How Irish star inspired singer Sheeran, the new hero of the Brits
BRIT winner Ed Sheeran started writing songs at 11 -- after having an "epiphany" at a Damien Rice gig.
The 21-year-old, who won the Best British Male and Breakthrough awards last night, started his career after seeing a show by Kildare songwriter Rice a decade ago.
The star, who posed backstage with model Georgia Salpa, said he had an "epiphany" after his father took him to the gig, and went home that night and wrote several songs.
The move started Sheeran on a ten year path which saw him leave school at 16 and spend years sleeping on friends' sofas. His 2010 breakthrough -- the track You Don't Need Me -- led to a management deal with Elton John.
Like fellow Brits winner Adele, for millions of fans Sheeran is a purveyor of soaring, heartfelt anthems which soundtrack their lives.
But to their detractors both performers are leaders of the New Boring, a wave of polite, ballad-friendly artists who have driven rebellion and noisy guitars to the margins.
Adele, Sheeran and Coldplay swept the Brit Awards as the music industry honoured the artists whose mainstream appeal has given the struggling record industry a much-needed boost.
Boyband One Direction pipped Adele to best single, after a radio vote, for their hit What Makes You Beautiful.
Their win is another success for band member Niall Horan, the 18-year-old plucked from CBS Mullingar to international fame after the 2010 X Factor.
Last year Adele's emotional performance of the break-up ballad Someone Like You, to a piano accompaniment, hushed even the Brits' corporate guests, catapulting the singer to global fame.
Twenty million albums sales later, Adele (23) returned to the O2 Arena in London to claim a brace of awards. She followed up her six US Grammys with the Best British Female and British Album of the Year awards for 21.
Adele reacted angrily when embarrassed host James Corden was forced to cut her off in her acceptance speech. "Can I just say goodbye and I'll see you next time around?" she said and waved her raised index finger towards organisers.
Adele shared top honours with Sheeran, the folk-inspired acoustic performer from Suffolk. He took the Best British Male and Breakthrough awards after breaking into the charts with his song The A Team. His million-selling success was a reward for playing hundreds of pub gigs and an open-minded approach to collaborations with UK grime and hip-hop artists.
However, Sheeran was cited as a "posterboy for the New Boring" by one critic for reviving memories of James Blunt and singing gauche lyrics.
Coldplay, another band whose piano-swaddled anthems divide critics, returned to claim the Best British Group for the third time, 11 years after their debut win.
Industry executives believe that artists like Adele and Sheeran, who doesn't drink, are more likely to build Coldplay-style lengthy careers than Amy Winehouse, whose premature death was marked at the awards, alongside the passing of Whitney Houston.
Artists are now the largest group on the Brits voting panel, in an attempt to enhance the awards' credibility. So while US rockers Foo Fighters were honoured, there was scant reward for Simon Cowell's stable of reality pop stars.
Lana Del Rey, the US singer whose Thirties Hollywood vamp image prompted much web debate, took the International Breakthrough award. Her haunting Video Games single convinced sceptics that there was substance behind the heavily stylised image.
The titans of Britpop, Blur, returned to make their mark, closing the show with a five-song, greatest hits set after receiving the Outstanding Contribution to Music prize.
Noel Gallagher, a solo nominee after quitting Oasis, invited Chris Martin, the Coldplay singer, to share the spotlight during his performance. Jessie J, the R&B singer, left empty-handed, despite enjoying huge success both in the UK and abroad, with her Who You Are album and its accompanying singles.