The Untold Story of Ed Sheeran's Road to Hollywood


| LAST UPDATE 03/26/2023

By Abby Wall

Sheeran is releasing a very personal documentary, The Sum of It All, where he's taking audiences on a journey starting from the early days of his career. So, let's take a closer look at the superstar's career.

Ed Sheeran

Born in West Yorkshire and raised in Framlingham, Suffolk, Ed Sheeran has become one of the most influential voices of our generation over the past decade and beyond. But he sure didn't have an easy start.

Ed Sheeran Hollywood successEd Sheeran Hollywood success
Instagram via @teddysphotos

He may hold the title of one of the world's best-selling music artists, but there was a point in his career when he was sleeping outside of Buckingham palace. From a young age, Sheeran had a passion for music, songwriting, and the guitar, and once his talent was finally recognized, he became an internationally loved superstar.

Troubled Youth

Growing up, Sheeran had it rough. He was born with a port-wine stain birthmark on his face, and as a young kid, he underwent surgery that contributed to a stutter that followed shortly after. Unfortunately, this led to his difficulties socializing in school.

Ed Sheeran childhood storyEd Sheeran childhood story
YouTube via BBC Music

Sheeran was made fun of every day at school for his oversized thick glasses and ginger-colored hair, which would eventually be one of his major selling points one day! He was also severely bullied in school for his speech impediment. But it was music that would get him through these tough times…

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Music Was His Outlet

With having such a difficult time in school, Sheeran needed an outlet. He joined the local church choir at only four years old and instantly fell in love with the practice. Growing up with a speech impediment was tough for the young boy, but it was other musicians that inspired him to move past it.

Ed Sheeran musician childhoodEd Sheeran musician childhood
YouTube via BBC Music

He wasn't even ten years old, and his father brought home one of Eminem's records for him, and he was instantly mesmerized by how fast the singer was rapping. So he learned every single lyric and, by doing so, began writing more of his own music, and eventually, his stutter started to disappear.

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Pursuing His Dreams

By age 11, he picked up the guitar, learned to play, and started writing his original music. He was dedicated to making music and knew it was ultimately what he wanted to pursue. So the young Ed Sheeran began performing in different venues around town.

Sheeran London Spinning ManSheeran London Spinning Man
YouTube via BBC Music

Just two years later, the dedicated young musician independently released his first piece of work, Spinning Man. However, he knew the only way to make it big one day was to leave his hometown and move to the big city - London. But he soon realized things weren't going to be so easy...

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Moving to London

So in 2008, Sheeran packed up his bags and guitar and moved to London! He knew the only way to make it big in the industry was to be a part of the buzzing music scene in the big city. So, he did anything he could to succeed, and began playing at any venue that would accept him.

Ed Sheeran music concert Ed Sheeran music concert
YouTube via BBC Music

He played at all sorts of small venues, auditioned for the ITV series Britannia High, and eventually enrolled in the Academy of Contemporary Music. Sheeran even played more than 300 shows in 2009 alone. He was doing anything he could to get his name out there; he was committed.

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However, being a young performer was not easy for Sheeran. In his book, A Visual Journey, the artist revealed that he had actually been homeless for a period of his life when he was a struggling musician in London. "There was an arch outside Buckingham palace that has a heating duct, and I spent a couple of nights there," he wrote.

Ed Sheeran troubled childhood Ed Sheeran troubled childhood
Instagram via @teddysphotos

"I knew where I could get a bed at a certain time of night, and I knew who I could call at any time to get a floor to sleep on. Being sociable helped. Drinking helped," he revealed. He shared he even "spent a week catching up on sleep on Circle Line trains," but "it wasn't that bad," and it's just what he had to do.

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Taking His Talents Online

With all the challenges that came his way, Sheeran was working even harder to make his dreams come true. Before social media was at its peak, Sheeran had leveraged the platform in order to get his name and face out there. So, in 2010, he began uploading some of his content to YouTube.

Ed Sheeran Jamal EdwardsEd Sheeran Jamal Edwards
YouTube via SBTV: Music

And because he was one of the first to use social media as a platform to get recognized, he did. The musician posted a video through SB.TV, a channel started by British entrepreneur Jamal Edwards, whom he would later become great friends with. And just like that, the doors started opening for him.

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Finally Getting Noticed

After publishing his work on social media, Sheeran started to get noticed and even gained a small following. People loved what they were hearing - and they wanted more where that came from! It was then that rapper Example found him and decided to introduce him to wider audience...

