When Ed Sheeran met Taylor Swift

Superstar singer Taylor Swift’s habit of writing other pop stars’ lyrics on her arm has led to a lasting friendship with fellow megastar Ed Sheeran.

American singer Swift, 31, has become close friends with Halifax-born Sheeran, 30, as a result of her somewhat quirky behaviour. In a public display of allegiance, Swift has described how they “have each other’s backs” and Sheeran says he believes she will “always be there” for him.

Initially, their friendship raised a few eyebrows, with rumours circulating that they were once dating. However, they have denied ever being romantically involved – Sheeran has been married to childhood friend and former classmate, Cherry Seaborn, since 2019. In September 2020, they celebrated the birth of their daughter, Lyra.

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Swift’s career

Taylor Swift is one of the most successful female singers of the 21st century, with an estimated net worth of $365 million. Born in West Reading, Pennsylvania, she became interested in musical theatre at the age of nine. At 12, she learned to play guitar and began writing songs.

In 2003, at the age of 14, one of her original songs was used on a compilation CD released by cosmetics giant Maybelline. Her career was launched after attending meetings with major record labels and performing her original songs at an RCA Records’ showcase.

After being awarded an artist development deal, Swift had to combine her touring schedule as a new artist with her secondary education. In 2005, she signed for independent record label, Big Machine Records, where she worked on her debut album, Taylor Swift. Following its release on 24th October 2006, the album shot to number five on the US Billboard 200 chart. Since her debut, Swift has become a global superstar, having released nine studio albums, 14 compilation albums, five EPs and 56 singles.

Selling more than 150 million singles worldwide, she has achieved seven number one hits and 29 top-ten singles in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Despite her massive status as an artist, Swift still managed to maintain a “girl next door” persona that makes fans love her more.

Sheeran’s success

Ed Sheeran was born in February 1991 and began singing in the local church choir at the age of four. At eleven, he learned to play the guitar and began writing songs while still at school. As a teenager, he joined the National Youth Theatre in London.

In 2004, aged 13, Sheeran began recording his own songs, independently releasing his first EP collection, entitled Spinning Man. In 2008, he moved to London and began playing live gigs at relatively small venues. Earning a living as a guitar technician for the alternative folk duo, Nizlopi, he opened for them in April 2008.

In 2009, he went to study music at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, but dropped out to release his second EP, You Need Me. After marketing his own video, Sheeran was invited to tour with the rapper, Example, in February 2010. He also released his third EP, Loose Change, to great critical acclaim. It featured his future debut single, The A Team, which he later released in June 2011 as a digital download. After signing to Asylum Records the same year, his career took off in leaps and bounds. To date, he has released five studio albums and 43 singles, selling more than 150 million records worldwide. In December 2019, the Official Charts Company awarded Sheeran the Artist of the Decade. His album, Multiply, won Brit Award 2015 Album of the Year.

Accumulating a net worth of around $200 million, he has also won the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year; single, Thinking Out Loud, won the 2016 Grammy Awards for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year; his 2017 single, Perfect, reached number one in Australia, the US and the UK; and he was named the best-selling artist in the world in 2017.

Unusual meeting

When Ed Sheeran met Taylor Swift, it came about in a most unusual way. In 2011, Swift was already an established recording and live artist, while Sheeran was just starting out on the road to superstardom.

On 21st May 2011, Swift was beginning her Speak Now tour with a charity fundraising gig in Nashville, Tennessee. She began writing what her fans’ site, The Swift Agency, called “Arm Lyrics” at each gig, in honour of other artists whom she admired.

On the first night, she wrote the inspirational lyrics, “You’ve got every right to a beautiful life,” on her arm, from the hit song, Who Says, by Selena Gomez.

The practice continued at every gig throughout the tour – Swift wrote lyrics on her arm by some of the biggest stars of the 20th and 21st century, such as, “One life, you’ve got to do what you should,” from U2’s One and the quote, “If you wanna be somebody else, change your mind,” from Sister Hazel’s Change Your Mind.

Swift was playing at the Allphones Arena, in Sydney, Australia, on 10th March 2012, when she appeared with the words, “If things go right, we can frame it and put you on a wall,” written up her arm, from Ed Sheeran’s Lego House.

On hearing about this, Sheeran decided he wanted to meet Swift, so he arranged to first meet her manager in Nashville. The two singers then met in person for the first time. Swift said she had first heard Sheeran’s music while touring Australia and liked what she heard.

Afterwards, Sheeran admitted to feeling “nervous”, as he was worried Swift might act like the big star that she was. However, she was down to earth, with no airs and graces. He was happy to find she was a great person who wasn’t at all affected by her super-stardom.

Growing friendship

After their first meeting, the pair became good friends over time. Swift said they made each other “arts and crafts” Christmas gifts. They even took family holidays together. In an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, she said they “had each other’s backs”. Sheeran said Swift was a “true friend” who would be there for him, even if everything ended.

In 2017, Sheeran defended his friend in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, as he was angry at the way the media was “ganging up on” and “insulting” her. Describing her as “the most famous woman in the world”, he said it wasn’t her fault she was always in the press.

At the time, rather than getting involved in social media gossip and petty feuds, Sheeran said, “I have been speaking directly to her – like I always do.”

Professional bond

As well as being friends for life, Sheeran and Swift recorded a song together, Everything Has Changed. Sheeran had co-written and provided vocals for the single, which featured on Red, her fourth studio album. Released on 16th July 2013, the guitar ballad combined folk and pop. It won numerous accolades, including an award from the 2014 BMI London Awards and the 2014 Radio Disney Music Awards’ Best Musical Collaboration. It made the top ten in the singles charts in the UK, Belgium and Ireland and in the US Adult Top 40 Billboard chart.

Between March and September 2013, Sheeran was the opening act at stadiums and arenas across North America for Swift’s The Red Tour. His biggest tour to date, he had a scarlet “RED” tattoo to celebrate.

In 2017, Sheeran also collaborated on End Game, a track on Swift’s sixth studio album, Reputation. Also featuring the rapper, Future, End Game was released on 10th November and charted all over the world, peaking at number ten in the US Mainstream Top 40 Billboard singles chart.

Recent media reports have suggested Sheeran and Swift are recording a new duet together for her re-released album, Red. They are currently in the studio to record a new song, called Run. The album was released on 12th November.

The lifelong friendship and professional collaboration between Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift is testament to the fact a successful meeting can create important relationships that can change your life.

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