Ed Sheeran inspired me today, but not from his music … from his outlook.    

I don’t usually start a newsletter saying – “I just reposted …” – but today I did just repost a clip with Ed Sheeran and Howard Stern that moved me on so many levels. 

Howard commented that Ed’s gift must have always been there, a gift from birth. 

Ed said no. 

Then Ed asked to pull up a YouTube recording at 14 years old where he was a wobbly, out of tune vocalist. 

Ed Sheeran then said over the next 4 years he learned:

  • Harmony
  • How to sing in tune
  • How to perform
  • How to sing in time

And then he added:


The main takeaway from this for me is:

Don’t count ANYBODY out.  Period.  

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UGHH!!!  This makes me wanna cry right now. I could’ve so easily been counted out as a kid if hadn’t been for 2 people – My Mom and my voice teacher Joe Kincaid. 

Can you relate?  Don’t you have people that wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life?  

Most of y’all know my story, but I was put in voice lessons at 9 years old because of my extreme shyness.  Every Wednesday I was in a carpool headed from Trenton to Bells, TN for the weekly lesson and my “group” was made up of girls 4 years older than me because of the carpool situation.  

Talk about being shy!!!  I certainly wasn’t gonna come out of my shell around older kids.  I was so intimidated.  Plus, my teacher was pretty fierce.  My goodness, he was trained at Berklee!!  

And like Ed Sheeran… (I am gonna say this from now on … ha!) I couldn’t sing very well … yet!  

I didn’t speak up much at voice lessons, but I did practice a lot in the basement of our house, where no one could hear me.  

2 years later, I got my big break!  (It seemed like that at the time.) 

My group was about to go on stage at a dress rehearsal.  I was one of 3 sopranos in my group but the other 2 girls did not show up.  So … heart racing … I walked out on stage and adjusted the mic for the very first time to my voice.  

We did the song.  (It was called “Stoney Inn”, a recording by Barbra Streisand) 

When it was over … my voice teacher stopped playing (he was an amazing pianist) and his voice came booming out of the dark theatre.  

Mind you … the whole group was frozen in the spotlight … and Joe said “LeAnn Phelan!!”  … oh my god … it could go either way …. was I in trouble or ….  “I heard EVERY note to the soprano part.”  

That was it.  I told myself at that moment that I could do it! … Just like Ed Sheeran said. 

And I did do it.  

By the time I was 21, I was holdin’ down the Chaka Kahn part on “Higher Love” around the world for the legendary artist Steve Winwood.   

So, if Ed were here, I’d ask him … who encouraged you?  What was your moment when you knew you could do this? 

Maybe he encouraged himself, but my guess would be there was one other person that meant something to him that gave him a nudge to keep going.  

There are lots of different types of creatives on this newsletter … mostly songwriters, but people who paint or draw or write poems or needlepoint or sculpt … and there are lots of different reasons to spend time on your creativity.  It’s not all about reaching superstar status.  

Just like …. RIGHT NOW!  Why am I taking time out of my day to write this newsletter?  There’s a feeling that I have … it’s inspired!  It’s something I want to put out in the world … and it’s scary cause it won’t be perfect and I’ll probably do it too fast and have a typo … but I have to get it out.  

Just like you.  

And I’ll feel happier in my day knowing I got it out.  

Just like you.  

And if it’s a failure, I’ll look at what I can learn from it.  

Just … like … you.  

After all, Ed also said: 

“You learn nothing from success.  You learn everything from failures.”  

Thanks for having this conversation with me!   

  1. Angela Talbott says:

    Fantastic! This made me think of my daughter whom is now at Berklee( she is a singer/songwriter/producer). She had that moment when she was only 7yrs old and had her brother / sister follow her w/ a stool and her guitar case to the local monthly street festival and sat herself down in the middle of the street and started playing/singing her on songs. No lessons ever and she just kept trying even when she wasn’t perfect in her mind. She knew she could do it and did!

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