She may be famous for singing about heartbreak, but this year should have been a joyful one for Adele, who has sold more than 4 million copies of her album 21 in the U.S. alone. The sad truth is, that success has come at a price. The 23-year-old British singer had previously been forced to cancel numerous dates because of illness, and now she has withdrawn from all appearances for the rest of 2011 so she can recover from an operation on a hemorrhaged vocal cord.
According to an Oct. 28 message on her website, Adele is expected to make a full recovery post-surgery. (Rumors of cancer were quickly called ''100% false'' by her record label.) ''She's young and she probably will heal well,'' says Dr. Natasha Mirza, a professor of otorhinolaryngology at the University of Pennsylvania. ''I hope she has a speedy recovery. I have two teenage kids, and they're real fans.''
They're not alone. 21 just celebrated its 13th week on top of the Billboard 200. It's the first album to enjoy that many weeks at No. 1 since 1998's Titanic soundtrack. The album will almost certainly pick up a raft of Grammy nominations next month, although whether the singer will have recovered in time to perform at the Feb. 12 ceremony remains to be seen. ''The usual recommended period [of vocal rest] is about three months,'' says Mirza. Previous performers who've suffered hemorrhages and successfully resumed their careers include Steven Tyler, Keith Urban, and Jordin Sparks.
One silver lining: Adele now has time to focus on writing new material. Back in April, EW asked the singer about a follow-up to 21, and she was already eager to get cracking. ''I don't want to be working this [current] record for three years,'' she said. ''I just want to write.'' Here's hoping for a swift, and productive, recovery.