Rewind: The world first heard the soaring voice of Adele—this year's Grammy winner for Best New Artist—just a year and a half ago, with the British release of her love-struck debut, 19 (named for her age at the time).
Fast-forward: She'll wrap up her current American tour on June 28 by sharing the Hollywood Bowl stage with her idol, original blues diva Etta James. "She's my favorite singer," says Adele. "Getting to do a show with her will be the best night ever."
Play it again: "My albums will always be about love, because it's one of my favorite things to do—to be in and out of love," she says. "But I've matured since I recorded 19, and my lyrics are more independent and empowered, not so much 'Oh please, please love me.'" She talked to O about artists with whom she's fallen head over heels.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand (Rounder): "A phenomenal album. I love Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin— he makes me so proud to be British—but I'd never heard of Alison Krauss before this. She's so passionate, it just drives me insane."
Carole King, Tapestry (Ode): "My favorite album ever. 'So Far Away,' 'Natural Woman'—she is an amazing songwriter, and the emotions in her songs are beautiful."
Martha Wainwright (Zoe): "She's such a good lyricist; it's scary how honest she is in her songs."
Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar): "This is thinking music: It makes you want to cry and sit on the end of the bed and ponder stuff. He makes me admit things to myself that I usually wouldn't."