Standing tall, good looking and baby faced, Shawn Mendes could be like any other teenager, but he isn’t. Starting his career on the video sharing application, Vine, Shawn has blossomed beyond his expectations in a span of less than 5 years. The Canadian singer and songwriter is tipped to become an even bigger superstar than Justin Bieber given his musical and vocal talent and his multi-lingual ability. With two hit albums already on the domain, Mendes is definitely destined for even more success.
Born in Toronto, Shawn Peter Raul Mendes was raised in Pickering area of Ontorio, Canada. His father Manuel Mendes is a businessman while his mother Karen Rayment worked as a real estate agent. Manuel is said to have Portuguese descent while on the other hand Karen’s roots are in Dorset, England. Shawn has one sister named Aaliyah Mendes who is 5 years younger than him.
Mendes attended Pine Ridge Secondary School in the suburbs of Ontario where his main interests were longboarding and sports like Ice Hockey and football. He however diverted to music after it proved more lucrative. Shawn’s musical career soon became quite demanding and he could no longer attend fulltime classes. Nevertheless, Mendes did not give up education but instead took his 11th grade classes online. Finally, Mendes managed to earn his diploma in 2016 and he proudly flaunted the graduation robe on social media.
Shawn’s love for music started when he was in elementary school. In an interview he stated that “I started singing in elementary and I got a fantastic response from fellow students.”
Shawn was a computer wizard from the early days and he trained himself to play the guitar by simply watching YouTube videos when he was only 13-years old. Other instruments that he plays exceptionally well include the piano and keyboard.
In 2013, out of discovery, he started creating and posting short music covers of famous music videos on the social video app Vine. According to Mendes, he never did it for fame but rather for fun. Unknown to Shawn, this would turn him into an overnight megastar. He actually recalls a day he uploaded a clip of himself singing an acoustic version of Justin Bieber’s ‘As Long As You Love Me’ and by the following day, the clip had more than 10,000 likes. In a few months, he had accumulated a vast following and millions of views for his six second snippets of popular clips. Soon, he was among the most followed musicians on Vine. He also got the honor to be part of the Magcon tour (Meet and Greet Convention) alongside other young artists on Vine with a huge following such as Nash Grier, Cameron Dallas and others.
In late 2013, artist manager Andrew Gertler discovered Mendes and signed him to a record deal with Island Records in May 2014. One month down the line, Shawn released his debut single ‘The Life of the Party’. Far from his expectations, the track became a massive hit earning him the title of the youngest singer to rank in the top 25 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Shawn was not one to get contented on initial success, he embarked on more works that could elevate him even further. He released his debut EP titled The Shawn Mendes EP in July 2014. The EP was also a success and reached No. 1 on iTunes in just 35 minutes. It sold more than 48,000 copies in the first week of release and peaked at No. 5 on Billboard 200 Charts.
The Canadian teen was doing exceptionally well and Teen Choice Awards rewarded him in 2014 for Webstar music. That same year, Shawn was featured in The Vamps’ fifth single ‘Oh Cecilia (Breaking My Heart)’.
In anticipation to releasing his debut album, Shawn embarked on his first international headlining tour titled Shawn First Headlines. He had a total of 39 shows in Europe and America.
In April 2015, Mendes released his debut album Handwritten through Island Records. To his relief, the album was well received selling 119,000 copies in the first week and debuting No. 1 on Billboard 200 Charts. However, the sales declined with a big margin in the second week. Nevertheless, the album’s third single ‘Stitches’ became his first track to rank on top 10 after peaking No. 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Charts. The song also reached No. 1 in the UK and on the Mainstream Top 40 chart. In total, the album had 12 track singles some of which include his debut single and lead song ‘Life of the Party’, ‘Something Big’ and ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’.
Mendes popularity was thriving and in 2015, Time named him one of the 25 Most Influential Teens of the Year.
More of his 2015 works included recording the song ‘Believe’ courtesy of Disney Channel movie Descendants. He also collaborated with Camila Cabello to release the collaborative single ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ which was included in Shawn’s Handwritten album.
That same year, Shawn accompanied Taylor Shift in her concert tour titled The 1989 World Tour. Mendes was honored to perform opening acts for several of Taylor’s performances in North America.
Given the experience he received from Taylor’s tour, Shawn was ready to promote this album through his second headlining concert tour dubbed Shawn Mendes World Tour. The tour began in March 2016 and it is reportedly supposed to end exactly one year later in March 2017. Shawn started out in North America, Europe, Oceania and is set to end the concert in The Philippines.
Shawn was however highly criticized after he encouraged his fans to buy the album from stores as opposed to online. Mendes argument was that, buying from the store would give him a chance to meet with his fans face to face. Critics however considered the act unethical and exploitative.
