Voiceless, but Adele is still poised to outdo Lady Gaga

Despite throat surgery, she's dominating today's American Music Awards

You could be forgiven for feeling sorry for Adele. The singer has lost her voice, had to scrap a US tour and undergone career-threatening surgery on her vocal cords.

As if that weren't enough, she has suffered a campaign of online personal attacks aimed at her weight.

But don't waste your sympathy. She would be the first to say that she doesn't need it. The 23-year-old is poised to dominate today's American Music Awards, becoming the first British woman in a generation to do so and setting another record in a short career that has already given her two platinum albums and multiple awards.

The young singer from Brixton has been nominated in four categories – more than any other act – eclipsing rivals including Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Beyoncé. The last time a British act got four AMA nominations was before she was born – Billy Ocean was nominated for five back in 1987.

Adele is up for Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Favourite Female Artist and Adult Contemporary Artist. Her album 21 is this year's best-seller in the US with more than 3.7 million sales. The last British female singer to get four AMA nominations was Olivia Newton John, who was raised in Australia but born in England.

The AMAs are regarded as more significant than most awards because artists are nominated on the basis of sales, and the winners are chosen by fans voting online.

Fans of Lady Gaga have used the web to attack Adele in a series of online postings mocking her figure. "Confirmed: Gaga will not be wearing her meat dress because she is afraid Adele will eat it," read one.

Lady Gaga condemned the attacks. "Anyone who would say anything negative about Adele, I wouldn't support. I love her immensely. She's very sweet. We've exchanged emails about our mutual love.

"I wish her all the best for her recovery in her vocals, and I can't wait to hear her new music. It's wonderful to see such strong women thriving in pop music."

Adele will not be performing at tonight's AMA awards ceremony in Los Angeles, as she is still ecovering from throat surgery after a haemorrhage in her vocal cords. She has cancelled all live dates for the rest of this year.

In a posting to fans on her website last week, she said: "I'm doing really well, on the mend, super happy, relaxed and very positive with it all. The operation was a success and I'm just chilling out now until I get the all clear from my doctors. Thank you to everyone who voted for the awards. Hugely appreciated. I best get back to practising my mime show now."

Since her platinum-selling debut album 19, the singer has enjoyed relentless success. She is the first artist since the Beatles in 1964 to achieve two simultaneous top-five hits in both the UK singles and album charts.

Additional reporting by Antony Peyton