Who Is Ed Sheeran?
Ed Sheeran is a singer/songwriter who began playing guitar at a young age and soon after started writing his own songs. When he was just a teenager, he moved to London to pursue his music, and his outpouring of creativity added up to several early EPs and hundreds of live shows. Drawing attention for his online performances, Sheeran hit No. 1 on the iTunes chart before he ever signed with a record label. Since signing with Atlantic, Sheeran has sold millions of records and won Grammys for hits like "Thinking Out Loud" and "Shape of You," as well as his 2018 album, ÷.
Early Years and Career in London
Ed Sheeran was born on February 17, 1991, in Halifax, West Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. When he was young, he began playing guitar, showing early promise as a musical talent. When he was 11, Sheeran met singer-songwriter Damien Rice backstage at one of Rice’s shows, and the young musician found added inspiration. As the story goes, Rice told Sheeran to write his own music, and Sheeran set out the next day to do just that.
It wasn’t long before Sheeran was recording CDs and selling them, and he soon put together his first official EP, The Orange Room. With that accomplishment and his abiding ambition driving him, at only 14 years of age, Sheeran headed to London for the summer. Thinking he could find gigs in the big city, Sheeran left home with his guitar and a backpack full of clothes, and his musical career took flight.
Once in London, Sheeran got busy recording and playing the local singer/songwriter circuit and quickly released two albums: a self-titled record in 2006 and Want Some? in 2007. He also began opening for more established acts, such as Nizlopi, the Noisettes and Jay Sean, and released another EP, You Need Me, in 2009, a year that found Sheeran playing more than 300 live shows.
It wasn’t until 2010 that Sheeran made the leap to the next level in his career, and it came via online media, a route Sheeran had learned to use with great effectiveness. When a video he posted online got the attention of Example, a rapper, Sheeran was asked to go on the road with him as his opening act. This led to an even larger online fan base and inspiration for many more songs, which ended up filling three new EPs, all in 2010.
Albums and Songs
When Sheeran headed to the United States in 2010, he found a new fan in Jamie Foxx, who asked Sheeran to appear on his Sirius radio show. Soon after, in January 2011, Sheeran released yet another EP, his last as an independent artist. Without any promotion, the record reached No. 2 on the iTunes chart, and he signed on with Atlantic Records that same month.
With Atlantic, Sheeran released his major debut studio album, +. An instant hit, the album sold more than a million copies in the United Kingdom in the first six months alone. Sheeran began co-writing songs with bigger artists, such as One Direction and Taylor Swift, and supported Swift on her 2013 arena tour.
'I See Fire' and 'x' (Multiply)
On a roll, Sheeran’s next success would come when his song "I See Fire" was featured in the movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and in June 2014, his next album, x, appeared, debuting at No. 1 in the United States and the United Kingdom. The project featured three Top 10 singles — "Don't," "Photograph" and "Thinking Out Loud" — with the latter winning the Grammy for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance in 2016.
In 2016, Sheeran took a hiatus to work on his third studio album, ÷. In January 2017, he released two singles from the album, "Shape of You" and "Castle on the Hill," which debuted at No. 1 and No. 6, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100. Sheeran subsequently released ÷ in March 2017, and announced a world tour. His new album broke a Spotify record for first-day album streams with 56.7 million listens in 24 hours.
In late 2017, Sheeran delivered another hit with the love song "Perfect," also released as a joint effort with Beyoncé, titled "Perfect Duet." The original version hit No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Songs and Adult Pop Songs charts in mid-January 2018. Later that month, Sheeran added to his Grammy haul by winning Best Pop Solo Performance for "Shape of You" and Best Pop Vocal Album for ÷.
'No.6 Collaborations Project'
May 2019 brought the release of the Sheeran-Justin Bieber track "I Don't Care," the first single from Sheeran's upcoming studio album, No.6 Collaborations Project. An immediate success, "I Don't Care" established a new single-day streaming record for Spotify. The English hitmaker followed with the releases of "Cross Me," with Chance the Rapper and PnB Rock, and "Beautiful People," featuring Khalid, with No.6 ultimately producing eight singles before picking up a Grammy nod for Best Pop Vocal Album.
Films and TV Shows
Sheeran has surfaced in numerous films as himself, including Bridget Jones's Baby (2016) and the Beatles-inspired musical Yesterday (2019). He also landed a recurring role in the 2015 FX series The Bastard Executioner, and later appeared in an episode of Game of Thrones and the Amazon anthology series Modern Love.
As Sheeran's fame swelled, so did the number of cases against the Grammy-winning artist seeking compensation for copyright infringement. In 2014, songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard alleged that Sheeran's "Photograph" was ripped off from their track "Amazing," written for 2010 X Factor winner Matt Cardle. The case was settled out of court in 2017.
In 2016, the heirs of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote Marvin Gaye's 1973 classic "Let's Get It On," claimed that Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" borrowed extensively from the Gaye track. The case was dismissed the following year, but Sheeran was hit with a new lawsuit in June 2018 over the same song from Structured Asset Sales, which owned part of Townsend's catalog.
In early 2018, Sean Carey and Beau Golden sought $20 million in damages over claims that "The Rest of Our Life," co-written by Sheeran for country music stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, copied their song "When I Found You," recorded by Jasmine Rae. The lawsuit was settled late in the year.
Royal Honors and Personal Life
On December 7, 2017, Sheeran was made a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his services to music and charity.
After receiving the honor from Prince Charles, Sheeran gushed about the occasion, but also noted it was bittersweet: "My grandfather ... he died on this day four years ago, so it's actually quite a nice full circle thing," he said, according to the prince's Twitter account. "I guess he'd be pretty proud."
A few weeks later, Sheeran announced that he had celebrated another momentous occasion by getting engaged to girlfriend Cherry Seaborn just before the new year. In August, he revealed that the two had secretly gotten married since then, telling the surprised interviewer that he's never "too public" about such personal details. In August 2020, the pair welcomed their first child, daughter Lyra Antarctica Seaborn Sheeran.
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