(CBS News) 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. 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, and was rebroadcast on Sept. 16, 2012. Anderson Cooper is the correspondent. John Hamlin, producer.
It's an extremely rare feat in the music business to completely dominate the charts and radio airwaves in the way the British singer Adele did last year. The 24-year-old's sophomore album has sold more than 22 million copies and spent more weeks at number one than any album in nearly 20 years.
What makes her success all the more 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. Her popularity is due simply to the strength of her voice, and the emotional connection so many people have to her music.
At the height of her album's success, vocal cord problems forced her to cancel dozens of concerts, and threatened to end her young career. As we first reported in February, Adele revealed 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.