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Edward Christopher "Ed" Sheeran (born 17 February 1991) is an English singer-songwriter and musician. He was born in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire and raised in Framlingham, Suffolk. After dropping out of school at 16, he moved to London the following year, in 2008, to pursue a career in music. In early 2011, Sheeran independently released the extended play, No. 5 Collaborations Project, which caught the attention of Elton John and Jamie Foxx. After signing with Asylum Records, his debut album, + (read as "plus"), was released on 9 September 2011 and has since been certified six-times platinum in the UK. The album contains the single "The A Team", which earned him the Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. In 2012, Sheeran won the Brit Awards for Best British Male Solo Artist and British Breakthrough Act.
Sheeran's popularity abroad began in 2012. In the US, he made a guest appearance on Taylor Swift's fourth studio album, Red. "The A Team" was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2013 Grammy Awards, where he performed the song with Elton John. He spent much of 2013 opening for Swift's The Red Tour in North America dates. In late 2013, he performed three sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden as a headline act. He was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2014 Grammy Awards.
His second studio album, x (read as "multiply"), was released worldwide on 23 June 2014. It peaked at number one in the UK and the US. In 2015, x was nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards, won the Brit Award for Album of the Year, and he received the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year. As part of his world tour, Sheeran played three sold-out concerts at London's Wembley Stadium in July 2015, his biggest solo shows to date.
Sheeran was born in Hebden Bridge, a market town in Calderdale near Halifax, West Yorkshire. He moved, with his family, to Framlingham, Suffolk as a child. He has an older brother named Matthew, who was born on 17 March 1989. Matthew studied music at university and is now a classical composer. Their parents, John and Imogen, are London-born. His paternal grandparents were Irish. According to Sheeran, his father hailed from "a very large" Catholic family. His paternal grandfather, Bill, was a Protestant and his wife, Ann, was Catholic. Bill and Ann retired in Gorey, County Wexford.
John is an art curator and lecturer, and Imogen is a culture publicist-turned-jewellery designer. His parents ran Sheeran Lock, an independent art consultancy, from 1990 to 2010. Their work usually took them to London, and spent their weekends travelling with their children, while playing music. Sheeran's early childhood memories include listening to the records of Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. According to Sheeran, the album that first introduced him to music was Van Morrison's Irish Heartbeat.
Sheeran sang in a local church choir from the age of four, learned to play the guitar at a very young age, and began writing songs while at Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham. When he was eleven, he went with his father to a Damien Rice show in Ireland. In addition to Rice, he has also cited The Beatles, Dylan, Nizlopi and Eminem as his biggest musical influences. He is a patron of the Youth Music Theatre UK and of Access to Music, where he studied Artist Development course. He was accepted at the National Youth Theatre in London as a teenager.
2005–10: Career beginnings
Sheeran began recording music in 2005, and independently released his first collection of work, The Orange Room, an extended play (EP). He has been friends with fellow English singer, Passenger, since he was 15, with the two playing on the same gig in Cambridge. He moved to London in 2008, and began playing in small venues. In 2008, he auditioned for the ITV series, Britannia High. He also opened for Nizlopi in Norwich in April 2008, after being one of their guitar technicians. He released another EP in 2009, You Need Me, just before going on tour with Just Jack. He also did a few collaborations with Essex singer, Leddra Chapman, including CeeLo Green's "Fuck You". In February 2010, Sheeran posted a video through SB.TV, and rapper, Example, invited Sheeran to tour with him. In the same month, he also released his critically acclaimed Loose Change EP, which featured his future debut single, "The A Team".
In April 2010, Sheeran bought a ticket to Los Angeles, with no contacts other than one poetry night. He played open mic nights all over the city, before he was spotted at The Foxxhole by Jamie Foxx, who was so impressed that he offered Sheeran the use of his recording studio and the bed of his Hollywood home for the rest of his stay. Throughout 2010, Sheeran began to be seen by more people over the internet through YouTube and his fan-base grew, with him also getting credit from The Independent newspaper, England football captain Rio Ferdinand and Elton John. Sheeran also self-released two other EPs in 2010, Ed Sheeran: Live at the Bedford and Songs I Wrote with Amy, which is a collection of love songs he wrote in Wales with singer, Amy Wadge.
On 8 January 2011, Sheeran released another independent EP, No. 5 Collaborations Project, featuring grime artists such as Wiley, Jme, Devlin, Sway and Ghetts. With this EP, Sheeran gained mainstream attention for reaching number 2 in the iTunes chart without any promotion or label, selling over 7,000 copies in its first week. Three months later, Sheeran put on a free show to fans at the Barfly in Camden Town. Over 1,000 fans turned up, so Sheeran played four different shows to ensure everyone saw a gig, including a gig outside on the street after the venue had closed. Later that month, Sheeran was signed to Asylum Records.
