How Adele Went From Unknown To Superstar
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How Adele Went From Unknown To Superstar

In this current music business Adele is living proof that money can still be made in an industry dominated and decimated by streaming and freeness.

She had turned 19 a couple of weeks earlier and was still working on her first album (eventually released in January 2008 and called 19 after her age). Townshend's partner, the musician Rachel Fuller, plays the Chat Show Host. She and Adele sit side-by-side in the foreground on faux Louis XIV chairs, Townshend and songwriter Mikey Cuthbert are squeezed in at the back.

Around the age of 10 she moved to South London (Brixton, then West Norwood). She didn't enjoy school until she was 14 years old. That was when she accepted an offer to attend the selective, state-sponsored Brit School for Performing Arts & Technology in Croydon. There she thrived. Her dad - of whom more later - bought her the Simon & Patrick guitar she plays in the video, an instrument she says she'd only taken up 18 months earlier. By then she'd cracked playing the sax, having given up the flute at 13 because she'd started smoking.

A producer at a hip indie record label called XL heard Adele's demo and gave a heads-up to Jonathan Dickins, a young, thrusting, recently established talent manager.

Nor is Adele's overall American fan-base, which, according to Nielsen is female-skewed, aged mostly between 25-44 years old, and with children.

Her album Frank was a major inspiration to Adele, it made her pick up a guitar.

After years of denial, Adele now realises she is a bona-fide A-list international star on a par with - or even a notch or two above - fellow mononymous singers like Madonna, Prince, Bono and Beyonce.

In a global business that has roughly halved in value - from being worth around $30bn a decade or so ago to just under $15bn today - Adele provides living proof that there is still money to be made in recorded music.

Buying music in a physical format may now account for less than a quarter of the US market, but it hasn't hurt Adele - the massive number of people who buy only one CD a year seem to include a lot of her fans.

Author Will Gompertz has more to tell you about Adele's full story.