Mendes was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Karen, a real estate agent, and Manuel Mendes, a businessman, selling bar and restaurant supplies in Toronto. His father is Portuguese (from the Algarve), while his mother is English. He has a younger sister named Aaliyah. Mendes was raised in Pickering, Ontario, where he attended Pine Ridge Secondary School.
Mendes learned to play guitar by watching YouTube tutorial videos at the age of 13 in 2012. Less than a year later he started posting cover videos on the social video app Vine in 2013 and gained millions of views and followers in a few months, becoming well known for his six-second snippets of renditions of many popular songs. By August 2014, he was the third most-followed musician on Vine. Artist manager Andrew Gertler discovered Mendes online in November 2013, bringing him to Island Records in January 2014. He officially signed in May 2014 and released his first single "Life of the Party" on June 26, 2014. He became the youngest to debut in the top 25 on the US Billboard Hot 100, making it to number 24 for the week ending July 12, 2014. Prior to his signing, Mendes toured as a member of the Magcon Tour alongside other young Viners with a large following on social media. Mendes was also on a nationwide tour with Austin Mahone as an opening act, releasing his debut major label EP in July. The EP debuted and peaked at number five on Billboard 200, selling 48,000 copies in its first week. He won a Teen Choice award in 2014 for Webstar in Music. On September 5, 2014, "Oh Cecilia (Breaking My Heart)" featuring Mendes was released as the fifth single from The Vamps' debut album, Meet the Vamps. On November 6, 2014, "Something Big" was released as the second single.
On April 14, 2015, Mendes released his full-length album Handwritten, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart with 119,000 equivalent album units, selling 106,000 copies in its first week and was certified platinum. Mendes then became the youngest artist to debut at number one since the release of Justin Bieber’s My World 2.0. The third single from the album, "Stitches", peaked at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming his first top 10 single in the US, and reached the top position on the Mainstream Top 40 chart. The song later reached number one in the UK. Also in 2015, Mendes opened for Taylor Swift during 1989 World Tour dates for North America. In late 2015 Mendes and Camila Cabello, who was at the time a member of the group Fifth Harmony, released their collaborative single "I Know What You Did Last Summer". The song was included on Mendes' Handwritten Revisited reissue. Mendes was listed among Time's The 25 Most Influential Teens in 2014, 2015,, and 2016.
On January 21, 2016, Mendes appeared on The CW's The 100 third season premiere. He later announced his second world tour as a headliner, the Shawn Mendes World Tour which started in March 2016 and sold out 38 shows in North America and Europe within minutes. Mendes signed with modeling agency Wilhelmina Models in early 2016. He also made his first appearance on a Forbes list with their annual "30 Under 30", for 2016. Mendes released "Treat You Better", the lead single from his second studio album Illuminate, in June 2016. Commercially, the single reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart and was certified triple platinum. The album, released September 23, 2016, debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with 145,000 equivalent album units, including 121,000 in pure album sales and was certified platinum. The album foray into "a soft classic-rock groove" in his new direction. "Mercy" was released as the second single on August 18, 2016, which entered the top 20 in the US and the UK and was certified double platinum. Mendes released the live album Live at Madison Square Garden in December 2016. He appeared as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live December 3, 2016. Mendes embarked on his Illuminate World Tour in April 2017, which sold out arenas around the world such as Los Angeles' Staples Center and The O2 Arena in London.
He released the single "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back" on April 20, 2017, included on his Illuminate deluxe edition. The song was Mendes’ third single to reach the top 10 and also reached number one on the Mainstream Top 40 airplay chart. In August 2017, he became the first artist under 20 to have 3 number 1 songs on Billboard's Adult Pop Songs Chart.
Mendes has cited John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, Justin Timberlake, and Bruno Mars as his musical influences. For Brittany Spanos of Rolling Stone Mendes incorporates "catchy acoustic folk-pop tunes" in his catalogue, while for Joe Coscarelli of The New York Times, "his soft, sometimes soulful pop-rock plays primarily to tweens and teenagers, but has also found traction on adult contemporary radio stations." In an interview with Clash magazine, Mendes stated:
"I want to create anthems for people. I want to create anthems for big moments in their lives...I don’t want my music to play for a few months and then go away forever. And not only that, I want to do incredible things that make a difference too. I think it’s not only about the music you release, it’s about the things you do while you’re making the music."
In 2014, Mendes and DoSomething.org launched their campaign called "Notes from Shawn". The campaign was inspired by the lyrics to his first single, "Life of the Party", and addressed low self-esteem, depression and awareness of self-harm. They relaunched their campaign for the second year in a row in 2015 and for a third year in a row in 2016. He has also worked with Pencils of Promise, raising $25,000 to build a school in Ghana.
Mendes has received several awards and nominations, including two MTV Europe Music Awards, four iHeartRadio Much Music Video Awards, and the Allan Slaight Honour from Canada's Walk of Fame. In 2015, Mendes was the recipient of the Breakout Award at the SOCAN Awards in Toronto. In 2016, he received a People's Choice Award for Favorite Breakout Artist. In 2017, Shawn was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Best Pop Video for "Treat You Better".Handwritten (2015)
Shawn Mendes World Tour (2016)
Illuminate World Tour (2017)
Jingle Ball Tour 2014 (with various artists) (2014)
Jingle Ball Tour 2015 (with various artists) (2015)
Austin Mahone: Live on Tour (Austin Mahone) (North America) (2014)
The 1989 World Tour (Taylor Swift) (North America) (2015)