Ed Sheeran makes surprise visit to music students in Norwich
- Credit: Geena Sharma-Singh
It was the perfect Thursday for aspiring musicians in the city, as Access Creative College alumni and patron Ed Sheeran visited Epic Studios in Magdalen Street.
Ed, who grew up in Framingham in Suffolk, surprised music students at a secret speaker session and treated them to a Q&A session and meet and greet.
Students at Access Creative College, which provides college and degree courses in music performance and technology, were invited from its centres across the country and were delighted to meet the megastar.
Ed honed his singing and songwriting skills on the Artist Development Course in London and discussed how he decided to do the course as he didn't want to do anything else apart from music and wasn't interested in A-Levels.
READ MORE: 11 cheap and free things to do in Norfolk this week - from a Christmas market to pantoBessie Turner, who studied on the Norwich course and is now signed to an independent label and is from Eye in Suffolk, said: 'Ed was two years older than me growing up in Suffolk and I knew lots of people he knew so it is amazing to see how far he has come.'
Ian Johnson, head of artist development at Access Creative College, said: 'I have known him since he was 16 and I knew he had lots to tell the young people and I think the event has been incredible – it's been a hard job keeping it secret.'
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He also has strong links to Norwich and in his rise to success performed in venues across the city, including the Norwich Arts Centre, The Waterfront and The Brickmakers pub for the semi-final of the Next Big Thing competition in 2008.
He eventually won the competition at the grand final held in the UEA LCR which he returned to in 2011 for a headline show on his UK tour.
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Ed Sheeran said: 'When I started out, Norwich was the main place you could play venues because Ipswich only really had the Steamboat Tavern, Corn Exchange and Regent but they were all quite big whereas Norwich has so many.
'I didn't expect to win the Next Big Thing as I broke all of my strings but it was a weird one and I still have the bottle of champagne I won.'
The star, who released his third album Divide in 2017, has had five number one singles including Sing, Thinking Out Loud and Shape Of You.
He is also known for his songwriting ability and has written hits such as Justin Bieber's Love Yourself, Little Things by One Direction and he co-wrote Jess Glynne's latest single Thursday too.
Jess is an alumni of the London course and Norwich success stories include duo Let's Eat Grandma, whose second album I'm all Ears was named the Q Magazine album of the year 2018, and soul singer Mullally who is signed to Atlantic Records.
Ed is embarking on a world tour in 2019 which ends with four sold-out dates in Ipswich's Chantry Park and he can't wait to return to his home county.
His hit single Castle on the Hill was inspired by childhood trips to Framlingham Castle which he described as a 'love song for Suffolk'.
He also brings his school friends from Suffolk on tour with him and even employs two of them as a photographer and chef.
'The thing is on my rise up I played Norwich quite a lot and I played The Waterfront four of five times, the Norwich Arts Centre and The LCR but I've never done a proper gig in Ipswich and it just felt time to go and play it.
'Yeah I'd like to play Norwich but I wanted to do the Ipswich one first.'