Adele. I know — She’s fabulous! I love her music! Those songs! At just 28 years old, Adele has become a sensation — an artist who will go down as a legend in music history. Known for her soulful storytelling, she makes people around the world feel that she knows exactly what they’re going through.
Through countless interviews, she always seems down-to-earth, and like someone we could all get along with. Both her personality and style reveal her old soul, and that vintage flair and cat eye makeup have been signature for the non-stop singer. So let’s take a look, starting from the beginning of this star’s career, to now — a time when it seems near impossible not to deeply know her name and her transcendent music.
Girl power changed her life
Adele Laurie Blue Adkins was born in London in 1988. As she described to Vogue, growing up, her mom, Penny, would take her to concerts, sparking that initial interest in music. There would be one band in particular, who would have an enormous influence on Adele (and, ahem, spice up her life): the Spice Girls. Adele spoke with Vogue about her inspiration and how it was bigger than just the music, saying, “People always think I joke about this…But the Spice Girls blew up when I was seven. And seeing them coming from a humble background — there was hope in it. It was really a massive part of my life when the whole Girl Power thing happened.”
And her favorite Spice Girl? Ginger. She continued on to tell the magazine, “I connected with Geri and then I ended up finding myself at quite a young age. I used to define power by age, respecting your elders and authority figures…I kind of define power now by having the confidence to make your own decisions, to not be swayed by other people: to be brave and fearless, to know that even if you do make the wrong decision, you make it for a good reason.”
She experienced heartbreak at a young age
During an interview with i-D, Adele opened up about the passing of her grandfather when she was just 10 years old. The loss affected her deeply, as she said, “I loved him so much, more than the world.” But she wasn’t yet writing songs about the pain. Instead, Adele decided she wanted to become a heart surgeon. She said in the interview, “I wanted to fix people’s hearts.”
So that next year, she took biology lessons. But as time passed, other distractions got in the way. She soon discovered “fun – and boys. I gave up on it. My heart wasn’t in it anymore.” And although Adele never went to medical school or became a heart surgeon, she instead brought her gifts to music, continuing to focus on mending the human heart. With i-D, she shared a story about when her mom first listened to her song, “Someone Like You.” Adele said, “I played her the unmixed version of ‘Someone Like You’…She was pretty teary. ‘You are a surgeon,’ she said, ‘You’re fixing people’s hearts.” It all came full circle for the singing sensation.
Her music has always come from her own truth
In 2008, 19-year-old Adele was starting to see just how big her career could be. Still new to the music world, she made a big splash with one of her songs “Chasing Pavements” going straight to the number two spot on the charts. Just a week later her debut album, 19, was set to be released. Although having been signed with her label at just 17 years old, Adele was grounded and not looking to take advantage of that newly found recognition. Her view of music and herself and was simple, as she told The Telegraph. “I don’t really know anything about music. I don’t know why I do it; I just enjoy it. I feel relieved when I’m singing, whether I’m in the shower, or I’m cooking, or on stage. I could sing for ever. It’s pure pleasure.”
So how does Adele bring that emotion and inspiration to her music? It’s always been about her real life experiences. She described her bad break-up with her ex-boyfriend during the interview, who had cheated on her. The emotions she felt during the break-up, were just the fuel for her album at the time. She was real and honest about her songwriting, saying, “I can’t make up things and I can’t glamorize: it’s just things that happened to me. I hate confrontation, and I don’t like being embarrassed. But, even when I was little, if I got really upset I’d write it down and give a letter to my mum. Songs are just like that. I haven’t got time to write upbeat songs because I’m out being happy, whereas when I’m feeling sorry for myself, I lock myself in my bedroom and go, ‘Ugh, I’m not coming out for a year!”
Her musical inspirations go way back
Thanks to a little carpool karaoke with James Corden, we know that Adele has always been a major Spice Girls fan (— join the club!). But Adele’s musical inspirations went even further back than the 90s. In 2008 the 19-year-old told The Telegraph how her perspective was altered once she found CDs from Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James in a bargain bin. “My whole perception of what a voice could be completely changed. I’m obsessed with voices now. I love pretty much everyone who is a singer, even if they’ve got a horrible tone – you can’t really deny a voice.”
