Ed Sheeran – the hitmaker from Halifax

Introduction: Ed Sheeran was born in Halifax
Introduction: Ed Sheeran was born in Halifax

If there is one thing that drives me mad about my 17-year-old son, Max it’s being in the car with him.

It’s not so much the running around that grates on me, it’s his annoying habit of switching off radio 2 or my relaxing CD, and playing his dreadful rapper, DJ or RnB music and being forced to listen to the likes of N-Dubz, Rizzle Kicks, Cruz and Ludacris and Kanye West (whoever they might be).

But a strange thing happened this week. Max introduced to me to the latest singing sensation, Ed Sheeran, who just happens to have been born in Halifax. Even more weird is that despite the age gap, we both love his music.

The 20-year-old singer/songwriter who plays a mix of folk rock, acoustic, hip hop and grime (whatever that might be) broke through commercially in June this year with his debut single, The A Team, which reached No 3 in the charts.

According to music experts it’s the highest-selling and highest-charting debut single of the year (it sold over 58,000 copies in the first week) and Ed is the strongest pop phenomenon of the moment and has been compared to Justin Bieber.

He’s the most unlikely pop star you could imagine. He’s got freckles, ginger hair, poor eyesight and not perfect hearing in one ear, but his soft toned flexible voice with a hip-hop inflected flow, is driving young girls wild. I’d wager that there are plenty of older women like me who enjoy his music too.

So what exactly do we know about Ed? Well for starters he was born in Halifax but left town at a young age to live in Framlingham, Suffolk. He sang in a church choir with his mum from the age of four and learned guitar early and wrote his first songs while at school.

He moved to London as a 16-year-old and spent time touring America with just his guitar for company. He is credited with being a kind of 21st century social media whizz kid because he used the internet to get his name known.

He has hundreds of thousands of friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter and The A Team has had more than 10 million views on YouTube. It’s about a homeless girl on the streets of London resorting to prostitution and class A drugs. The video, which is amazing, only cost £20 to make.

His songs are old-fashioned and stick out like a thumb from the rest of the stuff in the charts but that’s not surprising when you hear he grew up listening to the same music I did - Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles and Elton John.

Elton is one of his biggest fans along with England football captain, Rio Ferdinand. Fellow journalists who have interviewed him speak about him being charming, as solid as a rock and having lots of humility. He puts that down to being well brought up and coming from a great Northern town like Halifax.

As far as I am concerned he is a breath of fresh air, and unlike a lot of today’s rappers and pop stars, a great inspiration to the young. He drinks peach fruit and barley water after a gig, and on stage plays with no band or beats. His new single, You Need Me, is out this week and his debut album is released on September 12.

He’s touring at the moment (he’s in Leeds on October 13 and Manchester on the 17th) and I would love to see him (Max with his mum at a pop concert ???) but tickets are like gold dust. So I’m appealing to his good nature and intend to send him a message on Twitter suggesting he returns to his home town for a concert. He did a free show at a pub in Camden that holds 200 a while ago and thousands turned up so he did three shows instead in the car park.

I hope the whole of Calderdale gets behind me and Twitters him. I wonder if he has ever been back to Halifax since he left? or appreciates how proud we all are of him. I’ve now got his music on my computer, phone and iPod and intend to buy his album to play in my car. And I’ve promised Max I’ll never moan about his music in the car again!