Khalid

  • R&B singer and songwriter born Khalid Robinson in Fort Stewart Georgia in 1998.
  • Robinson’s parents were in the military, and his mother sang in the Army Chorus, which meant that he was constantly surrounded by music. By high school, he was active in musical theater. He started writing songs about love and loneliness, recording in his bedroom and posting them on SoundCloud. By his senior year of high school, his music on SoundCloud was noticed by a record label executive, and he was signed to a recording contract.
  • Three months after graduating from high school, he recorded Location, and a music video was uploaded in September 2016. The song became a hit – it peaked at #16 on the Hot 100, and at #8 on the Hot R&B Songs chart. He did a 21-date tour in early 2017, selling out at every venue. In March 2017, his debut album, American Teen was released. In addition to Location, a second single from the album, Young Dumb & Broke, reached #18 on the Hot 100 and #1 on Hot R&B Songs chart. The album was certified 3x platinum. Khalid won the MTV Video Music Award in 2017 for Best New Artist, and he was nominated for 3 Grammy awards for his debut.
  • Now a hot new artist, he became a popular collaborator with many other artists. His guest vocalist role on Logic’s hit song 1-800-273-8255 (the phone number is to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline) contributed to the song’s peak at #3 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Hot R&B Songs chart in 2017. Other collaborations to chart in the top 10 were Love Lies (with Normani, from the soundtrack to the film Love, Simon), Eastside (with Benny Blanco and Halsey), Silence (with Marshmello) and Rollin (with Calvin Harris and Future). He has worked with some of the biggest artists of the day, including Billie Eilish (a beautiful track called Lovely – you can see the video on my Billie Eilish blog from April 28, 2019), Lorde, Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran, Pink and Alicia Keys.
  • In 2018, Khalid released an EP titled Suncity, and several songs from the EP were included in his second studio album Free Spirit, released in 2019 (and debuting at #1 on the album chart). Five songs were top 10 hits on the Hot R&B Chart, with Better and Talk both reaching #1. Talk became his highest charting single on the Hot 100, reaching #3, and it was nominated for a Grammy for Record of the Year.
  • Khalid’s television debut came in 2017 on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and in 2019 he performed on SNL. In April 2019 he was the first artist ever to have all 5 of the top 5 songs on the Hot R&B Chart (and he had 16 of the top 25 songs that same week). In May 2019, he was the most streamed artist on Spotify. In 2020, he won 5 Billboard Music Awards, including Top R&B Artist, Top R&B Song and Top R&B Album.
  • Khalid is another example of how new artists today often breakthrough – it’s all about social media. And yet, there are tens of thousands of artists putting stuff out there on SoundCloud. It still takes a huge stroke of luck to be discovered – and of course, the music needs to be good. I can say that in Khalid’s case, it really is good – he has a distinctive smooth voice which is perfect for R&B, and his songs have a chill uniqueness to them that is refreshing in an R&B world dominated by formula-hip hop. Here’s his video to his hit Better. 

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