Adele is one of the greatest singers in the world today. Her powerful voice and moving lyrics have led many to think of her as the perfect soundtrack to a painful breakup.
But not everyone knows the truth of Adele’s story. She has had to overcome her own fair share of heartbreak—and she has done it by taking every challenge in her stride.
Let’s take a look back at Adele’s rise to fame and how she became the goddess she is today.
A Star is Born
Adele was born Adele Laurie Blue Adkins on 5 May 1988 in Tottenham, London. Her father left the family when Adele was two years old, and her mother raised her on her own.
It was clear from an early age that Adele was destined to be a star. She loved singing ever since she was a toddler, and remembers being obsessed with voices since childhood.
But no one could possibly imagine the trials and tribulations that were to come for this soulful songstress, and how she would turn this around to become one of the biggest stars in the world.
It was here in the suburb of West Norwood, London, that Adele would be introduced to the work of legendary artists such as Eva Cassidy, Etta James, and Ella Fitzgerald, and quickly learned how to replicate their stunning voices.
This new environment would provide inspiration for Adele in more ways than one, and her superstar success will forever be linked to her attachment to for the area.
A few years after settling back into life in London, Adele’s passion for singing and songwriting had developed to the point where she knew with absolute certainty that it was what she wanted to do with her life.
At the age of 14, with her mother’s support, she applied for a place at the prestigious BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology in Croydon, London.
Little did they know that this school would be her stepping stone to worldwide fame.
In Good Company
The BRIT School is famous for having turned out some of the biggest and brightest U.K. talent in modern times. You may not realize that some of your favorite English celebs had their first start in showbiz thanks to education at the BRIT school, with artists and actors such as Jessie J, Amy Winehouse andת Tom Holland among its alumna.
But that wasn’t the only part of the south London experience that would instill in Adele the qualities and talent to become a star.
And it wasn’t just the environment of the BRIT school that was inspiring Adele to greater heights in her songwriting. It was even closer to home—her beloved neighborhood of West Norwood.
When Adele was 16 years old, she and her mother started talking about her plans for the future. Her mother wanted her to think about leaving West Norwood and going away to university—but Adele couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her hometown.
Reflecting on this inspired her to write her first song—Hometown Glory. She had no idea just quite how much glory this song would bring.
In 2006 at the age of 18, Adele graduated from the BRIT School and was ready to share her talent with the world.
She started performing live in small gigs throughout London, wowing the modestly sized audiences with her stunning talent.
She then posted a few songs on the online music journal PlatformsMagazine.com, just four months after graduating.
But it was another website that would gain Adele the exposure she needed to make her a star.
She had no idea the attention she was about to receive.
Back in the noughties, many blossoming young singers and artists used to upload their songs on the popular social network MySpace. Celebs such as Lily Allen and Arctic Monkeys gained fame by sharing their music on the platform.
Adele was not particularly interested in promoting herself, she just wanted to continue performing and enjoying gigs.
But, unbeknownst to her, one of her friends had posted a demo tape of hers onto MySpace for her, including the song Hometown Glory.
This posting would lead to attention that was unbelievable in more ways than one.
Adele’s tape was receiving more and more hits on MySpace, before eventually catching the attention of Richard Russell, head of XL Recordings.
Russell eventually called her, suggesting they meet to discuss possibly signing her to the label. You might think that Adele would have been over the moon to get the call—but in reality, she was totally suspicious! She explained later that she had only ever heard of Virgin Records, so didn’t believe that XL Recordings was a real label.
Her love was the music, not the business side of things—but she went along to the meeting anyway.
Adele’s initial meeting with Richard Russell was successful, and he was impressed with her personality and drive as much as her singing and songwriting skills.
He recommended her to Jonathan Dickins, CEO of September Management.
Adele hadn’t heard of this label either, but when she realized they represented one of her favorite British singers, Jamie T, she suddenly began to get excited.
She signed on straightaway and officially joined the September Management roster in 2006, at the age of 18.
Not long after signing with September Management, Adele released her debut album, 19, so-called as she was 19 years old at the time.
It included the song that started all of this, Hometown Glory, as well as singles Chasing Pavements and Make You Feel My Love.
19 debuted at number one in the U.K album chart and sold 2.4 million copies, earning it eight times platinum certification.
Adele’s rise to fame seemed almost instantaneous, but in reality, it was the result of years of determination and hard work.