2011–13: + and international success
On 26 April 2011, Sheeran appeared on the TV music show, Later... with Jools Holland, where he performed his debut single, "The A Team". Six weeks later, "The A Team" was released as a digital download in the UK. The release served as the lead single from Sheeran's debut studio album, + (read as "plus"). "The A Team" entered the UK Singles Chart at number three, selling over 58,000 copies in the first week. It was the best selling debut single and the overall eighth-best selling single of 2011, selling 801,000 copies. The lead single also became a top ten hit in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway and the Netherlands. During a headline set in the BBC Introducing tent at Glastonbury Festival 2011, Sheeran announced that "You Need Me, I Don't Need You" would be released on 26 August as the second single from the album. The second single peaked at number four on the UK Singles Chart. "Lego House" was released as the third single, reaching the top ten on Australian, Irish, Scottish, New Zealand Singles Charts, Flemish Ultratop 50 and the Wallonian Ultratip. "Drunk", released on 19 February 2012, became Sheeran's fourth consecutive top ten single in the UK, peaking at number nine.
Sheeran released + on 12 September 2011. The album received generally favourable reviews from music critics. + debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart for sales of 102,000 copies. By end of 2011, sales of the album in the UK stand at 791,000; it became the second best-selling debut album and the ninth biggest-selling album there. The album has been certified platinum six times by the British Phonographic Industry, denoting shipments of 1,800,000 copies. As of March 2012, the album had sold 1,021,072 copies in the UK. The album also reached the top five in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the US.
The song, "Moments", on the debut album by boy band One Direction, released in November 2011, was co-written by Sheeran. On 21 February, at the 2012 Brit Awards, Sheeran won the Brit Awards for Best British Male Solo Artist, and British Breakthrough Act of the Year. On 10 January 2012, it was announced that Sheeran would support Snow Patrol on their United States tour from late March until May on the band's Fallen Empires Tour. His song, "Give Me Love", was featured in the episode "Dangerous Liaisons" of The Vampire Diaries. It was also featured in the 12 February 2013 episode of the sitcom Cougar Town (TBS). At the Ivor Novello Awards in May 2012, Sheeran's "The A Team" bested Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and Florence and the Machine's "Shake It Out" for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. Sheeran performed "The A Team" at the United Kingdom's Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II on 4 June 2012 and a cover of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics on 12 August 2012.
Taylor Swift contacted Sheeran after hearing his music while touring Australia in March 2012. He later co-wrote and provided vocals for "Everything Has Changed", a single featured on Swift's fourth studio album, Red. Sheeran also contributed two songs to One Direction's second studio album, Take Me Home, released in November 2012; the single "Little Things" became the group's second number-one in the UK. Sheeran's album peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, while "The A Team" reached No. 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100. In late 2012 and early 2013, he headlined a US tour of 6,000–9,000 capacity venues. "The A Team" received a nomination for Song of the Year at the 2013 Grammy Awards. Elton John, who runs Sheeran's management company, canvassed the award organizers to get Sheeran a performance slot at the ceremony but was told that Sheeran alone was not high-profile enough. John decided to appear with Sheeran to circumvent this problem.
From March to September 2013, Sheeran played at arenas and stadiums across North America as the opening act for Swift's The Red Tour. According to Sheeran, it was then his biggest tour and added a scarlet RED tattoo to commemorate it. In October 2013, Sheeran headlined three sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden, which has a capacity of 18,200. At the concert, Sheeran debuted few songs including "Tenerife Sea", a future track on his second studio album. Sheeran released "I See Fire" on 5 November 2013, his first single in over two years. The song is featured in the end credits of the film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the film's soundtrack, and on the deluxe version of his second album. Sheeran was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2014 Grammy Awards.
On 24 March 2014, Sheeran performed at the Teenage Cancer Trust charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London where he unveiled "Take It Back", a track that would appear on the deluxe version of the second album. "Sing", the lead single, was released on 7 April 2014. Sonically, the song is a departure from Sheeran's previous recordings. "Sing" was intended to create hype over the album release, but from concern that this might alienate Sheeran's fan base, "One", an acoustic ballad, was released on 16 May 2014; "One" also marked the first of several promotional singles released leading to the album release. By early June 2014, "Sing" had earned Sheeran his first number-one single in the UK.
Sheeran's second studio album, x (read as "multiply"), was released worldwide on 23 June 2014. In a span of three years, Sheeran wrote more than 120 songs for the album, the earliest of which was composed shortly after + was released. The album features tracks produced by Rick Rubin, Pharrell Williams and Benny Blanco, as well as that of Gosling's. x peaked at number one in both the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200. To support the album, Sheeran embarked on a world tour starting on 6 August 2014 at Osaka, Japan. On 27 September 2014, Sheeran was one of the headline acts at the Melbourne Cricket Ground prior to the 2014 AFL Grand Final.