Those voices not only inspired Adele but taught her to sing, as well. She said during the interview, “I’ve had one singing lesson in my life. It made me think about my voice too much. You can teach yourself. I listened to Etta to get a bit of soul, Ella for my chromatic scales, Roberta Flack for control.” The famous singer made it sound so easy, but she was the first to say she was still figuring out her own voice. “I’m 19, I’m not supposed to have my own sound yet. I could completely change in the next few months. My next album might be full of big Pussycat Dolls happy songs, you never know.” One thing that’s for sure: Adele’s voice can’t be denied.
Bringing fun to fashion
In 2009, 20-year-old Adele — soon to be 21 — proved to the world she was here to stay. The artist won the Grammy for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Although thrilled, she stayed grounded. Vogue reported that after the Grammys, rather than going to a fabulous after-party, Adele hit another, even more fabulous spot: In-N-Out Burger. A girl after my own heart.
Just barely into her twenties, Adele was already becoming a role model for her fans. Her curves and confidence in herself had fans buzzing. In the interview with Vogue, Adele said, “Fans are encouraged that I’m not a size 0 — that you don’t have to look a certain way to do well.” So what was Adele’s go-to fashion at the time? She was all about mixing and mashing: rocking H&M or Topshop, along with Vivienne Westwood or Aquascutum. But she’s willing to spend top dollar on shoes. A Sex and the City fan, she loves her Manolos — which she described during the interview as “the Carrie ones.” Seriously, could Adele get any cooler?
A little bit country
After her debut chart-topping and Grammy-winning album, fans were curious about what Adele would do next. In 2010 she was already working on her next album, as her inspiration for this album began to shift — traveling a bit further South. During her tour around the U.S., Adele spent some time in the South and was introduced, musically, to some big-time country stars. Speaking later with Rolling Stone about the experience, the 21-year-old said, “I got addicted to this Wanda Jackson hits album…She’s so cheeky and so raunchy. She’s kind of like the female Elvis: really sexual, not afraid to embarrass herself.”
Adele drew from this style of music, along with Alison Krauss and Lady Antebellum, for inspiration. She was very clear on what she wanted her next album to be — and what she didn’t want it to be, as well. “I wanted the songs not to have anything glittery or glamorous about them, like an organic tapestry rather than like a Gaga album…I mean, I love Gaga, but I didn’t want to get wrapped up in all that European dance music.” The singer wanted to keep honest emotion in her music, and, as she told the magazine, that mission was accomplished. “It’s such an honest record, and I’m really moved by it…It’s not hidden behind anything, and even though that’s what I wanted, I was a little bit scared of it. It makes me want to burst out crying whenever I hear it.”
She didn’t let fame rule her life
By 2011, 22-year-old Adele saw even more fame after the extremely popular release of her second album, 21. She had always remained true to herself, but that didn’t mean life around her wasn’t changing. Speaking with Out at the time, Adele admitted she had lost a few friends “who just don’t get it and treat me weird.” She also wasn’t going to make time for those who let fame go straight to their heads. “There’s so many people who believe their own hype and treat people like sh*t, and if I was ever like that I would absolutely stop doing what I’m doing for a while and go and find myself again. I find it grotesque when people change because of it, but maybe it’s because they’re not as good at keeping in contact with the people who love them for a reason.”
Adele’s candor is refreshing — and it wasn’t only in regards to her personal life. In her professional life, the global sensation wasn’t becoming obsessed with success, either. She said in the interview, “I always say I’m a singing lady, rather than a singer…Singer is a big word for me. My interpretation of a singer is Etta James and Carole King and Aretha Franklin.” Happy and humble, Adele is like a best friend to everyone.
She creates good from the bad
By 2012, Adele was busier than ever. Her album 21 had smashed the charts — the results of which were evidenced at the Grammys that year, where Adele swept six trophies. She was on tour, rarely taking breaks. It was around this time that she noticed something was wrong with her voice. She spoke later with Vogue about this time, saying, “I knew my voice was in trouble, and obviously I cried a lot. But crying is really bad for your vocal cords, too!” She went to the doctor, and it was discovered that she had a polyp on one of her vocal cords that required surgery.