Ed Sheeran Example rapperEd Sheeran Example rapper
 Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan via Getty Images

So, he contacted the young musician and asked him to join him on tour. Talk about a life-changing experience! From there, his online presence began to explode, and the entire world was watching his YouTube videos. That same month, he released the EP Loose Change, featuring his hit song, The A Team.

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Foxx Stamp of Approval

With the success of The A Team and his Loose Change EP, Sheeran was invited to play live at the Station Sessions in St. Pancras International the same year. He ended up releasing two more EPs, Ed Sheeran: Live at the Bedford and Songs I Wrote with Amy.

Ed Sheeran Jamie FoxxEd Sheeran Jamie Foxx
Michael Kovac/WireImage via Getty Images

And then he went to Los Angeles, where dreams are really made. It was in the City of Angels that he was invited to perform on The Foxxhole, a local radio station hosted by the one and only Jamie Foxx, who was so impressed by the young performer that he ended up using Foxx's studio and even staying on his couch for some time.

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Debut Studio Album

Things were looking up for the kid from West Yorkshire. He had put everything into his career, and finally, all his hard work was paying off: he signed a record deal with Asylum Records! After he was signed, his debut single, The A Team, began to see success like never before, and a studio album was on the horizon.

Ed Sheeran debut albumEd Sheeran debut album
Alexis Maryon/Pymca via Shutterstock

After years of bullying, struggling to get noticed, sleeping on the Circle Line, and being known as the "weird kid," Ed Sheeran was dropping his first studio album. + (Plus) was released in September 2011, and instantly the album received incredible commercial and critic reviews, debuting at number one on the UK Albums Chart.

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Meeting Taylor Swift

This album was Sheeran's commercial breakthrough moment, with songs such as Give Me Love, Lego House, and The A Team all taking over the radio stations! So naturally, fellow musicians would start reaching out to Sheeran, one of the first being Taylor Swift.

Ed Sheeran Taylor SwiftEd Sheeran Taylor Swift
Instagram via @teddysphotos

In March 2012, Swift contacted Sheeran, and their personal and professional relationship immediately blossomed. He co-wrote and sang with Swift on the song Everything Has Changed, and was invited to open for Swift's Red tour in 2013. He even got a scarlet RED tattoo to honor the moment.

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Sold Out Shows

He was writing and performing with the biggest names in music, from Taylor Swift to One Direction, while his album was climbing up the Billboard charts. The A Team was even nominated for Song of the Year at the 2013 Grammy Awards. Audiences were obsessed with Ed Sheeran; he even sold out three nights headlining at Madison Square Garden.

Ed Sheeran Grammy AwardsEd Sheeran Grammy Awards
 Anna Webber via Getty Images for Atlantic Records

Sheeran was on fire, and in June 2014, he released his second studio album x (Multiply), which ended up becoming the second best-selling album worldwide in 2015 behind Adele's 25. With hit songs like Photograph and Thinking Out Loud, Sheeran was set for his first world tour.

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On Top of the World

After years of hard work, Sheeran reached the top. Being one of the most influential artists in the industry, Sheeran incorporated his authentic style and sound into the pop world. Music journalist Alexis Petridis said Ed Sheeran "brought pop back down to earth."

Ed Sheeran music awardsEd Sheeran music awards
 David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage via Getty Images

The A Team singer became known as one of the best songwriters in the industry, even taking home the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year and two Grammy Awards in 2016. He even penned Justin Bieber's hit song, Love Yourself. Who doesn't love that song?

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Insert Cherry Seaborn

Around that same time, the Grammy award-winner had met his future wife, Cherry Seaborn. Since entering the public eye, Sheeran was always known to keep his personal life pretty personal. However, he was spotted hand in hand with Seaborn in 2015, and only two years later, he shared more.

Ed Sheeran Cherry SeabornEd Sheeran Cherry Seaborn
Beretta/Sims via Shutterstock

The pair had actually met at Thomas Mills High School in Suffolk, England, and only reconnected years later. "One of our best friends worked on my tour, so when we came to New York, where she was living at the time, we hung out and reconnected through our mutual friend. She's great," he said.

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Social Media Break

Now at the peak of success and with a new beau on his arm, Sheeran felt he needed to take a step back from the limelight. The Photograph singer decided to take a break from his phone and all social media for a while and let his followers know he was going offline.

Ed Sheeran Mental HealthEd Sheeran Mental Health
Instagram via @teddysphotos

"I find myself seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes," he wrote. "So I'm taking this opportunity of me not having to be anywhere or do anything to travel the world and see everything I missed." He signed off, letting his fans know he would be back next autumn with a new album.

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After taking his year-long break from all social media platforms, the musician broke the Internet with news of his upcoming album. Each album is named after a mathematical symbol. Divide was then released in March 2017, and the album instantly debuted at number one in the US, UK, and other places worldwide.