Having achieved staggering success at a relatively young age, not long after graduating from high school, you might think that the sudden celebrity status might go to Adele’s head.
But the soulful songstress won over even more fans by remaining the same girl she had been before she became famous, and soon her down-to-earth personality and natural demeanor became just as famous as her talent.
Adele was known to occasionally burst into giggles or start chatting with the audience on stage, and the fans loved her for it.
Adele has made no secret of the fact that her album 19 is based on the heartbreak of her breakup with a boyfriend. However, she has always refused to reveal the true identity of the man that inspired the heart-wrenching ballads.
She did however reveal that he once attempted to claim royalties from her for the album, as it was he who had inspired it
“For about a week he was calling and was deadly serious about I,” she told the Sun. “Finally, I said ‘Well, you made my life hell, so I lived it and now I deserve it.,”
A Woman’s Worth
As Adele’s fame continued to grow, she also started to receive a lot of media attention, particularly surrounding her appearance. While many people praised her for not confirming to a Hollywood stereotype of beauty standards, others were less kind.
However, Adele has always been confident and outspoken about how a person’s self-worth is nothing to do with their appearance. “I’ve read some horrible things about me, but my size has never been an issue for me,” she said to the Sun. “I don’t feel any pressure at all. I’m happy with the way I am.”
After the success of her first album, Adele was now very much in demand in the United States. She signed a joint deal with September Management and Columbia Records in 2008, in an attempt to crack the U.S. market. She then embarked on a short tour of North America, before releasing 19 there in June of the same year.
The album was well-received by critics, but didn’t particularly take the charts by storm. Adele’s American venture certainly hadn’t bombed, but it didn’t look like it was quite taking off either.
But something was about to happen that would change everything.
Saturday Night Live
In October 2008, Adele made an appearance on the super-popular Saturday Night Live.
She performed two songs from the album, Chasing Pavements and Cold Shoulder.
Her live performance was so spectacular that it turned things around in an instant—what had previously been a modest reception, suddenly became a nationwide mania. Adele’s episode of SNL brought in a record 14 million viewers, the highest the show had achieved in 14 years.
After that, 19 shot straight up to number four on the U.S. Billboard chart, and sold 3 million copies..
Today, the record has sold around 7 million copies worldwide.
After the success of 19 in the U.S., the critical acclaim and accolades started to roll in.
This was cemented at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards in 2009, where she performed her song Chasing Pavements together with singer Jennifer Nettles.
Adele was also nominated for four Grammy Awards on the night, and took home two of them—Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
There was no doubt about it now—Adele had well and truly cracked America.
Having smashed the albums and singles charts in both the U.S. and U.K., demand was high for another record from the pop superstar. The pressure was on for Adele to follow up with a second album as soon as possible.
However, true to form, the songstress didn’t bow to external pressures or expectations. What mattered to her was making music she believed in—and that couldn’t be rushed. She took two years to record her second album, 21, which was released in 2011. Taking her time paid off—the album went straight to number one in 30 countries.
Someone Like Her
By now, you would be forgiven for thinking Adele had now achieved pretty much the peak of her fame. But something was about to happen that would propel her to even headier heights of stardom.
At the 2011 BRIT Awards, Adele stole the show completely with an emotional performance of her upcoming single Someone Like You.
It was no typical award ceremony performance—no gimmicks, no dance moves, and very minimal backing music. It was just Adele alone on stage, with her powerful voice and moving lyrics.
The world was rapt—and things were about to change forever.
The next day, the papers were full of praise for Adele, and the clip of her performance was going viral.
Adele knew she had given a performance she could feel proud of, but she had no idea the ripple effect it was currently having throughout the world.
Having gone straight home after the awards ceremony, she had woken up early the next day to get on a plane to New York City.
While she was in the air, everything changed.
She had taken off from the U.K. as a star—but she landed in New York as a legend.
Adele landed in New York City to a reception she had never seen before or anticipated. Being the down-to-earth and humble girl she was, it astonished her to see the level of attention she was now getting.
She has spoken candidly about her relationship with fame, and how it can be hard for people to see her as a real person. “When I walk into a room full of people that I don’t know, they stop talking,” she said to the Guardian. “And I understand that. I get it. Because I’ve done it myself in the past.”
While she might be a huge global megastar, Adele has never let the massive fame go to her head, stressing that she is still just as interested in other people’s lives as they are in hers.
