A natural born artist, this singer, songwriter and composer is far from the troublesome rock star he could be with the army of fans that follow him. Talented yet hard-working, Ed Sheeran is known for being honest and fair, willing to do six shows in one night to make sure everyone who wanted to see him got the chance. Although he’s made a name for himself before reaching the age of 25, there will surely be more of his genius work to look forward to.
Edward Christopher Sheeran was born in England, in Halifax, West Yorkshire. His parents, John and Imogen, both come from London. John is an art curator and a lecturer and Imogen is a culture publicist that works as a jewelry designer. From 1990 to 2010, they ran their own art consultancy business together. Sheeran also has a brother Matthew, two years older than him, who is now a classical composer.
When Sheeran was a little boy, his family moved to Framlingham in Suffolk. His parents would travel to London for work and, on weekends, would take the whole family on car trips around the country. This is where they would listen to music and discover new artists. Their repertoire included Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. John also took Sheeran to live concerts of those artists and all in all laid a strong foundation for both him and his brother to develop a sense and love for music, and make it the inspiration for their lives. Sheeran said his parents were ‘supportive of my music in that they allowed me to drop out of school and move out of our home, which not many parents would do.’ Sheeran’s musical education from an early age resulted in him being a part of the local church choir at the age of four. He soon learnt how to play a guitar. ‘It was my love for the guitar that first got me into music and singing’, he said later on.
As a student of Thomas Mills High School, he began writing his own songs. By the age of 16, Sheeran already released his first EP called The Orange Room. Next year, he released Want Some? and a few more: You Need Me, Loose Change, Songs I Wrote With Amy and Live in Bedford. He moved to London where he worked on getting more experience. ‘I saw Damien Rice in Dublin when I was 13, and that inspired me to want to pursue being a songwriter… I practised relentlessly and started recording my own EPs. At 16, I moved to London and played any gigs I could, selling CDs from my rucksack to fund recording the next, and it snowballed from there.’ When asked about the artists he looked up to the most, Sheeran said they were Damien Rice, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Nizlopi and Eminem. Their influence led him to create his own special blend of music, spreading from folk to hip-hop. ‘I’m quite arty. I didn’t know whether to become an artist or a musician but I realized I could paint with music. All my songs have colour.’, he said about his style. Sheeran made friends with another singer, Passenger and the two of them even shared a gig in Cambridge.
In 2010, aged 19, Sheeran bought a ticket to Los Angeles, in a brave attempt to attend a poetry night. He played open mic night and was spotted by Jamie Foxx who offered Sheeran a couch to crash on and a studio to use for the rest of his stay. With that, he opened a door for Sheeran’s worldwide career.
Throughout 2010, Edward Sheeran uploaded videos to YouTube, gaining more and more views and a mention in The Independent newspaper. This is also the time he got noticed by no other than Elton John. In 2011, Sheeran released another extended record, titled No. 5 Collaborations Project. The EP sold over 7,000 copies upon its first week’s release on iTunes and soon reached no. 2. Sheeran decided to put on a free show for his fans in Camden Town and ended up playing four different shows because he didn’t want anyone who showed up for it to miss it. He even played on the street after the venue had closed down. Soon, with the help of Elton John, Sheeran got signed by the American record label Asylum Records.
His first album titled Plus (written as ‘+’) got released later in 2011 and has been certified six-times platinum in the UK. The year after, Sheeran won the Best British Male Solo Artist award at the Brits Awards, as well as an award for the British Breakthrough Act. That year, Sheeran wrote a song for the One Direction’s debut album called ‘Moments’. Sheeran’s music also slowly became featured in television shows, like The Vampire Diaries.
In 2012, Sheeran made a guest appearance on Taylor Swift’s album Red, writing the song ‘Everything Has Changed’. It was Taylor who contacted him first and the two have been good friends ever since. The fact that Sheeran was invited to open for Taylor’s The Red Tour in North America in 2013 was a next big move in his career. Soon Sheeran went on to perform as many as three sold-out shows at the Madison Square Garden. That same year Sheeran’s song ‘The A Team’ from his album got nominated for a Grammy for the Song of the Year. He attended the ceremony and performed the song with his mentor, Elton John. This single was the best-selling debut single of the year and overall eighth best-selling. He also performed the song on Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration.
