Biography of Shawn Mendes

Canadian Teen Pop Star

Shawn Mendes
Shawn Mendes. Photo by Rich Polk / Getty Images

Shawn Mendes ( Born August 8, 1998 ) first gained attention posting six-second snippets of cover versions of songs on the social media application Vine. He was then noticed by manager Andrew Gertler and the Island record label who signed him to a recording contract. Shawn Mendes' first album "Handwritten" was a #1 chart smash in 2015.

Early Years

Shawn Mendes was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His mother is a real estate agent and his father sells restaurant supplies. His father is of Portuguese descent, and his mother is English. Shawn Mendes attended the Pine Ridge Secondary School in Pickering, Ontario, Canada just to the east of Toronto. 

In 2013, Shawn Mendes first began posting videos on the social media application Vine. Within months, he gained millions of views. By his sixteenth birthday in 2014, he was the third-most-followed musician on Vine. He was first discovered by manager Andrew Gertler seven months earlier in January 2014. "Life Of the Party," the first Shawn Mendes single, was released in June 2014. It opened at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100 making Shawn Mendes, age 15, the youngest artist ever to debut inside the top 25.

Personal Life

Shawn Mendes remains close to his family despite his stardom. He has a younger sister named Aaliyah. In 2015, he was rumored to be dating Camila Cabello of the girl group Fifth Harmony. They recorded the top 20 charting hit single "I Know What You Did Last Summer" together. It was a hit climbing into the top 20 on the U.S. pop chart. In 2016, Shawn Mendes revealed that he did not have a girlfriend and explain in interviews the difficulty in maintaining romantic relationships as a pop star. He told Billboard magazine, "The second I feel about a girl the way I feel about music is when I know."

Albums

  • "Handwritten" (2015): Shawn Mendes put together his debut album as a follow-up to the self-titled EP which hit the top 5 on the Billboard album chart in July 2014. Critics considered his music to be influenced by both Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake. "Handwritten" included Shawn Mendes' breakthrough pop radio hit "Stitches." The album debuted at #1 on the album chart in April 2015 with first week sales totaling over 100,000 copies. A revised edition of "Handwritten" was released in November 2015 with four new songs and five live tracks.
  • "Illuminate" (2016): Expectations were very high for Shawn Mendes' second studio album. HIs music was slightly more adult in nature, but the nods to sexual content were still very subtle. To help promote the album, Mendes appeared as the musical guest on "Saturday Night Live" December 3, 2016. The lead single "Treat You Better" was a hit, and "Illuminate" debuted at #1 on the album chart in September 2016. It sold more than 121,000 copies in its first week. Only four other artists - Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Hilary Duff, and LeAnn Rimes - have reached #1 on the album chart twice at age eighteen or younger.

    Singles

    • "Life of the Party" (2014):  Shawn Mendes' first single "Life Of the Party" caused a sensation by debuting inside the top 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 at #24. The striking success was due to heavy sales to his legion of online fans. Mainstream pop radio failed to take notice, and the song soon faded from the pop chart.
    • "Stitches" (2015): By the time "Stitches" was released as the third single from the #1 charting album "Handwritten," mainstream pop radio was forced to take notice of the strikingly popular teen artist. The song was co-written by former teen pop star Teddy Geiger and Danny Parker, best known for his work with Nick Jonas. "Stitches" was not an overnight success. It spent a month on Billboard's Bubbling Under chart before officially reaching the Hot 100. Nearly six months after it first appeared on charts, "Stitches" reached the top 10 ultimately peaking at #4. Ultimately, it spent a full year on the Billboard Hot 100.
    • "Treat You Better" (2016): Shawn Mendes collaborated again with Teddy Geiger on "Treat You Better," the first single from his second album "Illuminate." The song was a quick success. It debuted inside the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. Ultimately it peaked at #6, becoming Shawn Mendes' second biggest hit single. It also reached #1 on both the adult contemporary and adult pop radio charts. At mainstream pop radio, it peaked at #3.
    • "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back" (2017): For the single release from his reissue of the album "Illuminate," Shawn Mendes turned to a funkier, more dance-oriented, sound. He recognized the early solo work of Justin Timberlake produced by Timbaland as a significant influence. Teddy Geiger was again a primary collaborator. The song was another big hit for Mendes. It reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and rolled all the way to the top of the adult pop, adult contemporary, and mainstream pop radio charts. With the hit, Shawn became the first artist under age 20 to hit #1 on the adult pop radio chart three times.

    Impact

    Shawn Mendes sees male pop stars Justin Timberlake, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, and John Mayer as primary influences. He has been celebrated for his "good guy" approach to pop music creating a distinct niche for himself apart from the tabloid "bad boy" antics of Justin Bieber. In 2016, Shawn Mendes earned an American Music Award nomination for New Artist of the Year. In just four years, he has earned sixteen Teen Choice Awards nominations. 

    Mendes proved that social media is a powerful force in launching and maintaining the careers of pop stars. His stardom has outlived the Vine app that brought him to widespread acclaim. Vine stopped actively accepting new posts in January 2017. 

    Shawn Mendes demonstrated that a teen pop artist can maintain popularity without tabloid press or over-the-top stage productions. Each of his three concert tours has been bigger than the last. The "Illuminate World Tour," his most recent, covered mostly Europe and North America for sixty shows total. It earned more than $35 million at the box office selling out most dates. Time Magazine named Shawn one of its "25 Most Influential Teens" in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

    Shawn's popularity reaches well beyond his core teenage audience. He is a major star on both adult pop and adult contemporary radio which aim for an older audience. His singles "Stitches," "Treat You Better," and "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back" all hit #1 at the adult formats. In 2017, the American Music Awards named Shawn Mendes the Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist.