With a voice that Beyonce has described as like “listening to God,” soulful singer Adele has proven with her universally acclaimed sophomore album that painful breakups can be incredibly lucrative. Though her debut, “19,” did see Stateside success, the U.K. songstress staged her own one-woman British Invasion with “21,” the best-selling album of the year by far with more than 3.5 million copies sold on these shores since its February release.

Whether in the recording studio or on stage, Adele belts with the kind of emotional depth seldom seen in today’s era of mega-production tours. The lyrical honesty of such heartbreak-inspired songs as “Someone Like You” paired with a powerful voice known to hush celeb-filled rooms has translated into big numbers — “21” has topped the U.S. charts for 12 weeks, with “Rolling in the Deep” producing record-breaking digital sales.

Yet the singer confesses to magazines like Rolling Stone that she is still “scared of audiences.” This frankness carries over into frequent discussions of her weight, noting that she doesn’t “have time to worry about something as petty” as physical appearance. “Even if I had a really good figure,” she said, “I don’t think I’d get my tits and ass out for no one.”

Adele thus stands out as a vocalist, bringing music back to basics with her signature all-black ensembles and distaste for selling out. “I don’t want to be tainted,” she told Q Magazine, noting that she never wants to be associated with any brand.

As Adele evolves beyond “19” and “21,” her youth and talent underscore the idea that we’re experiencing only the beginning of a chantoosie’s reign that will be measured beyond numbers in the coming years.

Role model: Etta Jame
Career mantra: “I don’t make music for eyes. I make music for ears,” Adele told Rolling Stone.
Leisure pursuits: The singer-songwriter recently took three months off from all publicity to spend time “at the pub, barbecues and seeing my cousins,” according to the Daily Mail.
Political/philanthropic passions: Adele told Q Magazine she was “mortified” by the U.K.’s high taxes, and noted that “most state schools are shit,” while demanding that journalists and other normally comped attendees donate $20 to SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) in exchange for attending her 2011 shows.