Personalities | Adele | Getting Signed

Adele’s initial break came after she recorded a trio of demos as part of her final year’s coursework at the beginning of 2006. A pal uploaded them on to Myspace, and very soon they attracted views and the attention of record companies.

The only label Adele had heard of was Virgin and naturally, an email from a rep at XL Recordings aroused suspicion – ‘I thought it was just some perv on the Internet, so I emailed back and said, “Leave me alone, I’m organizing my birthday party.” He asked if I was signed, and I told him no and that he could email me in a few weeks when I was finished school.’

She had no idea that the label’s signings included Radiohead, Dizzee Rascal, The White Stripes and M.I.A. As soon as she clicked at the initial meet, just after her eighteenth birthday in May 2006, she became ‘f***ing excited’. She had been so concerned about the legitimacy of the professed record company employee’s email, she took a male friend to the first meeting for security. Negotiations progressed quite quickly from there. ‘We met, they liked me and signed me. I feel bad telling that story because it was really that easy,’ Adele confessed to Cosmopolitan.

Done Deal

Adele needed a manager and so Nick Huggett at XL recommended Jonathan Dickins, founder of September Management. She liked him as he made her laugh ‘like literally, stomach cramps the next day’. He also had British singer-songwriter Jamie T on his books – Adele was a big fan. Dickins signed a contract with Adele in June 2006 (the XL signing was made official three months later).

Around this time, the singer decided to stop partying and really knuckle down. She told Elle that playing her worst gig ever – one of her first – at an East London pub had sparked the decision. All her friends and family were there, plus another 300 were seeing her for the first time. She hadn’t realized how late she was due to perform and by 2 am, she’d downed far too many – ‘I played three songs, I forgot the words and I fell off my chair. It was a free show, thankfully. Can you imagine paying to see someone forget their own lyrics and fall off their chair? Worst thing ever!’


With an initial goal of releasing a successful single set firmly in her mind, Adele had no idea of the amazing journey that lay ahead. She immediately set to work, recording vocals for a song called ‘My Yvonne’, which featured on the 2007 debut album of another of Dickins’ clients, Jack Peñate. Adele would eventually contribute to Peñate’s second album too. ‘She came in and killed it,’ Peñate has said of their studio time. ‘Her voice always makes such an impact on anything because it’s the most beautiful thing.’

Early Gigs

Adele continued to support other acts...

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Source: Adele: Songbird, by Alice Hudson


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