A pop singer/songwriter who broke records with his debut single, Shawn Mendes was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. After posting a series of his cover versions to various video-sharing sites, Mendes earned a dedicated following of viewers. His mix of Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber’s styles also appealed to Island Records, who signed Mendes in 2014. That same year they released the then-15-year-old’s debut single, “Life of the Party.” American radio initially ignored it, but the track entered the Billboard 100 singles chart at number 24, making Mendes the youngest artist to land a debut single in the Top 25. The song was also included on Mendes’ four-track Island debut, The Shawn Mendes EP. The EP performed well, reaching number five on the Billboard charts on its way toward sales of over 100,000, setting the stage for his full-length debut, 2015’s Handwritten.
Preceded by the single “Something Big,” Handwritten appeared to strong sales, debuting at number one in both Canada and the U.S. The single “Stitches,” which was released that April, became one of Mendes’ biggest hits, reaching the Top Ten in the U.S. and Canada and topping the charts in the U.K. and Germany. In addition, his single “Believe” landed on the soundtrack for the Disney Channel fantasy musical Descendants. While opening for Taylor Swift on the North American dates of her 1989 World Tour, Mendes and Fifth Harmony’s Camila Cabello collaborated on the song “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” which appeared on the deluxe version of Handwritten that was released in November 2015; the song reached the Top 20 on the U.S. and Canadian Hot 100 charts.
The Top Ten single “Treat You Better” preceded Mendes’ second album, Illuminate, which was recorded in upstate New York and arrived in September 2016. Illuminate, which featured co-songwriting contributions from Teddy Geiger and Scott Harris, debuted at number one in the U.S. and Canada, where it also achieved platinum status. It was quickly followed in December by the digital-only Live at Madison Square Garden. Mendes launched a massive world tour in the spring of 2017 and notched another Top Ten single in “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back.” Around this time, he also delivered a live acoustic session for MTV Unplugged. In April of 2018, Shawn performed the single “In My Blood” at a concert for Queen Elizabeth II’s 92nd birthday at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The track lyrically explored Mendes’ struggles with anxiety disorder and was later released as the lead single for his eponymous third full-length, which arrived in May of that year. ~ David Jeffries