Ed Sheeran's parents have always encouraged him to be creative
The "Bad Habits" singer was raised in Suffolk, England, by his father, John, a curator and exhibition organizer, and his mother, Imogen, a jewelry designer and music educator. From the time Ed was young, they encouraged him to pursue his artistic interests, which included painting as well as music. After the singer became world famous, he even introduced John and Imogen to some high-profile artists.
During a 2015 interview with The Mirror, Ed shared that he loves giving back to his parents. The musician explained, “Being able to really pay my parents — not just financially — but being able to give them the things they wouldn’t ever have dream of ... Seeing them going off doing their thing is probably the best thing that’s come out of my career.”
He also opened up about John and Imogen's relationship. “My parents are so in love it’s ridiculous,” Ed said. “They’ve cracked it.”
From their parenting style to their shared love of art, here’s everything to know about Ed Sheeran’s parents, John and Imogen Sheeran.
They share two sons and two grandchildren
Before welcoming Ed on Feb. 17, 1991, John and Imogen had their first son, Matthew Sheeran, in 1989. Ed's older brother is an award-winning composer who writes music for television and film.
Ed’s parents are also grandparents to his daughters, Lyra Antarctica and Jupiter. The singer and his wife, Cherry Seaborn, welcomed Lyra in August 2020 and Jupiter in May 2022. While speaking with Zane Lowe on New Music Daily in June 2021, Ed said that becoming a father helped him understand his parents more.
“The relationship that I had with my parents has completely changed,” he said. “It was amazing before, but now it's just like there's this eternal gratefulness and respect of being like, I know what they went through and I'm still kind of like, going through it.”
John was strict when Ed was young
During a 2017 interview with British GQ, the “Perfect” singer revealed that his father was tough on him at times.
“My dad’s calmed down a lot but when I was not applying myself at school he was strict with me and always having a big go at me for not working hard,” he said.
John's passion for Ed's success translated to music, and he encouraged his son to take the art form seriously. The singer explained that his dad “took the initiative" and frequently drove him to shows to help him get inspired.
Ultimately, John’s approach was successful; by the time Ed was 16, he was working on music every day.
They worked hard to support their kids
In September 2022, John spoke at the charity event My Life in Art, which raised money for Suffolk-based charities. Ed’s father, who worked in the arts for more than 40 years as a curator and lecturer, opened up about his and Imogen’s career journeys during his speech, per The Irish News.
In 1995, the couple moved to Framlingham in Suffolk and ran their art consultancy, Sheeran Lock. Unfortunately, the business was impacted by the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008, and John and Imogen struggled to support their sons, who were both attending music school at the time.
They decided to follow their individual passions, and John stopped traveling frequently to work locally in Suffolk.
“Out of urgent necessity, we needed to change our work direction,” John recalled. “Imogen started a jewelry-making business from scratch, working from home. I started a public art lecturing business combining art history with art appreciation.”
“Necessity truly was the mother of invention for me as I ended up creating my perfect job,” he shared. “After a very difficult year when we felt we might go under, we were back on our feet again.”
Imogen made jewelry to sell at Ed’s shows
Imogen began creating necklaces and bracelets to sell at Ed’s shows in 2010.
“I started making jewelry after the funding was cut for a youth arts programme I was working for,” she told The Sun in 2011. “I made some Liquorice Allsorts bracelets for Ed, to start with, and they went down very well.”
Several of her pieces, including Jaffa Cake necklaces and Smarties bracelets, were inspired by Ed’s favorite snacks. Imogen still sells her jewelry through the Made in Suffolk website and offers a variety of charm necklaces.
Ed and his parents bond over a love of art
According to his father, Ed has always enjoyed painting. “Imogen and I encouraged Edward’s creativity, including drawing and painting, from early childhood," John wrote in a program for the Suffolk charity event, per The Irish News.
Since becoming famous for his music, Ed has introduced his parents to some major artists, including Damien Hirst and David Hockney. “In 2015, Edward took me to meet his friend Damien Hirst at his studio and home in Gloucestershire,” John said in the program.
A few years later, they met Hockney at one of Ed’s 2018 Los Angeles shows. John continued, “In 2020, Hockney invited us both to his studio in LA to look at his latest work, including some of his first Normandy pictures. We had such a good time with him.”
The curator revealed that Ed even encouraged him to create art after retiring. “I’m very much an amateur,” John noted. “I thought I’d be hyper-critical of what I produced, but actually, when it came to it, I didn’t care ... Like Edward, I give my pictures away to family and friends. I like the idea of them having a little piece of me hanging on their walls.”
Ed has an appreciation for his father’s Irish roots
John’s father, William Sheeran, was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and his mother, Anne "Nancy" Mulligan, was born in Wexford, Ireland.
“I come from an Irish family, spent most of my childhood summers and birthdays and Christmases in Ireland listening to trad music bands,” Ed told BBC in May 2017, per Irish Central.
He also opened up about his love for Ireland during an RTÉ interview in 2022. “I came here probably four times a year from a kid,” he said, per Irish Star. “I would always spend my birthday here. And just to show my daughter the culture that her family comes from is a really nice thing.”
“It’s such a special part of the world,” Ed continued. “It’s such an integral part of my family; like I don’t want to lose that with my children; I want them to come back and experience the same things that I did.”
The singer has honored his Irish heritage with several musical tributes, including "Nancy Mulligan," a song about his paternal grandparents’ love story, and "Galway Girl," which he wrote about a fiddle player in Beoga, a traditional Irish band.
Ed references his parents in his music
There are several references to John and Imogen in Ed’s discography.
In his 2014 × (Multiply) track "Runaway," he sings, “I’ve never seen my dad cry / Cold as stone in the kitchen light.” On the same album, he has another song Even My Dad Does Sometimes" that seems to be in conversation with “Runaway." Ed croons in the opening few lines, “It’s alright to cry / Even my dad does sometimes."
On his 2017 album ÷ (Division), the artist included a song called "Supermarket Flowers," which was inspired by his late maternal grandmother. The lyrics are notably written from Imogen’s perspective. During a February 2018 interview, Ed called the tune “the most special song on the record,” per Capital FM.
“My grandmother was very ill during the time I was making the record and passed away at the end of me making the record, so we wrote this song as a tribute and just left it on,” he said. “It was written from my mom’s point of view; it was choosing loads of specific things and then just finishing it as a song."
Ed recalled sharing the song with his mom for the first time during a 2018 appearance on Fitzy & Wippa. “It’s a moment that I haven’t really ever spoken about and probably won’t just because it was so intimate,” he said. “It was pretty intense. I’ll always remember that.”
They created an exhibition dedicated to Ed
Over the years, Ed’s parents saved lots of his special works of art and personal items. Eventually, John curated The Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk exhibition for Ipswich Borough Council to display the works of art.
Per the exhibition's website, it ran from August 2019 to November 2020 and included some of Ed’s original paintings and photos of him performing.
According to a British GQ review of the exhibition, John also displayed tickets to Ed's early gigs, sketches from his notebooks and old school music programs.
The "Shape of You" singer has also shared stories about his parents, revealing more of their different personalities. In an interview with The Times in 2017, Ed recalled them at a Warner Bros. party, where John was asked to put out his cigarette.
“Someone said, ‘Sir, you can’t smoke here.’ And he said, ‘I am Mr Warner,’ and they left him alone," the artist explained, adding that his mom is the opposite. "She is literally an angel."
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