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Adele

When the U.K. press began dubbing Adele "the next Amy Winehouse" in late 2007, the hype didn't touch upon the heavy singer/songwriter influence found in the Londoner's music. Influenced by Suzanne Vega as much as Jill Scott, Adele first made an impression in 2006 when she toured as an opening act for Jack Penate. She had graduated to headlining status by the end of 2007, thanks to BBC Radio 1 playing her single "Daydreamer"; another song, "Hometown Glory," was also released as a single on Jamie T.'s label, Pacemaker. An appearance alongside Paul McCartney and Björk on the BBC 2 television show Later with Jools Holland came next, and a recording contract with XL Recordings was finalized soon after. Early 2008 brought similar luck as Adele found herself atop the BBC's new music talent list, which was compiled from the votes of 150 music critics. That same January, XL issued a new single, "Chasing Pavements," along with her debut album, 19. The title reflected Adele's age at the time of the album's release, and its popularity resulted in the release of several bonus editions throughout the year. Also in 2009, Adele won Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Her sophomore album, 21, featuring the gospel and disco-infused single "Rolling in the Deep," was released in February of 2011. The album proved to be both a critical and commercial success, becoming one of the longest-running number one albums in history and spending over 18 weeks at the top spot. The glow of 21's success was dimmed somewhat when Adele was forced to cancel her tour after suffering a hemorrhage on her vocal chords. She underwent surgery for the hemorrhage in November of 2011. That same month, she released the concert CD/DVD Live at the Royal Albert Hall. Both Adele and 21 received many end-of-year honors, and in February 2012, as album sales began to creep closer to ten million copies, she won six major Grammy awards, one of the few artists in history to accomplish the feat in one night. In October 2012, Adele announced that she had recorded the theme to the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall. Produced by Paul Epworth and recorded at the prestigious Abbey Road Studios, the single entered the top 10 of both the UK singles chart and the Billboard Hot 100 on release. By early 2013, 21 had registered sales of over 25 million copies. ~ David Jeffries

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Impact of Adele Song Lyrics, Music and Vocal Performance

When Adele burst onto the music scene in 2007, she was hailed as “the next Amy Winehouse.”  Although flattering, the comparison didn’t really take into consideration the singer-songwriter tradition that has influenced Adele. Song lyrics, music and an incredible voice have catapulted her into an orbit all her own.  Adele is not just the “next” anyone — she stands alone as a new force in music.  Where did she come from and how did she get here?

Early Influences

Adele was born Adele Laurie Blue Adkins on May 5, 1988, in Tottenham, London, England.  She began singing at a very early age, and one of her earliest influences was the Spice Girls.  Like many other seven-year-olds, she absolutely loved them and they made a big impression on her.  Another pivotal moment came when she got to see Pink perform live at the Brixton Academy.  Adele has been quoted as saying she had never had an experience like it, of being blown away by the power of Pink’s voice singing live. It was a stunning revelation about the power of the human voice. She began training her own incredible voice at the Brit School, which also includes Kate Nash and Amy Winehouse as proud alumni.

Breaking In

Adele got her break through a MySpace page set up for her music by a friend, but success didn’t happen immediately.  In fact, it took over a year for her to start getting some attention. Then, she was contacted by XL.  At first she thought the offer was bogus because Virgin Records was the only music company she knew of.  Still thinking it might all be a scam, she took a friend with her to the meeting.  Needless to say, the meeting was on the level.  In 2007 “Hometown Glory” was released and Adele was off and running.

Breaking Through

Adele’s second single, “Chasing Pavements,” was released on January 14, 2008, two weeks before her debut album 19 (which gets its name from her age when she recorded it).  It was a huge hit in the UK, but her attempt to break into the U.S. market seemed a complete failure.  However, things turned around dramatically after she appeared on Saturday Night Live on October 18, 2008, the same night vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was scheduled to appear.  SNL drew its highest rating since 1994 with 17 million viewers.  Adele performed “Chasing Pavements” and “Cold Shoulder,” and 19 rocketed up the charts the very next day.  The album continued to sell and Adele garnered critical success as well, winning Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards in 2009.

Her second album, 21, again named for her age, was a hit from the beginning.  This was a somewhat different sound for Adele. Song lyrics and music have been described as both roots music and country, which she heard for the first time when she toured the South.  Her single “Rolling In The Deep” went to Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there.  The album has gone Platinum in many countries, and Adele is the first living artist since the Beatles to have two Top Five hits on the Singles Chart and Album Chart.  Among dozens of other awards and groundbreaking industry honors for a female artist, the album and Adele racked up six nominations for the Grammy Awards in 2012. The only blot on this landscape of success was Adele having to undergo surgery on her vocal cords to remove a polyp. The good news is the surgery went well and Adele and her amazing voice should be cranking out great music for many years to come.