Mason Crest Philadelphia • Miami
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Copyright © 2022 by Mason Crest, an imprint of National Highlights, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the publisher.
First printing 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ISBN (hardback) 978-1-4222-4483-8 ISBN (series) 978-1-4222-4480-7 ISBN (ebook) 978-1-4222-7330-2
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Whitaker, Chelsea, author. Title: Ed Sheeran / Chelsea Whitaker. Description: Hollywood : Mason Crest, 2022. | Series: Pop music stars | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2020000841 | ISBN 9781422244838 (hardback) | ISBN 9781422273302 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Sheeran, Ed, 1991–Juvenile literature. | Singers–England–Biography–Juvenile literature. Classification: LCC ML3930.S484 W55 2021 | DDC 782.42164092 [B]–dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020000841 Developed and Produced by National Highlights, Inc. Editor: Andrew Luke Production: Crafted Content, LLC
Contents BREAKTHROUGH ������������������������������������������������������������������ 6 CHAPTER 1: A STAR IS BORN �����������������������������������������������������11 CHAPTER 2: GREATEST MOMENTS ������������������������������������������������25 CHAPTER 3: BEHIND THE CURTAIN ���������������������������������������������37 CHAPTER 4: BRAND ED SHEERAN ������������������������������������������������ 51 CHAPTER 5: MODERN MEGASTAR ������������������������������������������������ 63 SERIES GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS ���������������������������������������������76 FURTHER READING ����������������������������������������������������������������77 INTERNET RESOURCES ������������������������������������������������������������77 INDEX �������������������������������������������������������������������������������78 AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY, PHOTO CREDITS & EDUCATIONAL VIDEO LINKS ������80
Key Icons to Look For
WORDS TO UNDERSTAND: These words, with their easy-to-understand definitions, will increase readers’ understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills.
EDUCATIONAL VIDEOS: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing themwith additional educational content to supplement the text. SIDEBARS: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives.
TEXT-DEPENDENT QUESTIONS: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there.
RESEARCH PROJECTS: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. SERIES GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series.Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field.
WORDS TO UNDERSTAND addicted —exhibiting a compulsive, chronic, physiological, or psychological need for a habit- forming substance, behavior, or activity contemporary — marked by characteristics of the present period; modern; current humble —exhibiting a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance
A-LIST FROM “THE A TEAM” Now that he was signed to Atlantic, it was time for Sheeran to choose his first major-label single. Sheeran had been releasing short albums independently for years. Although he had strong material to choose from, one song stood out. “The ATeam” was inspired by time Sheeran spent volunteering at a homeless shelter. One girl, Angel, stuck with him. She was addicted to hard drugs—known as “Class A” narcotics in the United Kingdom, thus “The ATeam.” The lyrics were dark, telling the story of a meth-addicted girl on the streets. Sheeran cleverly hid the sad story in an up-tempo, pop tune, thereby making the song both instantly catchy and poignant. Fans responded. While the ginger songwriter was still relatively unknown, his first single was a hit, debuting at Number 3 on the British charts and eventually becoming a top 10 hit in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, and the Netherlands. After this global success, Sheeran’s label brought the song to U.S. radio in late 2012 and after a slow rise up the Billboard charts, it peaked at Number 16, becoming Sheeran’s first song to chart in the U.S.
a star is born
Sheeran’s ability to plug in and play his guitar just about anywhere was crucial during his early career struggles.
“If I had stayed for the two years of school I would have been coming out at age 18 thinking, ‘now I’m going to move to London.’ Because I moved out earlier and started it earlier it gave me more of a head start.” So Sheeran left school, and instead of class, he was learning on the job and getting on stage every chance he got. In fact, in 2009 Sheeran played 312 gigs—that’s almost one gig for every day! This approach was risky, though, as he had no apartment in London and very few paying gigs. He was forced to get creative. Sheeran was proud to successfully showcase an edgy subject matter. Homelessness was an issue close to Sheeran’s heart not only from the stories he heard, but from firsthand experience with sleeping on the street. SLEEPING ON THE UNDERGROUND Sheeran’s early career was a struggle, marked by hardship that few musicians would be willing to endure. Sheeran was inspired by his artistic family, however, and knew that music was his calling. He started singing in the church choir at age four with his family’s encouragement. Sheeran’s early talent was recognized in high school where his classmates voted him “Most Likely to be Famous.” Being raised in a part of rural Suffolk called Framlinghammeant there weren’t a lot of options to find a stage or a microphone—let alone a record deal. The town only has 3,342 people. By the time Sheeran was eighteen, he knew that if he wanted to pursue a career in music, that meant leaving town. To cultivate his passion for writing songs, Sheeran enrolled in college, studying music at the Academy of Contemporary Music located in Surrey. He knew that to make a really great music career, however, he had to hone his onstage skills.
a star is born
There were many nights as he tried to make a living playing music that Sheeran found himself having to sleep underground in the London subway.
“I’d go out and play a gig, wait until 5 am when the Underground opened, sleep on the Circle Line until 12, go to a session — and then repeat,” the ginger songwriter remembers. He even slept next to the Queen—sort of. There was an arch outside Buckingham Palace that has a heating duct where he spent a couple of rough nights. When Sheeran finally scraped enough cash together for a plane ticket, he knew he had to take his shot. He had honed his skills for years playing live shows big and small in England. Now the only way to get noticed was to head across the pond.
“Before, I felt like America was this untouched gem that only Coldplay did. But then when Adele smashed the door down, and then One Direction and Mumford & Sons did it, I was like, ‘Not only is it possible now, other people are doing it.’”
PLAYING WELL WITH OTHERS
Ed Sheeran helped pop stars like Taylor Swift and One Direction pen some hits, and he is hardly alone. Most songs on the radio have multiple writers. Sometimes this includes the person singing, and sometimes not. In fact, Music Week magazine analyzed the Top 100 songs of 2016 and determined it took an average of 4.53 people to write a hit song! It might seem confusing to have so many people work on one track but there is usually one person who writes the bulk of the song, including the melody and key parts of the chorus. This person is called a “topliner.” But after that, people who contribute things such as a certain instrument line, lyrical edits, or even if they are just in the room when the songs are recorded can all get credit! Most artists limit how many people are credited because when it comes time to get paid each person is compensated for their level of contribution. Just because the creativity is spread around doesn’t make the song any less authentic though. It took nine people to write Sheeran’s hit “Galway Girl!” He collaborated with Irish folk musicians to give the song an authentic pub feel, but anyone who knows Sheeran’s trademark lyrical style can tell the song fits his repertoire perfectly.
Sheeran’s gamble paid off, landing him his record deal that lead to his major label debut. His experience playing so many shows taught him to work hard, be humble , and never take success for granted.
a star is born
PLUS UP After the success of “The ATeam,” Sheeran was ready for his major-label debut. He released + (Plus) on the Atlantic label in September 2011. The album was filled with stories about life, loss, and love. Sheeran had found his voice through heavy and heartfelt lyrics, backed with upbeat pop melodies. This subject matter set Sheeran apart from his pop star peers. Critics and fans alike appreciated this refreshing approach, and acclaim and commercial success quickly followed. Buoyed by the success of “The A Team,” the album went straight to Number 1 in the United Kingdom, selling more than 100,000 copies. The album also made the top five in the United States, Australia, and Canada and went on to sell over a million copies in the United Kingdom in just six months! “The public has heard the stereotypical love songs a million times and they’ve heard the stereotypical life-or-death songs millions of times. It’s good to mix it up a little bit.”
Sheeran is known for his heavy, heartfelt lyrics.
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