Adele is simply 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 Adele’s 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 was one band in particular who would have an enormous influence on Adele (and, ahem, spice up her life): the Spice Girls. Adele told Vogue, "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, "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."
After a devastating loss at 10 years old, Adele wanted to become a heart surgeon
During an interview with i-D, Adele opened up about the passing of her grandfather when she was just 10 years old. She revealed that the loss affected her deeply: "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.’"
Adele’s approach to her music is shockingly simple
In 2008, 19-year-old Adele saw just how big her career could be when "Chasing Pavements" went straight to the number two spot on the charts. Although she had been signed to her label since she was 17 years old, Adele was grounded. 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 forever. 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. "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!"
These iconic voices taught Adele how to sing
Thanks to a Vogue interview and a little carpool karaoke with James Corden, we know that Adele has always been a major Spice Girls fan, but her musical inspirations don’t stop there. In 2008, the then-19-year-old told The Telegraph how her "whole perception of what a voice could be completely changed" once she discovered CDs from Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James in a bargain bin. "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 also taught her to sing. 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 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."
Adele became a fashion-forward role model for body positivity
In 2009, 20-year-old Adele 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 go to a fabulous after-party, Adele hit another, even more fabulous spot: In-N-Out Burger.
Just barely into her 20s, 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 revealed that she was all about mixing and mashing: rocking H&M or Topshop, along with Vivienne Westwood or Aquascutum. One exception: she’s always 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."
How Adele came to veer a little bit country
After her chart-topping and Grammy-winning debut album, fans were curious about what Adele would do next. In 2010, she was already working on her next album when her inspiration began to shift — traveling a bit further South thanks to inspiration from her American tour. Speaking with Rolling Stone, 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. "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."
Adele’s growing fame meant letting go of friends
By 2011, 22-year-old Adele saw even more fame after the extremely popular release of her second album, 21. She had 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 fellow celebs 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, she wouldn’t let herself become obsessed with success. 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."
A scary diagnosis silenced Adele — and she’s grateful
By 2012, Adele was busier than ever. Her album 21 had smashed the charts — which was evident 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. 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."
Adele’s family became her priority
The year 2013 was a big one for Adele. She made her first public appearance since giving birth to her son in October of 2012 at the Golden Globes in January 2013. 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.
Oh, "hello" again, Adele
After her big year of awards, Adele took time away to be a mom and work on music. Finally, in late 2015, the 27-year-old put out a highly-anticipated 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."
The song’s music video also shattered records. In just five days, the video had over 100 million views. Filmmaker Xavier Dolan, who directed the video with Adele, talked about the artist’s iconic style with Vanity Fair: "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."
Adele said, "My career’s not my life… it’s my 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 said. She discussed Amy Winehouse and how cameras were on her constantly, noting, "That level of attention is really frightening."
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."
Adele asked, "How the f*ck am I supposed to write a record if I don’t have a life?"
After releasing 25, Adele continued to push the limits. The year 2016 was 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."
Adele moved to La La Land
The fame-averse Adele shocked everybody by moving her family to Hollywood of all places in 2016, into a stunning mansion once owned by producer Don Mischer, as reported by Variety. The Emmy-winning singer purchased the luxurious pile for a cool $9.5 million. Adele counted fellow big-name stars including Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis as neighbors, while her buddy Jennifer Lawrence lived just around the corner.
It’s a good thing she moved, too, because according to the "Hello" singer, her previous home in England was haunted! As noted by MTV News all the way back in 2012, Adele’s previous abode, a massive 10-bedroom mansion in West Sussex, was majorly creeping her out. She was reportedly hearing strange noises in the night, and even hired additional security detail to keep her company.
The place was previously a convent and was even equipped with a private chapel on the grounds, which probably added to the creepy vibes. Thankfully, the only ghosts Adele will be encountering in Beverly Hills are those of movies past.
Adele may never tour again
Her vocal polyp back in 2012 was swiftly mended with a few weeks’ rest but, unfortunately, Adele’s troubles with her voice weren’t over. In July of 2017, the powerhouse singer was forced to cancel the final two shows of her massive world tour, both of which were due to take place in Wembley Stadium in her hometown of London.
