Updated: May 10
Ed Sheeran is a multi-billion-streamed recording artist. The highly successful and prolific singer-songwriter has won several awards and sold more than 150 million records worldwide. If you think he got an easy start to his ultra-successful music career, that is not true. We look at Ed Sheeran’s journey to become the popular singer-songwriter he is today and what inspired him to make music.
Ed Sheeran was born in 1991 in Halifax, England and as a young boy, he struggled with socialising in school. He had an interest in music at a very young age and became part of the church choir at age 4.
At school, he was bullied for his stutter and oversized glasses. A surgery that went wrong caused him to have a lazy eye and severe speech problems when he was a child. His mouth would freeze and no word came out when he tried to speak in class. With other children mocking him, he gave up trying to participate in class.
He found that having ginger red hair did not help him with his image in school. Ginger men, he realised, just aren’t attractive and they need to take action in order to make something happen rather than wait for it.
Interest in music
Sheeran wasn’t doing well with speech therapy but that changed when his dad bought him Emininen’s record. He was so impressed with how fast the singer was rapping. That inspired him to learn every word by the time he was 10.
He was already writing music when he was 11 years old, inspired by a chat with Damien Rice, whom Sheeran admired. Ed’s stutter completely disappeared after he began to write more music. He knew from then that music was his calling and that he had to do something about it.
The beginning of a music career
At the tender age of 14, Ed Sheeran packed his guitar and some clothes and headed to London to find opportunities. It was a difficult journey. Sometimes he could not find a couch to sleep for the night and ended up in the parks or in the subway. There were nights when he had no money for food and nearly gave up. Lucky for us, he pressed on.
He played at small venues and continued producing more of his own music and releasing albums. He collaborated with singers on the way and played in more than 300 venues in 2009.
The big break
The big break for Ed Sheeran came in 2010. Not many musicians were leveraging the potential of social media at the time. But Sheeran was posting his videos online and one of them was noticed by the rapper Example who invited him to tour together.
Soon, more and more people across the world tuned in to his YouTube videos and the media began to pay attention to the ginger boy with a guitar and an amazing voice. Sheeran realised he had to move to America if he wanted to make it big.
Success in America
Ed Sheeran began to send out his music to anyone he could reach out to after he arrived in Los Angeles, without a contract or a place to stay. Until one day, Jamie Foxx, who was impressed with Sheeran invited him to use his recording studio. He was also given the chance to perform on stage and he was given a standing ovation.
Sheeran was soon invited to work with Atlantic Records after hitting the no. 2 sport on iTunes with a new song. His debut studio album “+” immediately sold 102,000 copies and became the second best-selling debut album in the UK. After this instant hit, he collaborated with One Direction and Taylor Swift.
His second studio album “x” was released in 2014 and went straight to the top in the US and the UK. He went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Song for “Thinking Out Loud” in 2016.
Ed Sheeran’s life story is an inspiration for all aspiring musicians who may give up too soon before seeing success before their eyes.
Or, if you are thinking of exploring music to see if it is your calling, you can always join classes such as our ‘Sing and Learn’ programme to explore your musical interests at Ritmo Music Studio.