Khalid is an American singer and songwriter, who rose to fame with his debut single 'Location' which peaked at No. 16 on the 'US Billboard Hot 100' chart. His debut studio album 'American Teen', which was consciously named such to combat stereotypical views on 'proper American', was equally successful and reached No. 4 on 'US Billboard 200' albums chart. Raised by a single mother, who worked in military, he moved from one place to another and often paints painful pictures of teenage loneliness, as well as of love, through his songs. While talking about fragile relationships, the millennial makes generous references to technology – cell phones, photo albums, GPS, ride-sharing apps – and sometimes to marijuana. According to him, even though he has written songs about friends who dealt with suicidal thoughts, he did not feel the same way, but has wanted to “disappear” at times. While he had felt rootless all throughout his childhood and teenage years, he found a sense of belonging after relocating to El Paso, Texas. While his music has been influenced by artists like Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Father John Misty, Frank Ocean, Grizzly Bear, Chance the Rapper, Lorde, India.Arie, and James Blake, he considers his mother to be his biggest musical inspiration.
Childhood & Early Life
Khalid Donnel Robinson was born on February 11, 1998 in Fort Stewart, Georgia and was raised by his single mother Linda Wolfe who worked in the military as a supply technician for over 10 years. Due to her job, they had to move frequently when he was young, and lived in places like Fort Campbell in Kentucky, Fort Drum in Watertown, New York, and in Heidelberg, Germany for six years.
His parents separated when he was very young, and when he was in the second grade, living in Germany with his mother, his father was killed after being hit by a car. His mother later retired from military at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas as a Sergeant First Class.
His mother, who wanted to be an R&B singer back in the 1990s, performed with a U.S. Army band after joining military due to family issues and often practiced duets with him at home. This paroused his interest in music and prompted him to watch YouTube videos of famous singers like Fleetwood Mac, Adele, Bill Withers, Aaliyah and Father John Misty to learn their style.
After returning from Germany, the family moved to New York where he performed in musicals in school, playing Cornelius in ‘Hello, Dolly’ and Seaweed in ‘Hairspray’. His musical talent earned him popularity, but also made him a target of bullying.
He attended his high school senior year at Americas High School in El Paso, Texas. He initially thought of becoming a music teacher, but began to write and record songs in high school and uploaded them to his Soundcloud page.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
Some of the early songs that Khalid uploaded on the internet include 'Saved' and 'Stuck On You'. Eager to bring out another song before prom, he managed to contact producer Syk Sense and secured an invitation to work with him in an Atlanta studio.
He first worked on the song in Atlanta and then back in El Paso, and released 'Location', which will eventually became breakthrough single and earned him multiple platinum certification from RIAA. The song finished at No. 20 on the Billboard's 'Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay' chart in 2016 and reached the Top 10 on the 'Billboard Hot R&B Songs' chart on January 21, 2017.
He featured on the single 'Electric' by Alina Baraz, released in January 2016. In December that year, he collaborated with Brooklyn-based duo Brasstracks on the track 'Whirlwind' from Yours Truly and Adidas Originals Songs from Scratch series, which was played over 700,000 times on SoundCloud.
In January and February 2017, he went on his debut headlining tour, the 'Location Tour', covering 21 cities around the US, as well as Canada and Europe. He sold out all the venues of the 25 tour dates, including El Paso's 1,500 capacity Tricky Falls.
After the tour concluded, Khalid released his debut studio album 'American Teen' on March 3, 2017. Supported by singles like 'Location' and 'Young Dumb & Broke', the album debuted at No. 9 on the 'Billboard 200' and reached No. 4 in August, and also topped the R&B Albums chart.
Kendrick Lamar's promotional song 'The Heart Part 4', which was released on March 24, 2017, featured uncredited vocals by him. The following month, he featured alongside Alessia Cara on the single '1-800-273-8255' by Logic, which became his highest charting single, peaking at No. 3 on the 'Billboard Hot 100'.
He made his first television appearance on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' on March 15, 2017 and performed the song 'Location', backed by 'The Roots'. One of his songs, 'Angels', was featured on the episode 'Don't Stop Me Now' of the ABC drama series 'Grey's Anatomy' on April 27, 2017.
He began his second headlining tour, the 25-city 'American Teen Tour', on July 12, 2017. In September that year, he joined Lorde, who heavily influenced him, to serve as the opening act on her tour around UK.
His latest single, 'Love Lies', which he recorded with Normani Kordei of Fifth Harmony for the soundtrack of the upcoming drama film 'Love, Simon', is scheduled to release on March 16, 2018.
Khalid's debut album 'American Teen' received critical acclaim and was certified platinum by RIAA on October 24, 2017 for selling over 1,000,000 in combined pure sales and album-equivalent units. The song 'Location' from the album also received platinum certification and sold over 4 million copies.
Awards & Achievements
In July 2016, Khalid reached No. 2 on the 'Billboard Twitter Emerging Artists' chart and was named among top 10 new artists to watch in 2017 by several publications including 'Billboard', Yahoo and 'Rolling Stone'.
In 2017, he was named the 'Best New Artist' at the 'MTV Video Music Awards' and also won the 'Woodie To Watch' honor at the 'Woodie Awards'. That year, he was nominated for several other awards such as the 'BET Awards', 'Teen Choice Awards', 'American Music Awards' and 'Soul Train Music Awards'.
He was nominated for a number of awards at the 2018 'Grammy Award' ceremony. He was nominated for 'Best New Artist', his debut album was nominated for 'Best Urban Contemporary Album', and the single 'Location' was nominated for 'Best R&B Song'.
When Khalid first conceptualized the song ‘Location’, his initial target was to post the song on Soundcloud in time to "win prom king", which he did. However, while he was celebrating his high school graduation in July 2016, television personality and model Kylie Jenner played his single ‘Location’ on her Snapchat to over 30 million followers, which boosted its performance considerably.
He is a huge fan of Elton John, who he got to meet at one of his shows at his home town of El Paso, Texas, where the legendary singer dedicated a song to him. However, he missed to witness the moment as he had to leave the show early because of a friend.