Adele is one of the most extraordinary singers of her generation, and her global rise to fame happened suddenly. "The kind of level of fame that I'm dealing with now . . . it was overnight," Adele tells Anderson Cooper. "Literally on a flight to New York. I landed, and I seemed to be the most talked about artist in the world that day." Talked about and best-selling. Adele's sophomore album of intensely personal songs has sold close to 18 million copies and has spent more weeks at number one than any album in nearly 20 years. All of that success seemed in peril last year, when Adele developed serious vocal cord problems that required surgery. Would she sing again? As you'll hear in this profile, yes!
The following script is from "The Year of Adele" which aired on Feb. 12, 2012. Anderson Cooper is the correspondent. John Hamlin, producer.
Whitney Houston died yesterday in Los Angeles as the stars of the music world were descending on that city for tonight's Grammy awards. The cause of Houston's death has not been revealed, though her life, as one of her generation's best singers, was plagued by drug abuse. Whitney Houston was 48 years old and tonight's Grammys will be an occasion to mourn her loss.
It will also be a night to celebrate the past year in music. And in many ways 2011 will be remembered as the year of Adele. The 23-year-old British singer has been nominated for six Grammys. Her sophomore album, has sold almost 18 million copies. It spent more weeks at number one than any album since Whitney Houston's soundtrack for the movie "The Bodyguard" nearly 20 years ago.
What makes Adele's success so extraordinary is that she's unlike most other contemporary female pop singers. She doesn't have runway model looks, doesn't dress provocatively, and has no gimmicks added to her music. Few people have heard Adele's voice however, for the past four months. Vocal cord problems forced her to cancel dozens of concerts, and threatened to end her young career. Tonight, Adele breaks her silence for the first time, revealing how her voice is doing now...and how she is handling her sudden and very unconventional rise to fame.
Adele's music is intensely personal. She sings almost exclusively about love and the men whose love she's lost. She wrote this song, "Rolling in the Deep", heartbroken and angry the day after breaking up with her boyfriend. The song became the top selling single of 2011 and catapulted her to global stardom.
Adele: The kind of level of fame that I'm dealing with now, it's obviously gotten bigger over the year but it was overnight. Literally on a flight to New York. I landed and I seemed to be the most talked about artist in the world that day.
Anderson Cooper: What's that moment like?
Adele: I thought it was hilarious.
Anderson Cooper: Hilarious?
Adele: I thought it was funny. I wanted to be a singer forever. But it's not really my cup of tea. Having the whole world know who you are.
Cooper: It's not your cup of tea?
Adele: No. I find it quite difficult to think that there's, you know, about 20 million people listening to my album that I wrote very selfishly to get over a breakup. I didn't write it being that it's going to be a hit.
Cooper: You really wrote it to help you get over something?
Adele: Yeah. So the fact that so many people are interested in that, and want to cry to it, or want to feel strong to it, or whatever. I find really--it's just little old me.