British singer-songwriter [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Adele[/lastfm] was barely 20 years old when she won a pair of GRAMMYs in 2009 for her acclaimed debut album 19. Two years later, the soul-infused vocalist is back with a new record, 21, and she will feature songs from that bold new collection during an exclusive Live on Letterman webcast on Monday, February 21 from the stage of New York’s famed Ed Sullivan Theater. The free online concert takes place live and begins at 9pm Eastern (6pm Pacific) on CBS.com.
[pullquote quote=”As much as ’21’ is about love’s rocky road, it’s also about finding peace in life’s turmoil.” credit=”Adele”] Voices like that of Adele Laurie Blue Adkins (her full name) don’t come every day–a rich beauty shines on the surface, but is propelled by a deep heritage underneath that reaches back to classic jazz, blues, and pop singing. You can feel the connection to such soulful greats as [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Dusty Springfield[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Etta James[/lastfm] in the way she handles her words on songs like the delicate “Hometown Glory,” her smash hit “Chasing Pavements,” the [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Bob Dylan[/lastfm] cover “Make You Feel My Love,” and her brand-new single, “Rolling in the Deep.”
“Make You Feel My Love”
“Chasing Pavements” was Adele’s second single, released in early 2008. It reached Number 2 on the British charts, and helped ‘pave’ the way for her album 19, which debuted at Number 1. It took a bit more time, though, for Adele to truly connect with her American audience. She played Coachella, but it was her October, 2008 performance on Saturday Night Live that clinched it. (It didn’t hurt that she performed on the same episode where Sarah Palin made an appearance.) The following day, 19 topped the iTunes charts.
In 2009 Adele was nominated for several GRAMMY Awards, including Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, which she won, beating out [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Katy Perry[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Pink[/lastfm], the [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Jonas Brothers[/lastfm], and fellow blue-eyed British soul vocalist [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Duffy[/lastfm]. For a young artist who was barely in her 20s, it was an impressive feat. By that point, too, in her home country she’d also racked up a “Critics Choice” Brit award, taken home a BMI London award for “Chasing Pavements,” and been nominated for the coveted Mercury Prize.
On her brand-new 2011 album, 21, Adele again covers themes of love, heartbreak, and the emotions that come with a sensitive soul on the brink of adulthood. Her soulful sound in a new direction, one influenced by American roots and country music, which she began listening to during a tour of the American South (“we’d rock out late at night, chain smoking and listening to [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Rascal Flatts[/lastfm]”). “Rolling in the Deep” is the first single from the album, cowritten with her producer Paul Epworth, and while it won’t be mistaken for Hank Williams, it does reflect bold, powerful Southern music traditions (Adele calls it “a dark bluesy gospel disco tune”).
“Rolling in the Deep”
21 will be released Stateside on February 22, but British and European fans got an early taste, as the album has been out overseas since January–and has already topped charts in 14 countries, including the U.K., Ireland, and Germany. In England, in fact, it became the best-selling January release in five years. Fans were obviously hungry, and Adele clearly delivered.
All of the album’s tracks were penned by Adele over the last year in collaboration with such cowriters as Epworth, Ryan Tedder, and Dan Wilson. The only exception is an acoustic take on “Lovesong” by [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Cure[/lastfm]. Half of the songs on 21 were produced in Britain with Epworth; the rest she recorded in Malibu with superstar producer [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Rick Rubin[/lastfm], whose stellar and amazingly diverse credits include work with [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Johnny Cash[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Neil Diamond[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Slayer[/lastfm], and the [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Red Hot Chili Peppers[/lastfm].
“The band Rick put together was amazing,” says Adele. “It’s all about the song. We could’ve been in 1920 or we could’ve been in 2060. [It’s] completely overwhelming to be given the opportunity to make a record like this so early on in my career.”
“I think I come across moody and serious with my music,” Adele continues. “But, in real life, I’m sarcastic and very cheeky.” So she deliberately wanted the songs on 21 to represent herself “as a person. I don’t think the playful me came across on the first album. It’s important to show growth and development.”
Fans can get an excellent opportunity experience Adele “as a person,” as well as a knockout vocalist and songwriter, when she performs a full-concert webcast on February 21. Tune in to watch it live at 9pm Eastern (6pm Pacific) on CBS.com.