Adele rose to stardom thanks to her punchy, distinct voice and heartfelt ballads. Having earned 15 Grammys, 18 Billboard Music Awards, 5 AMAs, and a gigantic following of loyal fans, where did it all begin?
Adele’s debut single was titled “Hometown Glory” which was released in 2007 as part of her album 19. Technically though, the first song she was a part of was “Be Divine” by Ricsta, which was written by Adele and came out in 2006. It’s a heavy electronic dance music track featuring Adele’s smooth, soulful vocals.
For more information on Adele’s early career, and what led her to superstardom, continue reading below.
Raised by a Single Mom in Tottenham
Adele was born Adele Laurie Blue Adkins on the 5th of May 1988, to mother Penny Adkins and father Marc Evans, in Tottenham, London.
Penny was just 18 years old when she had her daughter, and Marc became estranged when he left Adele when she was very young.
She was thus raised by her mother. They later moved away from Tottenham when Adele was 9 and went to the south coast in Brighton.
Adele’s mother fostered her talents and encouraged her to investigate her creative side – Penny was also quite artsy herself and played guitar.
Exploring Her Talents
Adele once said in a 2008 interview with the Telegraph that her mom was “’the most encouraging person. She was so young when she had me, she probably would have gone to university and done art or something, so she was always telling me to explore, and not to stick with one thing, like other moms.”
Several musical influences started entering Adele’s radar, like the Spice Girls, Lauren Hill, and Mary J. Blige. At 14 years old, she discovered some old records in a thrift shop.
The record collections included the works of Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald, and she was instantly hooked. In that same interview with the Telegraph she shared:
“Chart music was all I ever knew. So when I listened to the Ettas and the Ellas, it sounds so cheesy, but it was like an awakening. I was like, oh, right, some people have proper longevity and are legends.”
She continued, “I was so inspired that as a 15-year-old I was listening to music that had been made in the Forties. The idea that people might look back to my music in 50 years’ time was a real spur to doing this.”
Before music came around, Adele was even obsessed with the tones in people’s voices from the age of about 4. “’I used to listen to how the tones would change from angry to excited to joyful to upset,” she once said.
At 14 years old, she was accepted into the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology in Croydon – a highly selective school with other superstar alumni like Amy Winehouse, Jessie J, and Leona Lewis.
While at school, she originally thought of focusing on A&R (Artists and Repertoire) where she would make other musician’s dreams come true.
But little did she know that 3 songs from a simple school demo project would shoot her into overwhelming fame.
Growing Into a Superstar
These 3 songs we speak of were uploaded by Adele’s MySpace profile by one of her friends.
Two years later, the tracks were picked up by some executives at XL Recordings, a well-known British record label, and they contacted the aspiring singer.
Before graduating from the esteemed school, “Be Divine” by Ricsta was released, featuring Adele. There isn’t much information out there on the origins or backstory of the track, but we do know that she wrote and performed her own lyrics.
6 months following her graduation, Adele was signed to the label and was able to pursue her dreams.
At 19 years of age, she started to record her first album. It would be named after her age at that time, and included one of the songs from the demo that was part of her school project.
That song was “Hometown Glory”, which became her debut single as a professional artist. The song made its way on the UK, French, Irish, and Dutch charts, but wasn’t as much of a success as “Chasing Pavements”; another single on 19.
“Chasing Pavements” peaked at No. 2 in the UK. She had already reached mainstream fame by this stage, but “Rolling in the Deep” (2010) off her second album was truly her first global smash hit.