Following "Don't", "Thinking Out Loud" was released on 24 September 2014 as the album's third single. Unlike his previous music videos, Sheeran took the lead role in the single's accompaniment, where he performed a ballroom dance. It became his second single to reach number one in the UK, and spent eight weeks at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 (with only "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars keeping it from top spot). In 2014, combined streams on Sheeran's catalogue in Spotify reached 860 million; Spotify named him the most-streamed artist and x the most-streamed album. In the same year, the album also earned Sheeran the distinction of being iTunes' biggest-selling artist in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand.
On 25 February, Sheeran won British Male Solo Artist and British Album of the Year for x at the 2015 Brit Awards. At the Ivor Novello Awards on 21 May 2015, Sheeran received the award for Songwriter of the Year. On 21 June, Sheeran co-hosted the 2015 Much Music Video Awards in Toronto, where he performed the singles "Thinking Out Loud" and "Photograph"; he also won two awards, Best International Artist and Most Buzzworthy International Artist or Group. On 27 June, Sheeran performed as the opening act for The Rolling Stones in their Zip Code Tour date in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium. On 10–12 of July 2015, Sheeran performed sold-out shows at London's Wembley Stadium. The shows, which were announced in November 2014, were part of his world tour. The concert was documented and aired on 16 August 2015 on NBC; the one-hour special Ed Sheeran – Live at Wembley Stadium also included behind-the-scenes footage.
On 26 September, Sheeran performed at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park's Great Lawn in New York, an event organized by Coldplay lead singer, Chris Martin, that advocates an end to extreme global poverty. Sheeran headlined the festival along with Beyoncé, Coldplay, and Pearl Jam. The festival was broadcast on NBC in the US on 27 September and the BBC in the UK on 28 September. Sheeran co-hosted the 2015 MTV Europe Music Awards on 25 October in Milan, Italy. He won the awards for Best Live Act and Best Live Stage; the latter was in recognition for his performance at the 2014 V Festival in England. Sheeran won the Breakthrough award at the 2015 Billboard Touring Awards.
Gingerbread Man Records
In March 2015, Sheeran revealed he was setting up a record label, Gingerbread Man Records, which is a deal with Warner Music Group. The label was launched in August 2015 alongside its accompanying YouTube channel. Jamie Lawson, the label's first signee, met Sheeran while they were both in London's folk circuit. Lawson released his self-titled debut album on 9 October 2015, which has earned him a number one in the UK Albums Chart. Sheeran signed his second artist, Foy Vance, in November 2015.
Sheeran performed a gig in Bristol, which raised £40,000 for a charity that reaches out to street sex workers. "It's good to show insight that these people are real people with real emotions and they deserve the same charity work as anyone else," Sheeran said. "There's a lot more popular charities that get a lot of attention. And with certain subjects like this they're often washed over and people don't necessarily give them the attention they deserve." Tickets were available to those taking part in the charity's Give it up for One25 campaign by giving something up for 125 hours and hitting the £40,000 fundraising mark.
Sheeran frequently gives away his clothes to charity shops around his home county Suffolk. An ambassador for East Anglia's Children's Hospice, he has donated clothes to the St Elizabeth Hospice charity shop in Framlingham, including eight bags of clothes to the shop in February 2014, and eight items of clothing he wore at the 2015 Grammy Awards.
On 15 November 2014, Sheeran joined the charity supergroup Band Aid 30 along with other British and Irish pop acts, recording the latest version of the track "Do They Know It's Christmas?" at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, to raise money for the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa.
In November 2015, Sheeran supported the No Cold Homes campaign by the UK charity, Turn2us. Sheeran was one of nearly thirty celebrities, which included Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons and Hugh Laurie, to donate items of winter clothing to the campaign, with the proceeds used to help people in the UK struggling to keep their home warm in winter.
In early 2011, after securing recording and publishing deals, Sheeran purchased a farm near Framlingham, Suffolk, and had it renovated. He has stated that he hopes to raise a family there. He also bought a house in south London in early 2014. Sheeran lived between Hendersonville, Tennessee and Los Angeles for the duration of 2013. Sheeran is the second cousin of broadcaster Gordon Burns, who had hosted the British game show The Krypton Factor.
Sheeran was in a relationship with Scottish singer-songwriter, Nina Nesbitt (who was in his music video for "Drunk") in 2012, before breaking up. Nesbitt is the subject of Sheeran's songs, "Nina" and "Photograph", while the majority of Nesbitt's album, Peroxide, is about Sheeran. In January 2014, Sheeran started dating Athina Andrelos, who works for British celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver. She is the inspiration of Sheeran's song, "Thinking Out Loud". They broke up in February 2015. As of September 2015, Sheeran is dating his former high school friend, Cherry Seaborn.
In June 2015, Forbes listed his earnings at $57 million for the previous 12 months, and ranked him the 27th-highest-earning celebrity in the world. On 19 October 2015, Sheeran received an honorary degree from the University Campus Suffolk in Ipswich for his "outstanding contribution to music". Sheeran comments, "Suffolk is very much where I call home. Receiving this recognition is a real privilege."