Khalid Reveals How His Childhood Helped Him Turn Negativity Into Creativity

If you haven’t noticed lately, a lot of people have been talking about Khalid, the platinum recording artist whose songs are on Spotify here, there, and everywhere. He’s got hundreds of millions of views on YouTube, he’s been on The Tonight Show and Today – and he’s barely out of his teens.

Khalid Amhearst Robinson’s rise has been nothing short of meteoric.

Khalid | Rachel Murray, Getty Images for Pandora Media, Inc.

Get an inside look at how Khalid became the superstar he is today, his strong ties to the community he grew up in, and how his childhood played a big part in his music.

He gets teens, even though he’s no longer one

The “Young Dumb & Broke” singer told Evening Standard last year, “Yeah… I was young, dumb, and broke when I wrote the song. I know how it felt, even if I’m not that now. And even though I’m famous, I still go through things that young people go through. I have to talk about that.”  

Even though he’s now 20 years old, he still gets the teen experience.

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Dean’s list

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The American Teen singer has performed ‘1-800-273-8255’ with American rapper Logic and singer Alessia Cara (the song’s title is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number and its lyrics focus on mental health issues).

In the same interview with the Evening Standard, he said about the song, “I love the message of the song…As a creative, it’s something I definitely have. I suffer from anxiety, moments of depression. I’m in my head so much and I’m thinking so much, I’m playing a tug-of-war within my mind.”

Giving back to his community

The tragic Aug. 3 shooting that killed 22 people in El Paso, where Khalid moved with his army mom in the summer of 2015, affected him deeply.

He issued a statement shortly after, saying, “I have been rocked to the core by the horrific act of gun violence that came to El Paso..I want to give back to my community of El Paso, the city of the 915, who has given so much to me. Please come out and let’s heal together through music while raising money to help those who need it.”

His benefit concert, aptly called “Khalid & Friends: A Night for Sun City raised $500,000 for the shooting victims. He told the concertgoers: “El Paso, I love you so much. This isn’t the end; this is just the beginning. We stand together. El Paso Strong.”

From lonely childhood to platinum star

Khalid was an army kid. Raised by his single mother, a sergeant in the army, he moved around a great deal and has lived in Fort Campbell in Kentucky, Fort Drum in Watertown, N.Y., and six years in Heidelberg, Germany.

He told the Los Angeles Times in March 2017 of those years, “I felt a sense of loneliness. You move so much and you meet so many different people, you kind of meet the same people, in a sense. You build this relationship for a certain amount of years that you share with people and then boom, it’s gone.”

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living & learning

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Even worse was his move in his senior year of high school to El Paso, Texas. But as destiny would have it, it was there that a friend encouraged him to record his songs.

“It kind of hurt me a little bit,” he said of that move. “So I just turned all the negativity into a creative. I guess I was kind of nervous and shy about all of that, I was more nervous about what people would think about the songs that I made.”

It’s doubtful that Khalid is nervous about anything he creates these days. He’s here to stay.