Adele took to Twitter to let her fans know how devastated she was, writing, "To say I’m heartbroken would be a complete understatement." Although the then-29-year-old enjoyed the first two Wembley shows earlier that week, she admitted to having struggled vocally, noting, "I had to push a lot harder than I normally do." Adele damaged her vocal cords as a result and, on the advice of doctors, was unable to finish the tour.
It shouldn’t have come as too much of a shock to fans, though, as BBC News advised Adele wrote in the program for the Wembley shows that they may be her last ever, noting, "I don’t know if I’ll ever tour again."
Adele went back to the studio
Although the prospect of Adele being done performing live concerts was a huge blow, both to the singer and her millions of fans worldwide, a reason to be optimistic presented itself in June of 2018. The Telegraph reported that the singer (who celebrated her 30th birthday with a Titanic-themed shindig that left her deliciously hungover) was back in the studio. Several studio musicians had reportedly been approached to work with the singer, who had already written some of the songs intended for the upcoming record.
The album was soon slated for release in September 2020, according a tweet from Pop Crave, which reported that Adele broke the news at a friend’s wedding. And although her previous records were all titled after the age at which she made them, the fourth may simply be called simply Adele, following the singer’s seemingly throwaway comment to James Corden during her appearance on Carpool Karaoke. At the time, Adele told Corden she wouldn’t be naming any further albums after her ages because she believes in trilogies and that chapter of her life is closed.
Adele used her voice for something other than singing
Adele is a vocal activist, notably visiting the scene of the devastating Grenfell Tower tragedy in London in 2017, and adding her voice to the chorus of those calling for more action during one of her concerts, as noted by Metro. The singer even treated kids affected by the tragedy to a cinema trip, according to NME, and later met with firefighters "for tea and cuddles" as shared on Facebook by firefighter Rob Petty.
She’s very caring on the personal side too. After admitting to Vanity Fair, "I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son, and it frightened me. …I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I was very reluctant," Adele put her struggles front and center once again. In August 2018, her BFF Laura wrote a warts-and-all blog post about her own experience with postpartum. Adele shared it on Twitter with a sweet message of hope for all mothers out there. She also took the time to encourage others to speak out, as she’d learned to do through her own experience.
Adele is set for life
As she admitted during her 2015 60 Minutes Australia interview, one of Adele’s biggest fears is being found out as a fraud and sent back to Tottenham, but she probably doesn’t need to worry about her career that much — even if she takes a break from it for a while.
In spite of not having released anything or toured in the year before, Adele was named the richest British celebrity aged 30 or under in October 2018, as per the BBC, with an estimated personal fortune of £147.5 million (around $188 million). The singer reportedly added almost £15 million to that fortune in the preceding 12 months alone.
Adele is richer than fellow singer Ed Sheeran, as well as Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe. All of One Direction appeared on the list, too, with Harry Styles leading the pack followed by Niall Horan, alongside Radcliffe’s co-star Emma Watson and Star Wars actors John Boyega and Daisy Ridley. The year 2018 was the third one in a row Adele managed to top the list.
Adele is still a total fan-girl
Unlike her contemporaries, Adele doesn’t have a huge social media presence. It’s unlikely fans will catch a glimpse at her day-to-day life, makeup looks, or even sweet family photos. Instead, Adele uses her Twitter and Instagram accounts to shout out her faves, including Champagne Papi himself (aka Drake), whose October 2018 gig she described on Twitter as one of her all-time favorites. The "Hotling Bling" star spotted the message and took to his own Insta to share his shock and awe, revealing he was glad nobody told him Adele was in the house on the night, as "I would have been SHOOK."
This kind of blatant fan-girling is nothing new for Adele, who nerded out over Beyoncé‘s Lemonade during one of her own shows back in 2016. She told the assembled crowd that Queen Bey is "the sickest artist around in the whole entire world; it’s unbelievable," according to Vanity Fair. In fact, Adele’s Twitter could be considered a shrine to all of her influences; she’s used it to share her love of Lauryn Hill and of Celine Dion, among many others.
