By Lauren Edwards
As I emerged from my blanket of Minature Heroes wrappers and polished off the last of the Bailey’s, resplendent in my new pyjamas and happy in the knowledge that they are acceptable attire for these weird few days between Christmas and New Year, I came across An Audience with Adele on ITV. Too tired to keep scrolling through the channels, and not adverse to the velvety vocal range of this talented lady, I settled in for what turned out to be an overwhelming experience.
Unless you have lived under a rock for the last 11 years, you will know Adele Adkins as a national treasure who can expertly pen a heart-breaking love song and can win over any audience with her down-to-earth, potty mouth and infectious manner. She has become one of the world’s best-selling music artists, with numerous awards and has earned herself an MBE.
Adele was born on 5th May 1988 in Tottenham, London, as an only child to her English Mother Penny Adkins and her Welsh Father, Marc Evans. Her father left home when Adele was 2 years old and, throughout her childhood, Adele and her Mum moved about quite a bit. They lived briefly in Brighton and in various parts of London before settling in a flat above a discount shop in West Norwood, south London. Adele began singing at the age of 4 and spent much of her youth playing her guitar and singing to her friends in Brockwell Park, a memory that she incorporated in her 2015 song Million Years Ago.
“Exploiting yourself sexually is not a good look. I don’t find it encouraging…I just stand there and sing. I’m not worried that I’m a ‘plus size’ and so much bigger than other artists. No matter what you look like the key is to be happy with yourself.”
She graduated from the Brit School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon in May 2006, with fellow alumni Leona Lewis and Jessie J. Within months of graduating, her friend posted a demo of Adele’s own songs on Myspace which led to her discovery from a Virgin Records Music Executive. Within a year, in June 2007, Adele made her television debut on BBC’s Later with Jools Holland.
In 2008, Adele released her debut album, 19. The most successful song from it was Chasing Pavements, and although it was a fairly niche collection of jazz, pop and soul songs, it couldn’t compete with Amy Winehouse at the time. However, in 2010, Adele wrote the soon to be game changer song Someone Like You. She says that she wrote it sitting at the end of her bed whilst running a bath, after discovering that her boyfriend, whom she thought she would marry, was engaged to someone else. It would be one of the many hits from her second album, 21, which became the launchpad for Adele to become a global star.
“I have insecurities of course, but I don’t hang out with anyone who points them out to me.”
The album 21 remains the bestselling album of the 21st century, amassing over 31 million album sales and numerous awards including six Grammys. Adele embarked on a mammoth world tour to promote the album but unfortunately was forced to cancel early for surgery on her vocal cords. She took a break from singing but returned in 2012 with the Bond film theme tune Skyfall and following up with her third album 25 and a headline performance at Glastonbury in 2016.
Apart from her truly incredible vocal talents, what I admired the most about Adele, as I watched her humbly answer questions from the likes of Samuel L Jackson and Gareth Southgate on her An Audience with, is how unaffected she appears to be by her immense fame. As she showcased her hotly anticipated new album 30, she stopped mid-song during Easy on Me and asked if she could start it again as she apologised to the audience and told them the reason for her faux pas was because “I’m sh***ing myself. I’m really scared.”
Recently divorced and a Mum to her 9-year-old son Angelo, Adele now lives in Los Angeles. She is a lifelong Tottenham Hotspur Fan, a supporter of the Labour Party, a proud feminist and in 2018 became an ordained minister so that she could officiate the wedding to her close friend, the comedian Alan Carr to his partner Paul Drayton, which took place in her back garden.
“The focus on my appearance has really surprised me. I’ve always been a size 14 to 16, I don’t care about clothes, I’d rather spend my money on cigarettes and booze.”