Now & Zen Fest 2012: Ed Sheeran
Masterfully blending soulful vocals with organic folk introspection and irresistible hip-hop hooks, Sheeran is a genuine phenomenon. Inspired by such diverse artists as James Morrison, Damien Rice, and Jay-Z, the gifted tunesmith first made waves with his unique style and affecting songs. A prolific writer and performer, Sheeran played constantly – including over 300 gigs in 2009 alone – while also recording and self-releasing five independent EPs. He also became a YouTube favorite, with the loop-driven “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You,” drawing over 5 million views and counting.
His major label debut single, “The A Team,” arrived in June 2011 and instantly proved an unqualified sensation, entering among the top 3 on the U.K. Singles Chart. The track spent 11 consecutive weeks in the U.K. Top 10, making history as 2011’s highest charting, biggest selling debut single.
Sheeran’s full-length debut, “+,” soon followed, featuring a host of truly special songs, from the heart-wrenching “Small Bump” to the hushed “Give Me Love.” The album exploded onto the U.K. Albums Chart at #1 with the highest opening sales figures for a debut male solo artist ever and is now certified 4x platinum.
In addition to their popular success, Sheeran and “+” received extensive acclaim, including the prestigious “Breakthrough Artist” trophy at the Q Awards 2011. Even greater accolades came in early 2012 as Sheeran emerged victorious with a pair of top 2011 Brit Awards – including “Best Male Artist” and “Best Breakthrough Artist” – after having led the field with a remarkable four total nods. Furthermore, “The A Team” received the high honor of a 2012 Ivor Novello Award nomination in the “Best Song Musically and Lyrically” category.
Released in December 2011, Sheeran’s U.S. debut EP, “THE A TEAM,” features four extraordinary tracks previously unavailable here in the former Colonies, including, of course, “The A Team.” A special iTunes version of the EP – available exclusively on the iTunes Store – is augmented by an additional track, “Grade 8 (Live At The iTunes Festival London).”
As energetic and engaging on stage as he is on record, Sheeran spent much of last year doing what he does best – playing sold out shows all over the U.K., including acclaimed festival appearances at such annual extravaganzas as Glastonbury, Lovebox, Bestival, Latitude, and Reading & Leeds Festivals. A further series of U.K. and European festivals are scheduled for the summer, as is a fully sold out tour of Australia and New Zealand. Sheeran’s biggest U.K. tour thus far will follow in the fall, featuring sold out multiple night stands in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Doncaster, Newcastle, and Glasgow.
As if all that weren’t enough, Sheeran kickstarted 2012 with “THE SLUMDON BRIDGE EP,” a four-song collaboration with Shady Records/Get-O-Vision Entertainment/ Interscope Records recording artist Yelawolf. Initially released as a free Valentine’s Day download, the acclaimed EP is available now via all digital retailers. “It’s a unique project from start to finish,” declared AllHipHop.com of the EP. “Yelawolf and Ed Sheeran are…the most unlikeliest of teams, but it works. Here’s hoping that we see more of them together in the future.”
“Any true music lover would thoroughly enjoy the supernatural chemistry that oozes from this opus,” noted PlanetIll.com, adding that “if you never heard of Ed Sheeran, you’ll definitely become a fan after listening to this joint…It’s only a matter of time till he catches the ear of a hip-hop heavyweight.”