Ed Sheeran was honored at the American Institute for Stuttering’s Freeing Voices Changing Lives Benefit Gala on Monday night, and gave a moving speech about stuttering, being a weirdo and “embracing your quirks.”
“I was a very, very weird child,” he said. “I had a port-wine stain birthmark on my face that I got lasered off when I was very young; one day, they forgot to put the anesthetic on, and ever since then, I had a stutter.” He also mentioned his National Health Service-issued glasses and lack of eardrum in one ear. “Stuttering was actually the least of my problems!”
He revealed that rap music was more effective than speech therapy and homeopathy. “My Uncle Jim told my dad that Eminem was the next Bob Dylan — it’s pretty similar, it’s all just storytelling — so my dad bought me The Marshall Mathers LP when I was 9 years old, not knowing what was on it. I learned every word of it, back to front, by the time I was 10. He raps very fast and melodically and percussively, and it helped me get rid of the stutter.”
Sheeran spoke about how stuttering made him a weirdo, but it was a label he came to cherish. “Even if you have quirks and weirdness, you shouldn’t be worried about that. The people I went to school with that were the most normal and were the coolest when we grew up — I was telling Emily [Blunt, the night’s host] earlier that one of the cool kids from school now does my plumbing! That’s a fact!”
He continued, “If you try to be the cool kid in class, you’ll end up very boring and doing plumbing for someone who apparently wasn’t that cool. Be yourself. Embrace your quirks. Being weird is a wonderful thing. … I have a f–king football team now, that’s pretty cool!”
Sheeran has spoken about being bullied as a child before, and back in 2013, told Australia’s Take 40, “I think everyone goes through a bit of bullying at school. Of course you get picked on for certain things, but I think it ends up being a positive.”
In an interview with EW last month, meanwhile, Sheeran discussed his love of The Marshall Mathers LP, and said he almost got to speak to Eminem in 2013, when the rapper performed with Rick Rubin on SNL.
“I remember saying to Rick, ‘Will he know who I am?’ And Rick said, ‘Unless you’re an underground rapper from Detroit, he won’t,'” Sheeran recalled. “I really wanted to meet Jay Z. And I met him at the perfect point where he was aware of who I was so I could go into a conversation, rather than just being the dude that takes a picture. So I’m going to wait for that with Eminem.”