Ed Sheeran is blessed -- he seems to know exactly where he is going, and exactly how to get there. Where countless others fail to make an impression amid today's information overload, Ed's music and talent cut straight through.
He has a poise that is as welcome as it is unusual in someone so young. He's both utterly self-assured but still charmingly open. He has a confidence that's built not on being able to sing someone else's song quite nicely on a teatime TV show, but on hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of gigs where it's just him, his guitar, a loop pedal and a crowd.
Above all Ed's got this voice with buckets of soul and these incredibly affecting songs that despite being played on acoustic guitar are far removed from the standard singer-songwriter fare. In fact, Ed's songs are as informed by Jay-Z as much as they are by Damien Rice. They talk about the city he loves and the people in it and of it. They talk about the people made by it, and those damaged by it. They are about love and loss, but are also joyful when you need them to be. He is a unique talent whose combination of skills is frankly quite startling.
Ed grew up inSuffolkwhere he learnt to play an old guitar given to him by an uncle. Spurred on by a chance meeting with the aforementioned Rice when he was 11, Ed started writing songs. Aged 16, he moved to London -- into a flat above the T-Bird pub in Finsbury Park -- with only one thing on his mind: playing gigs, as many as he could and as often as he could.
"I was playing every night," he says, "sometimes three times a night. I played every open mic night going. At first the crowds weren't interested, but I learnt how to make them interested!" A thousand audiences from acoustic shows to hip-hop nights, or, indeed, any other genre, will agree with that.
One night Ed played a tiny bar inNorth Londonwhose website listed every young promoter in town. That night Ed Myspaced them all and a few days later he had nearly a hundred new gigs lined up. A pattern began to emerge -- all day in the studio, all night playing gigs. From the early days Ed would sell CDs of his songs out of his backpack, putting cash in his pocket to get to the next gig, but also planting a flag in people's minds that here was music that was worth paying for. Not satisfied by CDs alone, fans have flocked to his website to pick up everything from hoodies to jewellery.