“If I go up to someone and ask what they do for a living, they’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s not very interesting, compared to what you do,’” she said. “But it is interesting. I’m interested. It’s real life, and I want to chat about it. Let’s chat about it today and let’s chat about it again tomorrow.”
As with her album 19, 21 was also rumored to be inspired by a relationship with a specific man.
The man behind 21 was rumored to be photographer Alex Sturrock, who Adele allegedly dated from 2008 to 2009. Biographer Sean Smith quoted Adele as saying, “This time, nobody did anything wrong,” about the breakup. “We just fell out of love with one another. I had to deal with the devastation of feeling like a failure because I couldn’t make things work.”
Adele’s super smash hit Someone Like You was reportedly written after she discovered Sturrock had become engaged to someone else.
Adele continued to enjoy enormous worldwide fame, spending 2011 traveling the word on her live tours and inspiring her fans with stellar performances.
However, an unexpected challenge was thrown her way later that year, in the form of a vocal injury. Adele suffered a vocal hemorrhage while singing live on a French radio show.
Devastated, Adele confirmed that she would have to cancel the remainder of her tour. She needed surgery on her vocal cords, and this would require a long period of rest.
However, just because she was out of action in terms of live performances, that didn’t mean that Adele wouldn’t continue to take the world by storm even when on her hiatus.
In November 2011 she released a DVD of her tour footage, called Live at the Royal Albert Hall.
This DVD debuted at number one in the U.S., selling 96,000 copies in the first week alone. This was the highest week’s sales for a DVD in four years, and made it the best-selling music DVD of that year.
Around this time, Adele was also rumored to be dating singer and rapper Tinie Tempah.
In 2011, the two of them were spotted leaving Katsuya, one of the top restaurants in Beverly Hills, together, but they never confirmed the rumors. Tinie Tempah also never explicitly mentioned their relationship, but he did once tell the Mirror that the two had a “great friendship”.
We may never know for sure if these two talented superstars’ friendship was anything more, but they certainly inspired one another.
But it wasn’t Tinie Tempah that eventually stole Adele’s heart. This was also the time that she started dating Simon Konecki, an old Etonian and charity entrepreneur.
Adele had spoken previously about how hard it can be finding love when you are incredibly famous, as you are never sure if someone is interested in your simply for your fame and fortune.
It seemed that with Konecki, secure in his own career choices and considerable fortune, that she knew for certain he was interested in her as a person.
Back on Top
After an extended period away from the spotlight, and taking the time necessary to rest her vocal cords and recover from the surgery, it was finally time for Adele to return to the fore.
In 2012 she confirmed that she would be marking her comeback with a starring performance at the Grammys. “It’s an absolute honor to be included in such a night,” she said in an official statement. “And for it to be my first performance in months is very exciting and of course nerve-racking but what a way to get back into it all.”
Sweeping the Board
It was finally time for Adele’s comeback. The fans were incredibly excited to see their hero back in action after all this time. It must have been incredibly nerve-wracking to perform under that kind of pressure—but it didn’t stand in Adele’s way.
The singer gave a stunning performance, and received a standing ovation. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after her moving performance—and the true emotion displayed by the star.
And it wasn’t just applause she won that night—she also walked home with a record-breaking six Grammy Awards.
As well as being truly on top of the world in her career, worldwide fame, and record-breaking critical acclaim, it was also a high point for Adele in her personal life.
In 2012 she announced on Twitter that she and Konecki were expecting a baby. “I’m delighted to announce that Simon and I are expecting our first child together,” she wrote on her website. “I wanted you to hear the news direct from me, obviously we’re over the moon and very excited.”
Their son, Angelo, was born in October of that year.
Despite her incredible success and superstardom, Adele remained amazingly down to earth and focused on her other responsibilities in the world.
After becoming a mother, she has spoken passionately about how important it is to her to give her son a normal, healthy, loving upbringing.
“I can’t wait to know who his best friends are going to be, who his girlfriend or his boyfriend is going to be or what movies he likes,” she said to Time magazine. “Whatever my kid wants to do or be, I will always support him no matter what.”
On Top of the World
Even after becoming a mother, Adele continued to break world records and cement her status as a global superstar.
While still pregnant with her son, she had recorded the official theme song for the twenty-third James Bond film, Skyfall.
Two days after Adele had given birth, Skyfall rocketed to number eight in the Billboard Hot 100, and sold 261,000 copies in its first three days.
The song also earned Adele an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award, both for Best Original Song.
Missing in Action
After the birth of her son, and the initial flurry around Skyfall had died down, many people were expecting a quick return for Adele to the spotlight.
