Adele: Biography and Origins

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Born May 5th, 1988 in Tottenham, London, England, Adele was discovered by a label who heard her music online while she was attending a performing arts school. She began to tour and her performances generated enough buzz to land her a record deal. Though her debut was successful in the UK, she only hit it big in the U.S. after more touring and select television show appearances. This was followed by her chart-topping sophomore effort, more critical success and many sold-out shows. In this video, we take a look at the musical origins of Adele.

Teenage Musical Interest

Adele Laurie Blue Adkins was born May 5th, 1988 in Tottenham, London, England. She fell in love with singing at a young age but only began to seriously consider music when she was a teenager.

Discovery Through Myspace

Adele was soon accepted into the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology where she developed her musical interests. During this time, a friend uploaded her demo onto the social networking site Myspace. It soon generated enough buzz to catch the attention of independent record label XL Recordings.

From Opening Act to Headliner

In 2006, she began supporting other artists as an opener. Thanks to these shows and the release of the single “Hometown Glory,” Adele became a headlining act by 2007.


XL Recordings released Adele’s full-length debut 19 in the UK in early 2008. The pop soul record was a very personal effort that spoke of lost love and relationships. The mostly positively reviewed album premiered at the top of the UK charts and contained the top two UK hit, “Chasing Pavements.”

Touring and American Breakthrough

She followed the UK release by embarking on her first concert tour “An Evening with Adele.” When the album was later released in the United States, it only charted within the top sixty. However, things turned around after Adele appeared on the late night television show “Saturday Night Live” that fall. This exposure to the American public helped 19 reach the eleventh position on the Billboard 200 chart. And the next year, the album won two Grammy Awards.

Second Album

2011 saw the release of her sophomore effort, 21. Inspired by the end of her relationship with an older man, the deeply introspective disc dealt with the singer’s emotions throughout the experience. Characterized by a pop sound with soul and country influences, 21 also featured touches of jazz, gospel and rock. The album topped the charts in multiple countries, including the UK and the U.S., and became one of the best-selling albums of the year.

Critical and Commercial Success

Critics were mostly favorable towards the record, and placed their praise on its production as well as the strength of Adele’s voice. 21 contained the number one U.S. singles “Rolling in the Deep,” and “Someone Like You.”

Television Appearances and Touring

Notable shows that year included her appearances at the BRIT Awards and the MTV Video Music Awards. In March, Adele began the “Adele: Live” tour in support of her second album. Though her performances were well-received and many of them sold out, she was forced to re-schedule some and cancel others due to health issues.

Vocal Talent and Traditional Appeal

Much of Adele’s appeal comes from her powerful voice. Her more subdued image in comparison to the flashier artists of the day and her ability to blend different genres into her sound adds to that appeal. And if she continues to believe in and develop her music as well as she has done in the past, Adele is sure to continue her success time and time again.