In just a few short years, singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has emerged as one of the hottest new performers out of the UK. Still only 26 years old, he has produced three chart-topping albums, toured with Taylor Swift, and become one of the most followed British celebrities on social media. It seems like every new artistic project he takes on becomes instantly successful.
Early life of Ed Sheeran
Edward Sheeran was born in 1991 in Halifax, West Yorkshire and grew up in Framlingham, Suffolk. As a young child, he listened to the records of Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, dreaming of becoming a big-time performer. With his parents, he went to live concerts of Clapton, Dylan and Paul McCartney, and each time, they helped to form his future musical style. As a teenager, he acted, played guitar, wrote songs, and develop a real appreciation for music.
His first collection of work was Spinning Man, which was released in 2004 when he was just thirteen. He moved to London in 2008, and that’s where he started to become known as an up-and-coming talent. He released another EP, You Need Me, before getting noticed by other acts.
He was also active online, where other artists learned about him and his music. In late 2009, he began attending the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, Surrey. And in early 2010, he released his critically acclaimed EP Loose Change, which featured the debut single that everyone is still talking about, “The A Team.”
That was 2010, when he was still only 19 years old, but he was determined to really hit it big, so he decided to take his musical act across the Atlantic to Los Angeles. He had no contacts in the U.S. music industry, but was soon discovered by the likes of celebrity Jamie Foxx. He also became a YouTube sensation, and his fans included big-time celebrities like Elton John.
In 2010, Sheeran released two more EPs, Ed Sheeran: Live At the Bedford and Songs I Wrote With Amy. It was clear that he was building a lot of momentum for his career, and that led to the release of yet another independent EP, No. 5 Collaborations Project.
What was so amazing about this EP is that it went straight to #2 on iTunes despite not having any promotion behind it. He also wasn’t yet signed to a label! So you could say that it was his talent alone that made him a singing sensation – the more people who heard him sing, the more people who fell in love with his music. It was clear what was going to happen next – he was going to be signed to a major label, and he would produce a full studio album.
Ed Sheeran enters the pop music mainstream
In April 2011, Ed Sheeran released his song “The A Team” as a digital download in the UK after performing the song on a music TV show. There was so much acclaim around the song that it quickly became the bestselling debut single of the year. It became a Top 10 hit around the world, even in places like New Zealand and Japan. Sheeran then released three more singles, all of which promptly became Top 10 hits.
Based on all this initial success, it was finally time to release a full studio album – + – with the help of his new record label, Asylum Records. The album + became a bestseller in the UK, and also topped the charts in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United States.
And that success created even more opportunities for Sheeran – he performed “The A Team” for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, and he also performed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, further raising his profile in the world.
Then came another breakthrough – and that was his collaboration with Taylor Swift, who contacted Sheeran about touring together. From March to September 2013, Sheeran was the opening act for Taylor Swift’s Red Tour. And, along the way, he continued to pick up awards.
His song “The A Team” was nominated for “Song of the Year” at the 2013 Grammy Awards, and at the 2014 Grammy Awards, he was nominated for “Best New Artist.” By this time, he was now headlining major concert venues in New York, such as Madison Square Garden, and it was clear that he was a truly huge musical star in the making.
Another big career move for Ed Sheeran
However, you can’t become a major music star with only album, and so it was time to start thinking about how to follow-up the phenomenal success of +. In March 2014, Sheeran began releasing new music that would become the basis for his second studio album, x. The first single for that album was “Take It Back,” and the second single was “Sing.” He also released an acoustic ballad, “One.”
Then, in June 2014, Sheeran released the full studio album. As might be expected by now, the album skyrocketed to #1 in both the UK and the US. And Sheeran embarked on another world tour to promote it. Then came the release of “Thinking Out Loud,” which officially became the album’s third single. It also was a spectacular success, and Sheeran became one of the top artists on both iTunes and Spotify.
That led to a lot of critical acclaim. For example, his album x picked up a huge nomination – “Album of the Year” – at the 2015 Grammy Awards. In addition to picking up awards, Sheeran was also co-hosting big-time shows, like the 2015 Much Music Video Awards in Toronto.
And he even was an opening act for the Rolling Stones in June 2015. His single “Thinking Out Loud” picked up two Grammy Awards in 2016, and his album x was officially the second-bestselling album of 2015, trailing only 25 by Adele.
A timeout from music and then a big return for Ed Sheeran
With all of that public success, and plenty of performing with some of the biggest musical acts in the world, it was time for Ed Sheeran to take a timeout from music and plan his next steps. That turned into a year-long hiatus from music.
But then something very amazing happened in December 2016 – Sheeran began leaking hints and clues about his new album. In January 2017, it was time to release the first new music from his third studio album, which was to be named ¸(“divide”).
The first two songs were “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill” – and both were complete blockbuster smashes. In fact, “Shape of You” debuted at #1 and “Castle on the Hill” debuted at #2 –the first time that had happened in UK history. And it wasn’t just in the UK where Sheeran’s music was causing waves – “Shape of You” became a huge hit internationally.
In the U.S., “Shape of You” went straight to #1, while “Castle on the Hill” topped out at #6. He became the first-ever artist in the U.S. to have two songs debut at the same time in the Top 10. Sheeran now plans to tour Europe, South America and North America to support this third studio album.
More superstardom ahead for Ed Sheeran
So what’s next for this talented UK musician? In addition to being a phenomenally successful and popular singer-songwriter, it now looks like Sheeran is becoming a big-time record producer. He launched his own label, Gingerbread Man Records, in August 2015. Since then, the label has launched two up-and-coming stars, Jamie Lawson and Foy Vance.
And Sheeran is also becoming more and more involved in charitable ventures. He’s particularly involved with philanthropies and charities in his home county of Suffolk in the UK. He has also performed concerts in support of victims of Africa’s deadly Ebola virus.
And don’t forget about Sheeran’s potential future career in acting. He’s already appeared in a few soap operas – in New Zealand, the U.S. and Australia. And, most interestingly, he’s now preparing for a role in a medieval-themed drama (“The Bastard Executioner”) appearing on FX. According to Sheeran, this was a purposeful attempt to play against type – he didn’t want to be someone who just appeared in soap operas or romantic comedies.
In terms of his personal life, it appears that Sheeran may be getting married soon. In May 2017, details started to emerge about his engagement with Cherry Seaborn. (In hindsight, that might be why Sheeran decided to take a year off from music!)
What’s clear now is that Ed Sheeran is truly one of the music industry’s brightest stars. At the age of 26, it seems like he is on top of the world. Every new single he releases goes straight to #1, and he is touring and performing with some of the biggest names.
How many other people have performed with Elton John, the Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift in a 24-month period? Going forward, the musical world is waiting expectantly for the release of new music from Sheeran’s third studio album. It’s clear that this album ¸ going to be a huge smash hit, just like + and x.