Although a scary diagnosis, the 23-year-old made the best of it, finally taking time for herself. “[My schedule] was so fast-paced, I could hardly ever even remember the bulk of my day..I think I just needed to be silenced. And when you are silent, everyone else around you is silent. So the noise in my life just stopped. It was like I was floating in the sea for three weeks. It was brilliant. It was my body telling me to fix me.” This made her appreciate her life and success even more. “I’ve never fully appreciated the things that I’ve achieved until now. In fact, my entire life has changed in the last ten weeks. I’ve never been so happy, and I love it.”
Her family became her priority
2013 was a big year for Adele, who made her first public appearance since giving birth to her son in October of 2012. She was also nominated for multiple awards for her James Bond theme, “Skyfall,” winning both the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Original Song. On the red carpet for the Golden Globes, the 24-year-old opened up to Ryan Seacrest (via HollywoodLife) about working on her award-winning song and her life changes at the time. “I was very pregnant and very emotional, but it was very very exciting.”
When she won the Globe, it was her family who remained at the front of the singer’s mind. During her acceptance speech, she said, “We’ve come for a night out, I was not expecting this…This is for my boyfriend Simon who convinced me to do it, and my lovely son.” An accomplished performer and humble woman, it was no surprise Adele was nailing motherhood, too.
A unique style all her own
After her big year of awards, Adele took time away to be a mom and work on music. It was then in late 2015 that the 27-year-old put out a new song and the promise of a new album. “Hello” immediately topped the charts, and had everyone asking what this song meant. Adele spoke with Rolling Stone, answering all the questions. First off, it’s definitely not about her ex. “If I were still writing about him, that’d be terrible…’Hello’ is as much about regrouping with myself, reconnecting with myself.” She then addressed the line “hello from the other side,” saying, “It sounds a bit morbid, like I’m dead…But it’s actually just from the other side of becoming an adult, making it out alive from your late teens, early twenties.”
When the music video was released, records were shattered. In just five days, the video was watched over 100 million times. Filmmaker Xavier Dolan directed the video with Adele and talked about the artist’s iconic style with Vanity Fair, saying, “Adele’s look is meticulously thought through and completely of her own traits. She has such a powerful beauty, such an emotional voice, and the kohl, the hair, everything feels organically molded to her personality.” She is an absolute stand-out.
Singing as a hobby
Adele has always been an old soul, but that became even more evident after she became a mother. During an interview with Rolling Stone, the 27-year-old said, “My career’s not my life…It’s my hobby.” She went on to discuss her views of fame and what comes along with that. “People think I hate being famous…And I don’t. I’m really frightened of it. I think it’s really toxic, and I think it’s really easy to be dragged into it.” She discussed Amy Winehouse and how cameras were on her constantly. “That level of attention is really frightening, especially if you don’t live around all that showbiz stuff.”
And it’s not just herself she has to think about anymore when it comes to public attention. She opened up about her relationship and son, saying, “I’m a mom and I’m in a very serious relationship, so it’s never going to be just me again. I don’t regret any of it. Like, those aren’t the things that I regret. But I feel like I didn’t have very long to myself. I was my mom’s kid, and now I’m a mom…I had, like, a five-year window of just being me.”
She’s not stopping
And since her latest album, 25, debuted, Adele has continued to push the limits, excelling in everything she does. 2016 was a year full of tour dates and sold-out concerts for the 28-year-old. At the 2017 Grammys, she took home five awards, winning in each category she was nominated. And she is not winding down anytime soon, telling Vanity Fair, “I want to sing these songs when I’m 70 f*cking years old. To have a song, any song — let alone I’ve had four or five that have resonated with people that much — that’s why I make music.”
But, like she has consistently said, her family comes first. “All of my relationships are more important to me than any tour I’ll ever do. If my relationship with Simon or my relationship with Angelo started to flounder a bit now, I would pull out of my tour. My life is more important to me than anything I’m doing because how the f*ck am I supposed to write a record if I don’t have a life? If I don’t have a real life, then it’s game over anyway.” With that in mind, I can safely say, Adele’s fans can’t wait to say hello to her next musical masterpiece.