Art imitates life. Ed Sheeran announced his brand-new album Subtract on Wednesday, March 1, and the inspiration for his latest work hits close to home.
The “Perfect” singer, 32, announced the album in an open letter via Twitter, in which he revealed, “My pregnant wife got told she had a tumour [sic], with no route to treatment until after the birth.”
Sheeran tied the knot with his longtime love, Cherry Seaborn, in 2019, and the two have since become parents to daughters Lyra, 2, and 9-month-old Jupiter. In the letter, he did not share an update on his wife’s health since welcoming their second child in May 2022.
His wife’s pregnancy scare is among many difficult moments the Grammy winner said he pulled inspiration from for his new music. Within a month of Seaborn’s tumor diagnosis, “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,” he wrote, likely referring to his plagiarism lawsuit over his song “Shape of You,” which he won in April 2022.
He continued: “I was spiralling [sic] 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. As an artist, I didn’t feel like I could credibly put out a body of work into the world that didn’t accurately represent where I am and how I need to express myself at this point in my life. This album is purely that. It’s opening the trapdoor into my soul.”
At the beginning of his letter, Sheeran explained that the album is one he has been working on “for a decade,” adding, “Then at the start of 2022, a series of events changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music.”
Noting that “writing songs is my therapy,” the star concluded his letter by writing, “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.”
Sheeran and Seaborn, 30, began dating in July 2015 after having first met as students at Thomas Mills High School in Suffolk, England. “One of our best friends worked on my tour,” Sheeran told Us Weekly in March 2017. “So when we came to New York, where she was living at the time, we hung out and reconnected through our mutual friend. She’s great.”
He went on to reveal that the financial advisor was the inspiration behind his hit love ballad “Perfect.”
“It was inspired by Cherry,” he told Us at the time. “The line that goes, ‘Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song’ was about when we were in Ibiza listening to Future’s March Madness literally not wearing any shoes and going mental on the lawn, which was quite a nice time. I didn’t see her first reaction to the song because she lived in New York at the time. So I just emailed it to her but she did really like it.”
After their 2018 engagement and 2019 nuptials, the pair became parents with the birth of Lyra in August 2020.
A few months before welcoming Jupiter, the “Bad Habits” singer thanked his wife while accepting the award for Songwriter of the Year at the BRITs in February 2022. “My wife Cherry who, at the drop of a hat, will come to the middle of nowhere to a really secluded studio and live in-house and is so supportive while we just make songs and songs and songs,” he gushed. “So thank you so much. You’re the best.”
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