Ed Sheeran Divide tourEd Sheeran Divide tour
 Brill/ullstein bild via Getty Images

The album led to Sheeran's world tour, which became the highest-grossing tour of all time. He was even labeled Spotify's most-streamed artist of the year, with 6.3 billion streams. Divide was home to some of Sheeran's most famous songs to date, including Castle on the Hill and Shape of You, which led to some legal issues.

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Copyright Allegations

The musician might have had a few Grammys under his belt, but he also faced an impending trial. Although it took years for the case to hit the courtroom, Sheeran was sued by Sami Switch, a grime artist, claiming the "Oh I" hook in Sheeran's song Shape of You was "strongly similar" to an "Oh why" phrase in his own song.

Ed Sheeran Copyright CaseEd Sheeran Copyright Case
Instagram via @teddysphotos

Although the court deemed Sheeran to have not plagiarised Sami's work, the allegations caused "immense" stress for the singer. Following the ruling, he said such "baseless" claims "are way too common." He added, "It's really damaging to the songwriting industry. There's only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music."

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However, by the time his third studio album arrived, ÷ (Divide), Sheeran, and his new beau, Seaborn, were standing strong! Although he kept things pretty low-key, it was on Divide that he released the song, Perfect, which was "inspired by Cherry." He told Us Weekly he "just emailed" her the song at the time because she was living in NYC at the time.

Perfect Sheeran Cherry SeabornPerfect Sheeran Cherry Seaborn
JMEnternational via Getty Images

However, she "did really like it." Duh! "The line that goes, 'Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song' was about when we were in Ibiza listening to Future's March Madness, literally not wearing any shoes and going mental on the lawn, which was quite a nice time." Sounds like it, Ed.

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Popping the Question

After publishing the perfect love song for Cherry, there was only one thing left to do! Get down on one knee of course. "Got myself a fiancé just before new year," he wrote on Instagram alongside an adorable pic. "We are very happy and in love, and our cats are chuffed as well xx."

Ed Sheeran Seaborn engagedEd Sheeran Seaborn engaged
Instagram via @teddysphotos

And just one month after news of their engagement hit the town, there were rumors that the couple had actually secretly tied the knot. Sheeran was spotted solo at the 2018 Brit Awards, walking the red carpet with a band on his left ring finger, but nothing was confirmed (or denied).

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Tying the Knot

And as it turned out, the couple had secretly married almost a year after Sheeran popped the question in a private ceremony at the musician's estate in Suffolk, U.K. A source told The Sun, "He wanted no fuss, and he wanted it to be something entirely for them – just a tiny winter wedding."

Ed Sheeran Seaborn marriedEd Sheeran Seaborn married
YouTube via Disney Plus

Sheeran later confirmed they tied the knot when he called Seaborn his "wife" in the song Remember the Name. "[I actually wrote it] before me and Cherry got married, and I knew that we'd be married by the point that the song came out," he told Charlamagne Tha God in 2019.

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Becoming a Dad

Just a few months after saying their "I do's," in August 2020, Us confirmed that Cherry was pregnant with her and Sheeran's first baby! "Ed will make a great dad. He loves kids, and he built his big home in Suffolk, [England], with the plan to start a family," a source told the publication. And we can totally see it!

Ed Sheeran Seaborn babyEd Sheeran Seaborn baby
Instagram via @teddysphotos

And that same month, the couple welcomed their "beautiful and healthy daughter," Lyra Antarctica Seaborn Sheeran. "We are completely in love with her," Sheeran happily wrote on Instagram. "Both mum and baby are doing amazing, and we are on cloud nine over here."

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More and More Music

The little redhead kid with glasses was now on top of the world! He was married to the love of his life, a new dad, and was being recognized for his unbelievable talents by the entire world! Not to mention, he was songwriting for many musicians and collaborating on some of the hottest tracks!

Ed Sheeran artists collaborations Ed Sheeran artists collaborations
YouTube via Ed Sheeran

He collaborated with artists from Bieber to Taylor Swift, Travis Scott, J Balvin, Chris Stapleton, Chance the Rapper, and many more. No wonder he's worth $200 million per Celebrity Net Worth! And then his fourth studio album, = (Equals) was born, an album that really dug into the artist's hard times and triumphs.

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Thank You, Cherry

The musician took home the Songwriter of the Year award at the BRITs, thanking his wife for everything. "My wife Cherry, who, at the drop of a hat, will come to the middle of nowhere to a really secluded studio and live in-house and is so supportive while we just make songs and songs and songs," he said. "So thank you so much. You're the best."

