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Ed Sheeran by Sean Smith

Ed Sheeran is the highest grossing solo star internationally, with an estimated annual income of $83 million. He’s friends with Taylor Smith, Elton John, and a host of other luminaries, and he’s even flown standing up on the wing of on one of Peter Jackson’s vintage planes.

On the surface Ed Sheeran has remained the fresh-faced, if slightly goofy, boy next door; and Sean Smith’s intimate and well-researched biography reveals that what you see is what you get with this humble superstar. Sheeran’s remained grounded, and - more importantly - he’s left the ladder down for those who helped him reach the top.

Ed Sheeran has been known to perform spontaneous street concerts to fans that missed out on tickets. And earlier this year, while in the middle of a gruelling tour, Sheeran took time out to raise money for a charity for the homeless. The book reveals that it is a cause he has always supported through song since he first wrote the song A-Class while still in his teens.

Sean Smith’s in-depth look at Sheeran’s rise to stardom shows how his close relationships with his extended middle-class family paved the way for his place to the top, and have kept him grounded while there. The book reveals the star’s trajectory is based on a blistering schedule and strong work ethic underscored by this strong family foundation.

His parents John and Imogen Sheeran were art collectors and curators, and their creative household provided a spring board for the talents of their two sons. They fostered a desire for their sons to receive a good education to fall back on while providing the tools for each of them to achieve greatness in their chosen fields.

Ed’s older brother Matthew chose the classical path and is now a respected musician and composer who recently worked with his younger sibling, providing the string component on the Andrea Bocelli collaboration Perfect Symphony.

Ed was drawn to contemporary music, and his talents were always nurtured by his parents. With their help, the younger Sheeran trained for five years in the family home with a classical guitar tutor. Ed was also influenced by his father’s taste in music which gave him the opportunity to listen to The Beatles, Van Morrison and Elton John while travelling together on frequent road trips to London.

With his father, Ed also attended many contemporary gigs where he proved to be an astute observer. He took in the tools, the stage craft and the artist’s interaction with the audience.

With the blessing of his parents Ed was creating CDs for sale in his rustic bedroom studio, at age 13 and at 15 he was learning to use the loop system that would later become his signature. Ed also attended singing lessons, acted, and undertook an on-the-road summer internship with a band, all the while completing his A-levels.

Sheeran has worked hard on developing his natural talent. A keen observer, he switched on early to emerging trends and developed a remarkable knack for self-promotion through social media which first brought him to mainstream attention.

Ed Sheeran may make it look easy but the reality revealed by this book is that he has always been guided by the maxim ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get’.

Persistence and hard work learning his craft and developing his talents have seen a shy and stuttering boy emerge as a quietly confident – yet remarkably grounded - superstar.

Reviewer: Peta Stavelli

Harper Collins $35


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