Ed Sheeran and Bill Withers joined Stephen Colbert on The Late Show to promote an upcoming Carnegie Hall tribute and charity concert in Withers' honor that will benefit the Stuttering Association for the Young — something both musicians suffered from as children.
Sheeran did most of the talking, admitting he still stutters occasionally and noting the impediment arose after doctors forgot to apply an anesthetic while removing a birthmark around his eye. On top of that, Sheeran said he used to wear massive National Health Service-issued eyeglasses and has no eardrum in one ear. "I don't have an eardrum in this ear either," Colbert replied. "I'm not waterproof!"
Still, Sheeran put a positive spin on the assortment of ailments that plagued him as a child: "But my way of looking at it is the reason I became a musician is God looked down and said, 'You probably need some help getting laid.'"
Finally, the famously enigmatic Withers chimed in: "Now that's what you call going from ginger to a ginger snap!"
Sheeran also previewed the upcoming tribute concert with a performance of the Withers classic, "Ain't No Sunshine," backed by a ragtag ensemble comprising Late Show bandleader Jon Batiste and several members of Stay Human. Sheeran's rendition was both simple and idiosyncratic, his soulful vocals and acoustic strumming intermingling with the pomp of a tuba and whinny of Batiste's melodica.
"Lean On Him," the Carnegie Hall tribute concert to Withers, is set for October 1st. Along with Sheeran, the show will feature Michael McDonald, Branford Marsalis, Keb' Mo', Amos Lee, Gregory Porter, Aloe Blacc, Dr. John, Ledisi, Kathy Mattea, Anthony Hamilton, Jonathan Butler and Withers' daughter, Kori Withers (D'Angelo has pulled out of the gig, citing doctors' orders, according to The New York Times). The concert will fittingly feature the musicians recreating Withers' classic 1973 LP, Live at Carnegie Hall, in its entirety.