updated 07/12/2013 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/15/2013 AT 7:00 PM ET
“Elton [John]’s continually surprising me with how much he [cares],” the musician, 22, told PEOPLE Friday in New York City at a showcase for his new custom-designed CF Martin & Co. guitar.
“He’ll ring me weekly just to be like, ‘Don’t give up. Do this single … I know you want to do this but do this.’”
The music industry heavyweight, who handpicked Sheeran to perform a duet with at the Grammys in February, is still “really, really involved” in the singer-songwriter’s burgeoning career.
“For him to take so much interest in my projects is really flattering and humbling,” Sheeran tells PEOPLE.
While being a famous musician clearly has its perks, the Suffolk-born Sheeran still found the transition from anonymity difficult.
“Realizing that not everyone is going to like you” has been hard for him, although Sheeran tells PEOPLE he’s coming around to that fact – and beginning to care a little less.
“People hate you without meeting you and there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no way you can sit them down and have a pint [to] show them that you’re an alright guy.”
Judging by the 10,000-strong crowd he pulled for his performance on Today Friday, those haters are in the minority.