At the historic meeting house of the New York Society for Ethical Culture on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Ed Sheeran needed little more than his voice and a guitar to whip a crowd of 700 fervent fans into a frenzy of mass sing-a-longs or hush them into enraptured silence. The rising British star bounded effortlessly from the hip-hop infused pop of “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” the latest single from his acclaimed debut album +, to the traditional folk of the Irish traditional “The Parting Glass” and Grammy-nominated hit single, “The A Team.”
English sensation Ed Sheeran got an early start on his music career, singing in his church choir and learning the guitar at a young age. He released his first EP, The Orange Room, in 2005 and honed his performance skills through a relentless tour schedule. In 2011, Sheeran gained mainstream attention when his self-released EP, No. 5 Collaborations Project, reached the Number Two spot on iTunes. His full-length debut album, +, was released in the UK the following year, where it went quadruple platinum and won two BRIT Awards. The album was released in the US in 2013 to similar success, reaching the Top 5 of the Billboard charts and receiving a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year.
The New York Society for Ethical Culture was founded in 1876 by Dr. Felix Adler with the mission of advancing social justice for all. In 1910, NYSEC’s Art Nouveau-style meeting house opened across the street from Central Park, next door to the Ethical Culture School it founded in 1878. The meeting house became the starting point for many significant projects and historic events, including the founding of the first free kindergarten in the US, the creation of the Visiting Nurse Service, and co-founding the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union. NYSEC and its historic meeting house continue to host hundreds of programs for social justice today.