Inside Shawn Mendes' Scandal-Free Journey From Vine Star to Pop Music Standout

"Youth" singer has come a long way in a short amount of time thanks to his voice, personality and hard work

By Mike Vulpo May 25, 2018 10:00 AMTags
Watch: Shawn Mendes: From Vine Star to Chart-Topper

Six seconds can change a singer's life. Don't believe us? Just ask Shawn Mendes.

Back in the summer of 2013, the Canadian native had an idea to perform a cover of Justin Bieber's "As Long As You Love Me." But instead of uploading the rendition on YouTube, he decided to share it on Vine.

"I was sitting in my bedroom and my sister came in and I said, 'Hey, can you record this?'" he recalled to Billboard. After singing six seconds of the chorus, the video "blew up overnight" and helped turn Shawn's musical dreams into a reality.

Island Records signed him in May 2014. His first single "Life of the Party" sold almost 150,000 copies in its first week without any radio promotion. And his debut album Handwritten landed on the top of the Billboard 200.

As Shawn celebrates the release of his brand-new self-titled album today, it's impossible not to recognize and applaud a young man who defied expectations, wowed critics and impressed fans under the spotlight. And yes, he did it all with little to no drama.

Musicians Performing Live on Stage
Shawn Mendes/Vine; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

So how did he go from a Vine star to a man headlining his third global concert tour before turning 21? One of the many reasons is the famous friends he surrounds himself with.

One Grammy winner in particular is Taylor Swift who asked Shawn to open for her star-studded 1989 World Tour in 2015.

Before his first show with the "Shake It Off" singer, Shawn couldn't help but express his excitement at hitting the road with someone who he's admired for so long.

"She's the biggest of the big and she's just amazing," he told E! News when appearing at the 2015 Radio Disney Music Awards. "She's one of the best people I've ever met so I can't wait to go on tour with her."

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Watch: Shawn Mendes Reacts to John Mayer's Kind Comments

And while the chance to perform in front of countless sold-out arenas is a gift in itself, Shawn also remembers the priceless advice he received from the veteran performer.

"She told me not to be afraid to go out on stage because everyone in the stadium came to have fun," he recalled to VMAN magazine. "This is not a judging contest, this is a concert."

Just last weekend, Taylor invited Shawn on stage as the reputation stadium tour traveled to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The song they performed in front of 80,000 people? Shawn's own hit "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back."  

More recently, Shawn has developed a strong friendship with John Mayer and Khalid who are both featured on his new album out today. In addition to creating new sounds together, the artists have been able to inspire each other and drop some wisdom only a certain few would understand.

Stars Discovered on Social Media
Courtesy of Apple Music

"I do see a lot of myself in [John]," Shawn explained to E! News' Sibley Scoles. "Not to say musically, I don't even come close to the level of what he does. Personality wise, what he's gone through and what I'm going through at the moment, there's just a lot of similarities."

He added, "I've learned so much from him. The most incredible thing I've learned is you are never a master of something."

And perhaps that what makes Shawn so likeable to his millions and millions of fans. He's humble, level-headed and grateful in regards to what he's accomplished in a short amount of time.

When looking back on his start as a Vine star to now, Shawn can't believe how much has changed.

Shawn Mendes Looks Back on "Unreal" Performance With Taylor Swift

"I was going to school every day instead of traveling the world and playing shows every day so it's very different," he explained to us before fan-girling over Jennifer Lopez at the Radio Disney Music Awards.

When the topic comes to ladies having a crush on him, Shawn had the best answer. "Being a sex symbol isn't cool unless you're in love with a girl and she calls you a sex symbol," he once told Billboard.

And when it comes to balancing life, career, family and friends, the "In My Blood" singer is still trying to figure it out. He does, however, have an idea of what could work.

"It takes a minute. I don't think you ever do [find balance] and I think that's the whole point of life is that it's forever changing," he shared with E! News. "The biggest thing is effort…Put effort into your life. Put effort into your relationships with people and put effort into your career and you'll find a balance will create itself."

Looking ahead, the 19-year-old is only getting more comfortable with his talents. In other words, this may only be the beginning for a young man who has had millions singing along to hit songs including "Stitches," "Treat You Better" and "Mercy."

"[I'm transitioning between] a lot of things. Between being a kid to being an adult. Transitioning from somebody who wasn't very confident in themselves musically to somebody who considered themselves a musician. And a lot of different things creatively, becoming so much more confident in what I do," he shared with Entertainment Weekly. "I don't know, I just feel…different. I feel like I'm going through a change in a good way."