Edward Christopher "Ed" Sheeran (born 17 February 1991) is an English singer-songwriter, musician, and occasional actor. He was born in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire and raised in Framlingham, Suffolk. He attended the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, Surrey as an undergraduate from the age of 18 in autumn 2009. In early 2011, Sheeran independently released the extended play, No. 5 Collaborations Project, which caught the attention of Elton John and Jamie Foxx. After signing with Asylum Records, his debut album, + (read as "plus"), was released on 9 September 2011 and has since been certified six-times platinum in the UK. The album contains the single "The A Team", which earned him the Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. In 2012, Sheeran won the Brit Awards for Best British Male Solo Artist and British Breakthrough Act.
Sheeran's popularity abroad began in 2012. In the US, he made a guest appearance on Taylor Swift's fourth studio album, Red. "The A Team" was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2013 Grammy Awards, where he performed the song with Elton John. He spent much of 2013 opening for Swift's The Red Tour in North America dates. In late 2013, he performed three sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden as a headline act.
His second studio album, x (read as "multiply"), was released on 23 June 2014. It peaked at number one in the UK and the US. In 2015, x won the Brit Award for Album of the Year, and he received the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year. His single from x, "Thinking Out Loud", earned him two Grammy Awards at the 2016 ceremony: Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. As part of his world tour, Sheeran played three sold-out concerts at London's Wembley Stadium in July 2015, his biggest solo shows to date.
Abel Makkonen Tesfaye (born 16 February 1990), known professionally as The Weeknd (pronounced "the weekend"), is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer. In late 2010, Tesfaye anonymously uploaded several songs to YouTube under the name "The Weeknd". He released three nine-track mixtapes throughout 2011: House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence, which were critically acclaimed. The following year, he released a compilation album Trilogy, thirty tracks consisting of the remastered mixtapes and three additional songs. It was released under Republic Records and his own label XO.
In 2013, he released his debut studio album Kiss Land, which was supported by the singles "Kiss Land" and "Live For". His second album, Beauty Behind the Madness, which became his first number one album on the US Billboard 200, included the top-three single "Earned It" and produced the number-one singles "The Hills" and "Can't Feel My Face". The songs have simultaneously held the top three spots on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart, making him the first artist in history to achieve this. The Weeknd has won two Grammy Awards and has been nominated for an Academy Award. In September 2016, the release of the third album, Starboy was announced, along with the release of the single "Starboy".