Ed Sheeran Seaborn babyEd Sheeran Seaborn baby
Instagram via @teddysphotos

And then, just a few months later, in May 2022, Sheeran revealed the couple had very securely welcomed their second child into the world! "We are both so in love with her and over the moon to be a family of 4," he gushed on Instagram. Welcome, baby, Jupiter!

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Tragedy Strikes

Right before the birth of his daughter, Sheeran's close friend Jamal Edwards passed away from a heart attack. Edwards was responsible for jump-starting Sheeran's career back in 2010 after getting him to perform You Need Me, I Don't Need You on his YouTube channel, the video that his manager and record label first discovered him from.

Jamal Edwards Ed SheeranJamal Edwards Ed Sheeran
Instagram via @teddysphotos

"I really don't think I would have been allowed through certain doors if it hadn't been for Jamal," he said. "He was just all about finding people and showing people new opportunities." Not only had Jamal found the future superstar, but they had developed a close bond as friends that will forever remain close to Sheeran.

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"Especially as a father, I feel really embarrassed about it," the musician said. He told the publication he worried his thoughts were "selfish." However, the tragedy helped Sheeran kick a drug habit he had developed in his 20s." I would never, ever, ever touch anything again because that's how Jamal died," he said.

Ed Sheeran Jamal drowningEd Sheeran Jamal drowning
YouTube via Disney Plus

Following Jamal's death, Sheeran opened up to Rolling Stone magazine, explaining he had health with depression "throughout my life," and the feelings resurfaced after his friend had died. "You're under the waves drowning. You're just sort of in this thing. And you can't get out of it," he candidly shared.

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The Sum Of It All

And now, for the first time ever, Sheeran has decided to give audiences worldwide more of a glimpse into his personal life. The Shivers crooner has always been known to keep his private life pretty private, but in his Disney+ documentary, he's letting it all go.

Ed Sheeran Sum AllEd Sheeran Sum All
YouTube via Disney Plus

The documentary Ed Sheeran: The Sum of It All covers the artist's career, rise to fame, music inspirations, personal struggles, and relationships. In a recent documentary trailer, fans see the singer open up about the death of his best friend and other very personal hardships.

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Devastating News

In the trailer, Ed is seen crying on stage as he deals with the death of his best friend and other devastating news. It was revealed his wife had been diagnosed with a tumor while pregnant, with "no route to treatment until after the birth," all while facing a copyright trial. She carried the baby to term and had a successful surgery.

Ed Sheeran wife tumorEd Sheeran wife tumor
YouTube via Disney Plus

The impact of those events "changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music," Sheeran said in a handwritten note on Instagram. "I've never seen him cry on stage," his wife says in the clip. "He hasn't had the time to process and be at peace with his thoughts."

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The Outcome

As a result of all the heartbreak, hardships, and triumphs Sheeran has faced the past year, he decided to scrap the "hundreds" of songs he originally wrote for his upcoming album, Subtract, now penned against "a backdrop of grief and hope." Sharing, "it's opening the trapdoor into my soul."

Ed Sheeran journey musicianEd Sheeran journey musician
YouTube via Disney Plus

"I wrote without thought of what the songs would be; I just wrote whatever tumbled out. And in just over a week, I replaced a decade's worth of work with my deepest, darkest thoughts," he shared. "I'm merely putting something out that's honest and true to where I am in my adult life." The album is due for release in May.

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Loving Fans

As a result of the upcoming documentary, fans have expressed their appreciation for the artist being so open about his mental health struggles. "As much as possible, I don't wanna see him crying. But thank you so much for being the strongest and bravest human being in this cruel world," one person tweeted, adding, "we love you so much."

Ed Sheeran Sum AllEd Sheeran Sum All
John Angelillo/UPI via Shutterstock

While another fan wrote, "I'm already emotional - I hope Cherry is okay now. I can't wait to watch this and follow just part of Ed's journey; I'm sure it'll be perfect." Someone else tweeted, "Thank you for giving us this masterpiece and sharing your life with us, teddy. Can't wait!"

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'Be Yourself'

The artist himself once said he was a "very, very, very, weird child," but it was all of his childhood experiences as an "outsider" that led him to where he is today. During one of his most inspiring speeches, Sheeran reminded people to "be yourself" and "embrace your quirks."

Ed Sheeran documentary storyEd Sheeran documentary story
Instagram via @teddysphotos

He continues, "Being weird is a wonderful thing. Don't ever treat it as an issue, and don't see it as a plight on your life. Carry on pushing forward and … I did all right, you can do all right as well." He added, "just be yourself because there's no one in the world that can be a better you than you." And that is just the truth!

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