It’s Ed Sheeran’s 27th birthday this weekend (February 17) and to celebrate, we’re looking back at some of his biggest career moments. From his debut single “The A Team,” to being nominated for multiple Grammy Awards, and even performing for The Queen’s Jubilee, here are 10 moments that have defined the Suffolk-raised, singer-songwriter’s career.
Having previously released multiple EPs, the increasing hype from his debut single “The A Team” meant Sheeran’s debut studio album Plus would go mainstream. The song was inspired by Sheeran’s visit to a homeless shelter where he heard a personal story from one of its residents. Plus debuted straight at the top of the U.K. Albums Chart and still stands in its top 10 best-selling albums of the decade. The song also landed Sheeran his first Grammy nomination.
After releasing such an impressive debut album, Sheeran received a number of performance invitations, including singing on Later… with Jools Holland and a headlining slot at Glastonbury’s BBC Introducing Stage. But most notably, Sheeran was asked to play at the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Singing to royals and patriotic fans alike, plus millions watching around the world at home, Sheeran’s performance became a milestone in his career highlighting just how far the singer-songwriter had come only two years after being discovered by Jamie Foxx.
Taylor Swift first contacted Sheeran after hearing his music while on tour in Australia, and the pair have been best buds ever since. The pair has worked together on multiple projects since Sheeran joined Swift on her U.K. arena tour back in 2013. Most notably, Sheeran co-wrote and even provided vocals for the soulful ballad “Everything Has Changed” while assisting Swift with the production of her fourth studio album Red.
Producing a song for a big blockbuster film is a major feat for any artist. The Hobbit’s director, Peter Jackson, asked Sheeran to produce the title track for the second instalment of the three-part series, entitled The Desolation of Smaug. Sheeran was honoured to be asked, as he has always been a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novels.
Sheeran’s second studio album came as an instant global success. While his first album had more of a slow burn effect, Multiply hit the number one spot in 15 different countries, with its lead single “Sing” securing Sheeran’s first No. 1 song on U.K. charts. Multiply was also Spotify’s most-streamed album of 2014 and remains the third best-selling album of the decade in the U.K. The album also picked up double Grammy nominations and a Brit Award win for Best British Album of the Year.
Back in January 2015, our beloved U.K. crooner signed off on social media. But the well-deserved hiatus made sense, coming after the release of Multiply and its subsequent worldwide tour; Sheeran deserved a break! Besides travelling and getting in some much-needed R&R, Sheeran used the year to work on his third studio album Divide, releasing a sneak peak of it almost exactly a year after his hiatus.
Sheeran has received five Grammy nominations in the past—not including his contributions to Swift’s Red—but it was his third single from Multiply, “Thinking Out Loud,” that finally gave Sheeran his first wins. The track won both Song of the Year and Best Solo Pop Performance at the 2016 Grammy Awards.
— Recording Academy (@RecordingAcad) February 15, 2016
Getting the opportunity to perform with Beyoncé is a big career moment for any artist. Not only singing along with Queen B herself, but also being able to hold his own next to her superstar presence is a testament to Sheeran’s talent. Since then, Beyoncé collaborated with Sheeran on the emotional ballad “Perfect,” the fourth single off Divide, and if Beyoncé takes the time to make a cameo in one of your songs, you know you’ve made it.
True to his word, Sheeran returned to social media in 2017 with his most recent album Divide. His social media break had fans anxiously awaiting for new music and his return resulted in a frenzy; the album’s first single “Shape of You” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. With 672,000 copies sold in the first week, Divide was the fastest selling album by a male solo artist in the U.K., third-fastest behind Oasis’ Be Here Now and Adele’s 25.
Eminem and Ed Sheeran first released their collaboration on “River,” the second single from Eminem’s Revival, back in December 2017. The duo released the dramatic music video for the track earlier this week, bringing a visual element of domestic violence to the song’s already dark lyrics. Sheeran calls the collab a career milestone for himself, having often cited Eminem as one of his biggest musical influences.