Adele

In summer 2007, north London teenager Adele Adkins was booked to appear on TV show Later with... Jools Holland. Producers had invited the unknown to share the stage with Paul McCartney. Shaking with nerves, she nevertheless delivered. Her domination of the world's soundtrack had begun.

It was not the last time the girl with the stadium-filling voice would find herself in the same context as the Beatles legend.

Four years later Adele had two records in the top five of both the UK single and album charts, becoming the first act to do so since the Fab Four.

The nerves have never gone away. "Behind the eyes it's pure fear. I find it difficult to believe I'm going to be able to deliver," she told one interviewer.

Nor is Adele, now a multiple Grammy winner, any less star-struck. "I just met Daniel ****ing Day Lewis," she tweeted after one awards ceremony.

The unique mix of killer talent, huge personality and a salty vocabularly that would make a truck driver blush is what appeals to her global fanbase.

However, the wisecracking soul songstress has never chased fame for the sake of it. "I just want to make music. I don't want anyone chatting about me," she says.

But people started chatting about her when she was barely out of school.

She was born Adele Laurie Blue Adkins on 5 May 1988 when her mother Penny was 18. Her father left when the little girl was two. 

Speaking about her mother's sacrifices, the singer told a newspaper: "She fell pregnant with me when she would have been applying for uni, but chose to have me instead. She never, ever reminds me of that. I try to remember it."

Penny, a furniture-maker and adult learning activities organiser, brought her daughter up in London, first in Tottenham and then Brixton. To this day, Adele is an ardent supporter of Tottenham Hotspur football club.

Her early influences were the Spice Girls, Etta James and Pink. Seeing the Missundaztood singer live was a defining moment for the budding musician, then aged 13 or 14. "I had never heard, being in the room, someone sing like that live… I remember sort of feeling like I was in a wind tunnel, her voice just hitting me. It was incredible."

After graduating from the Brit School for Performing Arts with fellow alumni including Leona Lewis and Jessie J, she recorded a demo and was signed to XL Recordings. The same team has accompanied the Tottenham girl on her meteoric journey.

At the 2008 Brit Awards, her 19 her debut album, named for her age at the time, earned the Critics Choice award. Then at the 2011 Brits her live rendition of Someone Like You cracked the hearts of the audience wide open.

The haunting ballad of love and loss was from 21, the disc which became the biggest selling album of the 21st century and the secured number one spot in 26 charts across the globe.

And team Adele celebrated the following year at the Grammys when the diva won so many trophies she should have thought about hiring a removal truck to take them home.

Her mantelpiece also boasts a Golden Globe for Skyfall, the eponymous track of the 23rd Bond outing.

Fortunately for the songbird, her personal life has taken the same path as her career. She has quietly settled down away from the limelight with her partner ethical entrepreneur Simon Konecki.

He was her rock when surgery on her vocal chords forced her to take several months off in 2011. The couple have a baby boy, born in October 2012 and thought to be called Angelo.

Her blissful family life has inspired a change in her creative output. "I want to write happy songs about being in love," she says. "If I write another one about heartbreak people will just think I'm depressed. But I'm very happy right now. I'm very very happy."
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