A Candid Moment With Adele In Sony Music's Lobby

Tony Oudot/FilmMagic

Adele photographed on Jan. 27, 2011 in London, England.

What is a superstar like, when no one is watching?

On the eve of the release of Adele’s 25, a top Sony Music executive has shared a memory of a candid encounter with the singer in the lobby of the Sony building in Manhattan, prior to the release of her 2011 blockbuster album 21.

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Julie Swidler, executive vp business affairs and general counsel, Sony Music Entertainment, had been asked during an interview for Billboard’s upcoming Women in Music issue about the artist who most inspired her. She explained why her choice was Adele.

“While Adele was recording 21, I entered our offices at 550 Madison Avenue and she was waiting on the queue to give her passport to our security people to get in, as she had a meeting at Columbia. She was by herself with no manager in sight.”

“I went over to security to explain that this was an important artist to us and was a Grammy winner already,” recalls Swidler.   (Adele won the Grammy in 2009 for best new artist and best female pop vocal performance).

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“She was very nonplussed and was happy to wait in the queue.  She was dressed very casually and still looked striking. 

“We started talking about how the recording process was going and who she was working with, and the kind of music she wanted to make for the album. 

“Here was this incredibly young woman, before her phenomenal success, totally in control of her career,” says Swidler.  “I was all at once in awe, inspired and jealous that things that I still work on all the time, she already had. 

“That self-possession that is so rare, before her huge success.  That is what makes me so grateful that a woman like that, someone who is so herself and in charge of her own career, can have such great success.”