Adele Biography

Adele. Photo by Sascha Steinbach / Getty Images

Adele's Early Life and Education

Adele Laurie Blue Adkins was born May 5, 1988 in London, England. She began singing at a very early age and enjoyed singing the songs of female groups like the Spice Girls and Destiny's Child. She is a graduate of the BRIT School in Croydon which is known for also nurturing the talent of Leona Lewis and Amy Winehouse.

Getting Noticed

Adele utilized a MySpace site to gain notice among pop music fans.

She toured as an opening act for her close friend Jack Penate in 2006. By late 2007 she was beginning to headline shows. Adele was offered a contract and signed with the label XL Recordings. Exposure came from BBC Radio 1 playing her single "Daydreamer" and an appearance on the TV show Later With Jools Holland.

19 and "Chasing Pavements"

In January 2008, amid acclaim from the BBC as one of the top artists to watch in 2008, Adele's single "Chasing Pavements" was released followed closely by her debut album 19. "Chasing Pavements" reached #2 on the UK pop singles chart while the album debuted at the very top. Follow up singles were not as successful, but Adele maintained her critical reputation as one of the top new artists of the year. However, success in the US eluded her despite strong video play for "Chasing Pavements" on the VH1 network.

Adele on Saturday Night Live

Good karma found Adele in October 2008.

It seemed that the opportunity for a breakthrough in the US had passed by, but she was booked to perform on Saturday Night Live as musical guest. Fortunately, for Adele, it was the same week as a high profile appearance by US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The unusually large amount of viewers helped propel "Chasing Pavements" to the top of the iTunes download chart and send the album 19 to #11 on the US album chart.


Adele returned late in 2010 with a new, critically acclaimed single "Rolling In the Deep." It was the preview for her second album 21. Most of the production on the album was done by Rick Rubin and Paul Epworth. Upon release 21 went straight to #1 in the UK racking up the best January first week sales since the debut of Arctic Monkeys in 2006. "Rolling In the Deep" also became a smash hit in the US spending seven weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. By the February release in the US of the album 21, "Rolling In the Deep" had already sold more than seven million copies. 21 debuted at #1 on the US album chart with sales of more than 350,000 copies in its first week.

TV performances played a key role in the success of Adele's "Someone Like You," the next single from 21. An emotional performance of the song at the Brit Awards in February 2011 sent the song to #1 on the UK pop chart. In August, she performed "Someone Like You" live at the MTV Video Music Awards in the US and the response to that performance sent the song to #1 on the US pop chart. 

Ultimately, 21 generated three #1 pop hit singles and sold more than 11 million copies in the US and 30 million worldwide. It spent a total of 24 weeks at #1 on the album chart.

21 became the first album to top the sales chart in the US for two consecutive years since Michael Jackson's Thriller in 1983 and 1984. 


Adele broke even more sales records with her next album 25 released in late 2015. "Hello," the lead single from the new album was released in late October. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the first single to sell over a million digital copies in one week. At 1.11 million copies sold, it was the third highest total for single sales of any format in any week behind only Elton John's "Candle In the Wind 1997" tribute to Princess Diana. "Hello" ultimately spent ten weeks at #1 and 21 weeks at the top of the adult contemporary chart, tied for the third longest stay at the top of that chart all time.

The album 25 was released in late November 2015 and obliterated previous records for the most albums sold in one week.

Adele sold 3.38 million copies of 25 in its first week beating the previous record of 2.42 million copies sold by *NSYNC's album No Strings Attached in March 2000. By the end of 2015, 25 had sold more than seven million copies total. The 2.3 million digital copies sold made it the third biggest selling digital album of all time behind Adele's own 21 and Taylor Swift's 1989. 25 spent 10 weeks at #1 on the album chart.

Adele's Top Hit Singles

  • 2008 - "Chasing Pavements" - #21
  • 2010 - "Rolling In the Deep" - #1
  • 2011 - "Someone Like You" - #1
  • 2011 - "Set Fire To the Rain" - #1
  • 2011 - "Rumour Has It" - #16
  • 2012 - "Skyfall" - #8
  • 2015 - "Hello" - #1
  • 2016 - "When We Were Young" - #14
  • 2016 - "Send My Love To Your New Lover" - #9

Adele's Awards

Adele has received many accolades in her relatively short career. She has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards and won 10 of them. They include Best New Artist, Album of the Year for 21, and Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "Rolling In the Deep." She won the Academy Award for Best Original Song with "Skyfall" from the film of the same name. She has been nominated for 17 MTV Video Music Awards and won three of those.