Ed Sheeran has revealed his wife was diagnosed with a tumour while she was pregnant and that he suffered “fear, depression and anxiety” as he dealt with her diagnosis as well as the death of his close friend Jamal Edwards.
The chart-topping British star opened up about the struggles he faced in 2022 in a statement confirming details of his new album, saying that “a series of events changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music and art”.
Sheeran, 32, said his wife Cherry Seaborn was told by doctors she had a tumour while pregnant with their second child, who was born in May, “with no route to treatment until after the birth”.
At around the same time, music entrepreneur Edwards, who founded the SBTV music platform that helped launch the singer-songwriter’s career, died in February at the age of 31.
In March, Sheeran faced a court battle after two songwriters claimed his 2017 hit Shape Of You infringed copyright of their song Oh Why. He later won the case, but spoke out about how it had taken its toll on him.
His upcoming album is titled – (Subtract), and follows previous mathematics-inspired records + (Plus), × (Multiply), ÷ (Divide) and = (Equals).
Sheeran said he had been influenced by the difficult events he had been through when writing the songs and that he scrapped his original work.
“I had been working on Subtract for a decade, trying to sculpt the perfect acoustic album, writing and recording hundreds of songs with a clear vision of what I thought it should be,” he said.
“Then at the start of 2022, a series of events changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music and art.”
‘I felt like I was drowning’
Sheeran, from Suffolk, said that writing songs is “my therapy”.
He added: “It helps me make sense of my feelings. I wrote without thought of what the songs would be, I just wrote whatever tumbled out. And in just over a week, I replaced a decade’s worth of work with my deepest, darkest thoughts.”
The star went on to speak about the events of 2022 that led to his new work. “Within the space of a month, my pregnant wife got told she had a tumour, with no route to treatment until after the birth,” he said.
“My best friend Jamal, a brother to me, died suddenly and I found myself standing in court defending my integrity and career as a songwriter. I was spiralling through fear, depression and anxiety.
“I felt like I was drowning, head below the surface, looking up but not being able to break through for air.”
Sheeran did not go into further detail about Seaborn’s condition. The couple, who married in 2019, announced the birth of their second daughter in May, saying they were “over the moon”.
The star worked with Aaron Dessner of The National, who collaborated on Taylor Swift‘s lockdown records Folklore and Evermore, to help with the writing and production of the album, which is due to be released on 5 May.
Jamal Edwards ‘turned on the light in the room’
‘I wish Jam was here to see it’: Sheeran shares music video planned by his late friend
‘There’s only so many notes’: Sheeran releases statement after copyright win
‘Trapdoor into my soul’
In his statement, Sheeran said he did not feel he could release an album that did not “accurately represent” his current situation and the challenges he has faced.
He described the record as like “opening the trapdoor into my soul”, and added: “For the first time I’m not trying to craft an album people will like; I’m merely putting something out that’s honest and true to where I am in my adult life.
“This is last February’s diary entry and my way of making sense of it. This is Subtract.”
The album cover shows Sheeran’s face combined with a cracked and broken heart. Song titles include Boat, Salt Water, Life Goes On, Colourblind and No Strings, with the album closing with the track The Hills Of Aberfeldy – a reference to the Scottish market town, which he has visited on a number of occasions.
Images taken by acclaimed US photographer Annie Leibovitz have been released alongside the announcement, showing the star being washed away by waves and crouched over a writing desk at night.