But hen there was no sign of her returning to the fore, fans were surprised, and then mystified—where was Adele? And would she ever come back to the industry?
She was not seen again on stage, or releasing any new records, for almost three years.
Fans started to wonder—had Adele retired from music for good?
Give a Girl a Break
Rumors continued to abound over where Adele had gone and if she was ever coming back.
In reality, the singer was not paying attention to the media frenzy in the outside world.
A new mother, having achieved already a lifetime of success before the age of 25, the singer simply wanted a break!
“I know some people thought I was mad for taking a break,” she said to the Guardian. “But I’m glad it happened. I think it was the right thing. It slowed everything down.”
It’s amazing to think that even after all Adele had achieved, she was still not even 25 years old.
When the milestone birthday arrived in 2015, she released her third album, the aptly named 25.
“My last record was a break-up record, and if I had to label this one, I would call it a make-up record,” she said in a statement. “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.”
Adele continued to break records in 2016, when 25 achieved “Diamond” status, meaning it had gone ten times platinum in the U.S.
At the same time, 21 was officially upgraded from “platinum” to “diamond”, having achieved fourteen times platinum. Her first album, 19, had also now gone triple platinum.
Adele is one of very few women in history to have achieved this, including Madonna, Mariah, Alanis, Britney and Whitney.
By continuing to work at her own pace and not respond to media or public pressure, Adele had proved once again that she was the master of her craft.
In 2017 rumors started to abound that Adele and her partner Simon Konecki had secretly married, as they were spotted out in public wearing wedding rings.
Adele never really addressed the rumors publicly, but she did later on a few occasions refer to Konecki as her husband, one of which was captured on camera by a fan in Australia.
“I’m married now,” she said to a crowd while performing live in Brisbane, Australia.
It was clear that Adele was continuing to prioritize her personal life and keep it out of the spotlight.
End of an Era
Despite their attempts to maintain a healthy relationship, eventually Adele and Konecki confirmed that they would be splitting up.
In 2019, the singer’s representatives announced the separation in an official statement.
“Adele and her partner have separated,” the statement read. “They are committed to raising their son together lovingly. As always they ask for privacy. There will be no further comment.”
It must have been devastating for Adele. After seven years together, including having a child and supporting her on her career, it was the end of an era. What would be next for the singing superstar?
True to form, Adele didn’t let the separation from her husband break her spirit or ruin her confidence.
In fact, this new era of her life seemed to be suiting the singer pretty well, as she started being spotted at various celeb parties, looking incredibly happy and healthy.
Fans went wild when she was spotted partying with Drake.
It seemed Adele’s new lease of life was the total embodiment of Drake’s hit Hotline Bling, where a girl finds herself even more empowered after a breakup.
Although a period of separation and divorce must be incredibly hard, it seemed to all who knew her that Adele was clearly in a better place than she had been during her marriage.
Glowing with health and happiness, the singer even poked fun at herself for her turbulent emotions.
She posted two pictures, one of her emotional on-stage years ago, and one of her now, looking powerful and joyous.
“When you catch yourself in your feelings then you remember who you are,” she posted in a home-made meme that immediately went viral.
As well as living her best life with a newfound freedom and empowered outlook, Adele is thought to have turned to exercise to help improve her mood and express her emotions.
Exercise is well known as a powerful mood booster, and can help significantly with issues of anxiety or depression.
“I used to cry but now I sweat,” joked Adele in an Instagram post, hinting to the healthy changes she had made to her lifestyle, and the benefits it had brought to her wellbeing.
As well as being spotted out and about with Drake, Adele has also been linked to another dreamy rapper—fellow Londoner and Tottenham native Skepta.
The two of them have been friends for several years, but now it seems they’ve taken things to the next level.
The two of them have posted messages of love to each other on Twitter for all to see.
Adele tweeted a photo of Skepta with the caption “Tottenham boy” and a heart emoji.
Skepta in turn retweeted the post, adding the caption, “Love U”, and a rose emoji.
Having been famously quiet on social media for several months, Adele came out of her quiet zone to thank her followers for the well-wishes and tributes she had been sent in honor of her recent 32nd birthday.
Fans went wild when the post was revealed, not only because the singer looked so stunning, but because they thought it might be a sign for what they had all been waiting for—a possible announcement of another album coming soon.
While the media immediately focused on her looks, the fans were simply going crazy waiting for a new album.