The Spice Girls reunion blew Adele’s mind
Adele may be a loud and proud music super-fan, but her number one will always be the mighty Spice Girls. When the world’s greatest girl-band announced in November 2018 that they would be returning for a world tour (minus Posh), nobody was more excited than Adele. She took to Instagram to share an adorable throwback pic of her, as a young girl, posing in front of a wall covered entirely in Spice Girls posters. "HA! This is how I feel right now! I AM READY," she wrote.
Emma Bunton, aka Baby Spice, told Hello! magazine that she’d met the "Rolling in the Deep" hit-maker a few years back. "She came running up to me and she just went ‘Oh my God, I’m such a big Spice Girls fan and I can’t even look at you. And now I’m gonna go cos I’m gonna cry.’ And she ran off and actually it was so quick, I didn’t realize until I was halfway down the stairs and someone went ‘that’s Adele.’ And I was like, ‘I LOVE YOU TOO,’" Bunton revealed.
In 2019, Adele officially filed for divorce
It seemed for a while that Adele’s heart was carefully safeguarded, as she was happily married to her husband, Simon Konecki. She even cited him and their son in her acceptance speech for album of the year at the 2017 Grammy Awards as "the only reason I do it," referring to making albums — something every Adele fan surely is grateful for.
But no matter how good things looked on the outside, the marriage came to an end in 2019, when Adele officially filed for divorce. According to People magazine, this came after five months of separation, putting an end to their seven-year relationship. "Adele and her partner have separated," Adele’s representatives said in a statement. "They are committed to raising their son together lovingly. As always they ask for privacy."
As for how Adele processed the severance, the only clue is a post on her Instagram page, with a sad picture of herself on the left and an empowered snap on the right. "When you catch yourself in your feelings then remember who you are," reads the caption. Surely Adele wishes nothing but the best for Konecki.
Adele promised the world that 31 would be her year
When Adele turned 31 on May 5, 2019, she celebrated by making a somewhat rare update on social media. "30 tried me so hard but I’m owning it and trying my hardest to lean in to it all," she wrote in a post on her Instagram page. "No matter how long we’re here for life is constant and complicated at times." Given that her partnership was dissolving, it’s not surprising that she had a bit of a rough time that year.
However, despite whatever difficulties she was dealing with, be them public or private, Adele said that she was embracing all of the changes she was going through. She also shared that she welcomed the future with great optimism. "31 is going to be a big ol’ year and I’m going to spend it all on myself," she added. "For the first time in a decade I’m ready to feel the world around me and look up for once." She also implored her followers to be kind to themselves and be present in every moment.
Adele stunned the world after losing weight
Toward the end of 2019, regular followers of Adele on social media and on the internet at large began to notice something different about the singer. This was especially apparent in a post on her Instagram page, where she visibly sported a much slimmer form. And while Adele didn’t mention anything about it in the caption, she did write, "I used to cry but now I sweat" in the caption of the previous post. Could that have been a hint?
Predictably, the internet went nuts, especially when another photo of Adele surfaced of her leaving a gym in workout gear, courtesy of Page Six. According to a fan who says she spoke to Adele, the diva has dropped about 100 pounds, according to People magazine. However, Adele has yet to publicly comment at the time of this writing.
While losing weight may be something that many people strive for, one Twitter user was quick to point out that it’s not the most incredible thing Adele has ever done, given that she’s won multiple Grammy Awards, has had record-breaking album sales, and "became a musical legend before she even turned 30." Fair point!
Adele revealed a new look after turning 32
Adele had steadily been losing weight for a while when her 32nd birthday rolled around, but she had not yet shown the world just how stunning her transformation truly was. That changed when she took to Instagram to say thank you to her followers for the birthday wishes. "Thank you for the birthday love," she wrote in the caption. "I hope you’re all staying safe and sane during this crazy time."
Adele also took the time to give a shout-out to the people who kept the world going when the going got tough. "I’d like to thank all of our first responders and essential workers who are keeping us safe while risking their lives," she continued. "You are truly our angels."
While Adele has always looked gorgeous throughout her life, it’s clear that fitness has become a priority for her in her 30s. Who knows what she’ll take on next?