Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Adele Laurie Blue Adkins (born 5 May 1988), better known mononymously as Adele, is an English recording artist and songwriter.
ADELE is from a resolutely un-musical family. “It all comes from impersonating The Spice Girls and Gabrielle,” she cheerfully explains. “I did little concerts in my room for my mum and her friends. My mum’s quite arty; she’d get all these lamps and shine them up to make one big spotlight. They’d all sit on the bed.” Later, when her dad’s best friend, a dance producer, rightly declared ADELE’s voice ‘wicked’, he invited her to record a cover of ‘Heart Of Glass’. The first time she got a microphone in her hand, she realised her calling.
Adele remains very close to her 41-year-old mother, who was an art student of 18 when she met Welsh plumber Mark Evans in a pub. Within a year, she was pregnant.
As Adele once said: ‘My mum fell pregnant with me when she would have been applying for university, but she chose to have me instead. She never, ever reminds me of that. I try to remember it. Mum loves me being famous – she is so excited and proud.’
When Adele was three, her father moved back to Wales and descended into alcoholism. They were estranged during her teenage years, when he was drinking as much as two litres of vodka and several pints of strong lager a day.
Adele has said she ‘never knew’ him, and he has since admitted: ‘I was a rotten father at a time when she really needed me.’
So it was up to Miss Adkins to put food on the table. She worked as a freelance masseuse, furniture-maker and organiser for adult learning activities, and would take Adele to music classes most nights.
Adele attended ten schools as her mother moved them from flat to flat, mostly around Brixton, South London.
At 14, she decided that she wanted to audition for the Brit School in Croydon, and ended up in the same class as singers Leona Lewis and Jessie J. She wrote her early hits in an apartment above a discount store in deprived West Norwood, not far from the scenes of violent gang wars.
Secondary school proved instructive in as much as it gave ADELE an outlet to “meet all the R&B kids” and “sit around the playground singing.” But it was a pretty rough place and pursuing music there was something of a challenge, on account of the fact that ADELE wanted to sing and perform her songs but “the teacher was a bit rubbish. They gave me a really hard time, trying to bribe me, saying that if I wanted to sing I had to play clarinet to sing in the choir. So I left.”
So ADELE upped sticks, signing up to The Brit School, the Selhurst college whose alumni number Amy Winehouse, members of The Feeling and Kate Nash. However she had her misgivings…
“If I hear someone’s from stage school I’d think they were a dickhead, and I know it might make me sound like that. But it had free rehearsal rooms and free equipment and I was listing to music all day, every day for years. The music course was really wicked. There was no dancing or anything like that. No jazz hands.”
During her second year, ADELE’s resolve to be a singer was given a little extra boost – Shingai Shoniwa, the turbo-lunged vocalist with The Noisettes moved in next door. “She’s an amazing singer. I used to hear her through the walls. I’d go round and we’d jam and stuff like that. Just hearing her and her music really made me want to be a writer and not just sing Destiny’s Child songs. ”
Despite being quick off the mark on MySpace – her friend set up a page for ADELE’s music on the last day of 2004 – it wasn’t until 2006 that labels started noticing her talent. “I’d hate people to think that I was a ‘MySpace singer’,” she says. “I’ve got no right to be that. I’ve got, like, 10,000 ‘friends’, whereas Jack Peñate’s got about one million…”
When XL called her in for a meeting, ADELE was nervous enough to take a chum with her.
“I never, ever thought I’d get signed. The A&R guy emailed me and I was ignoring it… I didn’t realise they [XL] did all these amazing names…”
Despite interest from plenty of other labels, the independent regarded for its one-off, defining acts (for rock band, see The White Stripes; for rapper, see Dizzee Rascal) proved the perfect match for her one-off talent, and XL will put out ADELE’s stunning debut album “19” early next year. A single, the beautiful heartbreaker, ‘Chasing Pavements’ will precede it.
Before that comes ADELE’s debut release on Jamie T’s Pacemaker Recordings label, ‘Hometown Glory’ – a stunningly evocative picture of “all my fondest memories of London”. ‘Daydreamer’, a remarkable ballad notable for lyrics like ‘feeling up his girl like he’d never felt her figure before’ and ‘he could change the world with his hands behind his back’ has already floored the audience on the prestigious ‘Later With Jools Holland’.
Despite her rise to fame, Adele remains so close to her mother that last year, she moved back home after a failed attempt to live alone in a flat in fashionable Notting Hill, West London. She admitted: ‘I live with my mum again now. I missed her so much that I couldn’t really function without her. She’s my best friend.’
Her grandmother, who has lived in her small terraced home in Tottenham, North London, for 30 years, spoke of her immense pride.
Doreen Adkins, who carries a photo of her granddaughter in a wallet with her bus pass, said: ‘She is just a girl from London who is making it huge in America. And I’m so proud of her.’
“I don’t know what’s going to happen if my music career goes wrong,” she laughs. “I haven’t had a proper job yet.”
Considering all the Grammy's she has won so far, that is one unlikely turn of events.