Away from Handwritten, 2016 was an even brighter year for Mendes. He not only got featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 list, but he also signed with Wilhelmina models. The agency agreed to complement and strengthen Shawn’s career through seeking endorsement and product deals for the singer. The agreement also included the beginning of a modeling career for the pretty and talented Canadian teen.
Shawn was now garnering a huge fan base and to maintain them, he released his second studio album Illuminate in September 2016. The album’s lead song, ‘Treat You Better’ was however released earlier in June 2016. The song’s music video performed well peaking at No. 6 on Hot 100 Charts. Other hit singles in the album included ‘Mercy’ which peaked on top 40 in the US radio stations, ‘Ruin’ and ‘Three Empty Words’.
The Illuminate album was well received and debuted at No. 1 in the Billboard Charts. In the first week of release, 121,000 copies were sold in the US only. The album success made him one of the five artists to have two albums peak at No. 1 before the age of 18 years.
Shawn Mendes is set to promote his album through The Illuminate World Tour starting April 2017. Mendes plans to have a total of 51 shows in Europe, North and South America.
So far, Mendes has received several awards and nominations thanks to his great vocals and talent as a guitarist. Some of them include an iHeartRadio Music Award, two awards from MTV Europe Music Awards, three Much Music Video Awards as well as the Allan Slaight Honor Award from Canada’s Walk of Fame. In 2015, he was also honored the Breakout Award during the SOCAN Awards held in Toronto, Canada.
Despite his young career, Mendes has a huge fan base with 19 million Instagram followers, 6 million likes on Facebook and 9 million followers on Twitter. His popularity has also been influenced by his philanthropy works. In 2014, he partnered with DoSomething.org to launch the Notes from Shawn Campaign. The campaign’s goal was to address issues affecting teenagers such as low self esteem, depression and self harm awareness. The campaign was re-launched for another year in 2015.
Mendes also works with Pencils of Promise (PoP), an organization that aims at providing quality education by building schools and providing educational opportunities to the underprivileged around the world. In 2015, Shawn raised $25,000 in support of the foundation to build a school in Ghana, Africa. The amount was 164% of his original set goal. Other organizations that Mendes supports include Boston Children’s Hospital and GRAMMY Foundation.
Given his pretty looks and body stature, Shawn has endorsed several brands that include Beats by Dre, Boosted Boards, Cocowhite, Fan.si and Lovesac.
As a young artist, Shawn has had his share of controversies that have attracted sharp criticism. Rumors have in the past circulated regarding his sexuality after some of his Youtube videos were criticized to be giving “gay vibes”. However, Shawn refuted the claims stating that, “First of all, I’m not gay, Second of all, it shouldn’t make a difference if I was or if I wasn’t. The focus should be on the music and not my sexuality.”
His hit single ‘Treat You Better’ similarly attracted criticism after it was stated that the music video focused on domestic violence and relationships affected by abuse. In his defense however, Shawn urged his fans to look past the dark aspects of the video since the song was more about relationships and little on violence.
To those closest to him, Shawn is a brilliant, sometimes shy but humble Canadian pop star. However, there is a lot about his private and personal life that the public do not know about him.
In regards to his love life, it comes as no surprise that Shawn has no dating life to flaunt given his young age. However, rumors have in the past circulated of him dating collaborator Camila Cabello. The two have come strongly to refute the claims stating that, besides their collaboration on ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’, they are not in an intimate relationship.
The Canadian hitmaker maintains that he is single despite the thousands of girls who scream for him during performances. On a cover interview with Billboard, Mendes dished any sex possibilities at his minor age. Although his fans view him as a sex symbol, he states that it’s not cool unless one has a girlfriend. But now that he is 18, he made it clear that he will recognize the right girl when she comes his way. He made it even more humorous saying that ‘The second I feel about a girl the way I feel about music is when I know.”
However, Shawn has confessed that being a celebrity at his age makes it difficult to connect with women. During an interview with The Sun UK, he stated that some people view him as a “douchebag” because of his fame. For this reason, both men and women feel a bit intimidated by his high profile status.
Shawn has a guitar tattoo on his arm which he got at the age of 17. Although most people would deduce that its meaning has everything to do with music, there is more to it than that. From a distance, the guitar is an artistic drawing but when closer, the musical instrument has other special details. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Shawn points out that the stylish guitar comprises of woods, water reflection and sound waves connecting to the city of Toronto. The sound waves are a representation of his family uttering the words ‘I Love You.’ According to Shawn, his tattoo is a meaningful piece showing a connection between home, work and his family. Without any doubt, it’s clear that Mendes values his family despite his rocketing fame by the day.
Written by: Peris Ngaruiya