Shawn Mendes Biography - Biography

Shawn Mendes Biography

Songwriter, Singer (1998–)
Shawn Mendes is a Canadian singer and songwriter who rose to fame initially by posting six-second song covers on the video-sharing application Vine. He is known for his hit "Stitches" and "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back."

Who Is Shawn Mendes?

Shawn Mendes is a Canadian pop singer and songwriter. After uploading a series of his cover versions to various video-sharing sites (beginning with the now-defunct video-sharing application Vine in 2012), Mendes earned a dedicated following that he cultivated through social media outlets. His talent, teen-idol good looks and built-in fan base quickly landed him a record deal. In 2014 his debut single, "Life of the Party,” charted at no. 24 on the Billboard 100, making the then 15-year-old Mendes the youngest artist to have a debut song within the Top 25.

Although he has been dubbed “the next Justin Bieber” — both are good-looking, successful and Canadian — his acoustic-driven and catchy songs are more aligned with his idol Ed Sheeran’s musical style and Mendes quickly transitioned to writing his own songs. His loyal fans (of mostly tween and teenage girls) have supported his seven platinum-selling hits, as well as arena-size world tours, both as an opening act for Taylor Swift and as a headliner.

Shawn Mendes Photo

Shawn Mendes, photographed backstage before a live performance at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, on May 5, 2016. 

Shawn Mendes Songs & Albums

'Stitches' Hits the Top 10

In 2014 Mendes released his Island Records debut, The Shawn Mendes EP, which soared to no. 5 on the music charts with sales topping 100,000. In 2015 he released his full-length debut, Handwritten, which came out at No. 1 in both the U.S. and Canada. The single "Stitches" fared even better by reaching no. 1 in European music charts and the Top Ten in North America. Added onto that, his song "Believe" was featured in the Disney Channel musical Descendants.  

Mendes and Camila Cabello: 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'

While touring with Taylor Swift on her 1989 World Tour, Mendes collaborated with Fifth Harmony's Camila Cabello on the track "I Know What You Did Last Summer," which became a Top 20 hit in the U.S. and Canada. 

The track "Treat You Better" was also released shortly and become a Top Ten hit.

'Illuminate' & World Tour

In September 2016, Mendes released his second album Illuminate. Describing his sophomore project, the budding artist found it to resemble the styles of Ed Sheeran and John Mayer, and in keeping with those two artists, Mendes did virtually all of the songwriting for it. His efforts were a huge success, as he topped the charts and went platinum in the U.S. and Canada. 

Just two months later, Mendes issued Live at Madison Square Garden, followed by a world tour in 2017. After releasing another Top 10 hit with "There's Nothing Holdin Me Back," Mendes also made a record with MTV Unplugged.

Starting Out on Vine

Vine was a six-and-a-half-second video-sharing service that launched in June 2012. That August, a then 14-year-old Mendes decided to show off his talents by uploading a video of himself singing Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me” — acoustic style. When he checked his account the next day, he discovered he had accrued a whopping 10,000 likes.

Mendes is now something of a poster boy for how to become a superstar in the social media era and an example of how the music business now assimilates new artists. Through Vine, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, he built a massive, grassroots fandom. He is also dedicated to interacting with his fans on an almost daily basis.

Mendes’ cover renditions caught the attention of his now-manager, Andrew Gertler, who convinced the singer and his father to come to New York and sign with Island Records. He was impressed with the drive Mendes showed from the beginning, noting that he’s always been really wise beyond his years. “He’s grown immensely in the last year,” Gertler said in a September 2017 interview with Billboard. “His musical abilities have grown. His vocal abilities, his guitar playing. …I’ve seen him go from the kid who’s playing an acoustic guitar to an amazing front man with a band and, to me, a modern-day version of a rock star.”

Self-Taught Musician

Not only was Mendes discovered by posting his performances on the Internet, but he also taught himself to play guitar via YouTube.

“I would type in things like, “How to play beginner songs on guitar,’” he said in an interview with The Telegraph. “I taught myself these chords and slowly started to get the hang. I was obsessed with it. Every day I’d play and think, I’m not good enough yet; I need to get better. Then I’d play for hours and hours.”

His obsession with watching YouTube covers is what led him to post his own across social media. He became determined to pursue it, and also started taking vocal lessons.

Early Years and High School

Shawn Peter Raul Mendes was born on August 8, 1998 in Toronto, Canada to Karen and Manuel Mendes. He and his younger sister, Aaliyah, grew up in Pickering, Ontario, a Toronto suburb, where he went to Pine Ridge Secondary School. Among his extracurricular activities, he played sports like soccer and ice hockey and also took acting classes. Though he left school in his junior year to go on tour, he kept up with his homework via online courses and was able to graduate with his class in June 2016. 

Future Plans

Mendes and his team plan to dedicate most of 2018 to working on his third studio album. “We have spent a month in Los Angeles,” Mendes told NME in November. “I think people will be surprised, but I’m not sure about the sound yet. I’m still exploring and trying to figure myself out. Anything is possible.”

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