Born in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire in 1991, Ed Sheeran was brought up in Suffolk. Sheeran’s early musical career began when he was aged just four when he sang in his local church choir in Framlingham. Later in his childhood, he took up the guitar and at the age of eleven he met the singer-songwriter Damien Rice who gave the young Sheeran the advice that he ought to write his own material. Soon afterwards, Sheeran began penning his own songs.
By 2005, Sheeran’s song writing and performing abilities had progressed to the extent that he recorded his first independent collection of tunes released as ‘The Orange Room EP’. In 2008, he moved to London and was able to get gigs in the small venue circuit of the capital city. In April of that year, he supported Nizlopi at a gig in Norwich and later toured with Just Jack, promoting his new EP, ‘You Need Me’. In 2010, Sheeran was invited to tour in support of the rap artist Example.
In February of 2010, Sheeran released his second EP. This one was entitled ‘Loose Change’ and featured the acclaimed song ‘The A Team’ which would later provide Sheeran with his breakthrough hit single. Later in that year, he relocated once more, this time to Los Angeles where Sheeran undertook a series of gigs and open mic nights. Following an appearing at Jamie Foxx’s club, the actor allowed Sheeran the use of his recording studio. Soon afterwards, he released a new EP called ‘Ed Sheeran: Live at the Bedford’.
Featuring a number of grime artists, including JME and Ghetts, Sheeran began 2011 with the release of a further EP. Named ‘No. 5 Collaborations Project’, this self-released EP reached number two in the iTunes chart, a huge feat for an unsigned act with very little promotional backing. Soon afterwards, and partly to say thanks to the people who had downloaded this EP, Sheeran put on a free concert at the Barfly, in Camden. Such was the success of the event, he needed to play four consecutive shows just so all of his fans could see him.
About this time, Sheeran was invited by the BBC to perform on its flagship musical show, ‘Later… With Jools Holland‘. He performed ‘The A Team’ to much acclaim and this song was soon made available for digital download in the UK. By this time Sheeran has been signed to Asylum/Atlantic Records and the song enjoyed huge success in the charts. Not only was it the best-selling single for a debut artist, ‘The A Team’ entered the UK singles chart at number three and sold 58,000 copies in the week following its release. Ultimately, ‘The A Team’ would sell over 800,000 copies in the course of 2011, making it the eight most popular song in the UK for that year. It also became a top ten hit in countries such as Australia, Ireland, Japan, Germany and the Netherlands. Ed Sheeran’s musical apprenticeship was now over and he had truly arrived as an international singer-songwriter of note.
Sheeran followed up the huge success he enjoyed with ‘The A Team’ with a string of further hits. In August 2011, he chose ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’ as his second single which went on to reach number four in the UK charts. ‘Lego House’ was released in November of that year, peaking at number five in the charts. It featured a memorable video starring Rupert Grint who had found fame acting in the ‘Harry Potter’ series of films. In February of 2012, his fourth single ‘Drunk’ also made the top ten.
With four consecutive hit singles, it is little wonder that Sheeran’s first full album was a success, too. Entitled simply as ‘+’ it sold 102,000 copies in its first week and was a number one album. In 2012, Sheeran teamed up with Taylor Swift for ‘Everything Has Changed’ which featured on her album ‘Red’. He also co-wrote a song for the boy band One Direction, called ‘Moments’. Furthermore, ‘The A Team’ was later named as best song – musically and lyrically – at the prestigious Ivor Novello Awards. By 2014, his second album ‘X’ had also charted at number one, featuring two notable singles, ‘Sing’ and ‘Thinking Out Loud’.
Photo courtesy of Eva Rinaldi used under Creative Commons.