With a powerful, distinctive, and emotional voice so full of layers that one cannot help get goose bumps when listening to her sing, it is no wonder that Adele has achieved such tremendous success in such a short period of time. She came on the scene in 2007, mature beyond her years. Not only did her voice steal many hearts, but her magnetic stage presence did as well.
Adele Laurie Blue Adkins was born in North London, England and raised by her mom Penny Adkins, after her father left when she was four years old. At an early age, Adele developed a love for music, particularly R&B, listening to the likes of Lauryn Hill and Destiny’s Child. In her teens, her palate grew to jazz when she discovered a collection of Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald at a neighborhood record shop. Listening to them opened up a whole new world for Adele. Her mother enrolled her into the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology (famous alums include Amy Winehouse, Marsha Ambrosius, Jessie J. and Leona Lewis), where she recorded a three-song demo for a class project that was eventually posted on MySpace in 2006.
After executives at XL Recordings heard the demo, they reached out to Adele and four months after graduating from BRIT, Adele had herself a record deal. In 2007, she released her breakthrough single Hometown Glory, followed by Chasing Pavements, and in January 2008 she dropped her debut album 19, named after the age she was when she wrote and recorded many of the songs. The album reached No. 2 on the UK Charts and remained there for four weeks. In March of 2008, Adele inked a deal with Columbia Record in the United States and immediately began captivating America audiences, just as she had British audiences.
With 17 million viewers watching, a performance on Saturday Night Live in October of 2008 further solidified Adele’s star status. Less than 24 hours after appearing on the show, her album, which had only ranked No. 40 on iTunes, shot up to No. 1. The album also reached No. 11 on the Billboard 200, jumping 35 places from the previous week. By February of 2009, Adele had taken home Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and her album was certified gold. By July of that year, 19 was double platinum with 2.2. million copies worldwide.
Some artists have trouble living up to their successful debut albums. But not Adele. In 2011, her sophomore album 21, named again after the age she was when she recorded it, was a blockbuster. With enormous hits like the soulful Rolling in the Deep and the heartbreaking, emotional Someone Like You, 21 sold 352,000 copies in its first week.
The album stayed at No. 1 on the charts for 11 weeks and went on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide. The following year, Adele took home six Grammy Awards, including Album of The Year, making her the second female artist after Beyoncé to win that many categories in a single night. She also performed on the show that night, her first performance after having throat microsurgery due to a benign polyp on her vocal cords.
Also in 2012, Adele wrote and recorded the track Skyfall for the 23rd James Bond film of the same name. The song earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Adele also garnered another Grammy after Skyfall won Best Song Written for Visual Media.
The world had to wait a few years to be blessed with another Adele record. In October of 2015 she announced that she would be releasing her third album, 25, the following month and posted the cover on her Instagram page. She said of the new album: “My last record was a break-up record, and if I had to label this one, I would call it a make-up record. Making up for lost time. Making up for everything I ever did and never did. 25 is about getting to know who I’ve become without realizing. And I’m sorry it took so long but, you know, life happened.”
The very next day she released Hello, the first single from 25, and immediately the world fell hard for the euphonic ballad that not only showcased Adele’s epic voice, but also made anyone listening to the song naturally bellow the lyrics with her. The single debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts and made history when it became the first single to receive more than one million downloads in one week.
On November 20, Adele released 25 and found herself with another smash. 25 reached No. 1 on iTunes in 110 countries and sold 3.38 million copies in one week in the United States. It is also the only album in the UK to sell a million copies in 10 days.
Sure, there are many female vocal artists out there right now, but there are not many who whose voices are so rich and expressive that they make each song an unforgettable experience for the listener. There are not many out there who have Adele’s star quality or who can say that they’ll have the longevity in the music business as she inevitably will. Adele is in a class by herself, and that’s why we can get enough of her.
Happy 28th birthday Adele!
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