What followed was his second studio album Multiply (written as ‘x’), in 2014. Sheeran wrote as many as 120 songs in preparation for it. The album won the Album of the Year Brit Award, and the song from it, ‘Thinking Out Loud’, got him a Grammy for the Song of the Year and the Best Pop Solo Performance. After the release of the album, Sheeran went on his own world tour. The success of the album made Spotify name Sheeran one of the most streamed musicians and his album to be one of the most streamed records. Also, iTunes named him their biggest selling artist in the UK. Multiply was nominated as the Album of the Year at that year’s Grammy Awards and was named the second best-selling album worldwide in 2015, right after Adele’s 25. Then, Sheeran decided to take a break to go travelling and write more songs.
At the end of the next year and the beginning of 2017, Sheeran began his teasing campaign for the new album Divide ( written as ‘÷’ ) which is to be released in March 2017. He released two singles from the third album, ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’ both topping the charts consecutively.
Sheeran has owned his own record label since 2015, called Gingerbread Man Records, created with the help of the Warner Music Group. The first artist to sign a deal with the label was Jamie Lawson. Sheeran is ranked as the 27th-highest-earning celebrity in the world of the year 2015.
Sheeran is known as an honest and a progressive artist who is very professional when working. And although people would like to see him as a womanizing rock star, that’s just not who he is.
‘I always expected it to happen (to become a paparazzi target) and then it never did. I think it’s because I’ve never done anything interesting. Like I’ve never been caught taking cocaine or having sex with a stripper or, you know, things that end up ruining people in the press. I haven’t done these things. I haven’t dated a famous person. I’m not that scandalous.’
Sheeran has been involved in numerous charity events. He is an ambassador for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice. He often donates his clothes to charity shops, like the ones he wore at the Grammy Awards. He also performed at a concert in Bristol, raising £40,000 for a charity that reaches out to street sex workers, saying: ‘It’s good to show insight that these people are real people with real emotions and they deserve the same charity work as anyone else.’ Sheeran’s music video for the song ‘The A Team’ deals with the issue of prostitution and homelessness.
In 2014, Sheeran joined the group Band Aid 30, along with other artists and recorded the latest version of the song ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ to raise money for the fight against the Ebola virus in Africa. Next year, he performed at the Global Citizen Festival in a cause for bringing an end to extreme global poverty.
All in all, Sheeran tries to do as much good as he can with the talent he’s given. ‘Music is a powerful tool in galvanizing people around an issue. There’s no better way to get your point across than to put it in a beautiful song.’, he concludes.
Sheeran is a family man at his core. ‘I’m honestly more of a relationship kind of guy. I’m a guy you could take home to meet your mum rather than a guy your mum wouldn’t like.’, he says about himself. He proved this by buying a farm close to his hometown, Framlingham in Suffolk, as soon as he could afford it with his publishing deals, and renovating it so it will be suitable for him to raise a family there. ‘I’d like to have kids and a wife, and, you know, drop them off at school and like, do normal things rather than constantly being on tour. Because I’m young now and I haven’t really got a social life. This is all I do. It’s the best job in the world, but I’ll get to the point where there’s more to life than work.’
When it comes to his relationships, one of Sheeran’s first girlfriends was artist Nina Nesbitt who appeared in his music video ‘Drunk’. She is the subject of two of his songs, while Sheeran is the topic of most of her album Peroxide. In 2014, Sheeran dated Athina Andrelos, who works for Jamie Oliver and was an inspiration for the hit song ‘Thinking Out Loud’. From 2015, Sheeran has been dating Cherry Seaborn, his high school friend.
About his personality, Sheeran adds: ‘I’ve never been a confident person, except from a musical standpoint. I had to push myself early on, but it got easier with each gig.’ He believes he shouldn’t make the music his fans want him to make, just do whatever he feels is right, and people will follow. And when asked about his future, he says: ‘I want to have a career that evolves as I go on.’ He surely will.
Sheeran also has a big fan base that call themselves Sheerios.
Written by: Tamara Djordjevic