Ed Sheeran was told he was 'too chubby and ginger' by record labels to sell music
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Like it or not, Ed Sheeran is one of the biggest musical artists in the world - and he didn't get there by accident.
But even to this day, he's hardly your typical pop star and when he was starting out, his odds of making it big seemed pretty slim.
The singer-songwriter would travel about with his guitar playing to tiny crowds, with no realistic prospects of prosperity presenting themselves.
Speaking back in 2013 - by which point he'd made his breakthrough with debut album + - Sheeran opened up about being told he was too chubby and ginger to make it in the music biz.
Reflecting on those demoralising early days, he told SBTV: "Every single label I had gone to at the time had told me this song wasn't a hit, this song wouldn't work and the fact that I was slightly chubby and ginger wasn’t a good marketing tool for them.
"So yeah, it did definitely feel like it wasn't going to happen.
"The way I maintained self-belief is that I knew I wasn't good at anything else so what else was I going to do and secondly with the whole look and songs that the labels rejected I knew it was really important you stay true to yourself. Being an individual makes you stand out from the crowd."
This self-belief was plain to see in his second single 'You Need Me, I Don't Need You'; and he was right, going on to become one of the biggest selling artists in the world.
The 32-year-old will soon be releasing new album -, following on from +, x, ÷ and =.
In an Instagram post announcing the upcoming album, Sheeran revealed he 'spiralled through fear, depression and anxiety' last year after his wife was diagnosed with a tumour and his close friend Jamal Edwards died.
He said that Cherry Seaborn - who he married in 2019 - was told by doctors she had a tumour while pregnant with their second child, while music entrepreneur Edwards - who founded the music platform SBTV in 2006 that helped launch Sheeran's career - died in February at the age of 31.
Later in April, Sheeran won a high court battle after two songwriters claimed his 2017 hit 'Shape Of You' infringed copyright of their song 'Oh Why' - a case that had huge mental strain on the singer.
The new album is due to be released on 5 May.
Topics: Music, Ed Sheeran