“I really value being a songwriter – It’s one of those connections to music that’s indescribable. You could have the worst day in the world but the moment that pen touches the paper and your voice touches the mic, it’s like every word just disappears.”-Khalid
This past Tuesday, BMI hosted its 2023 POP Awards Show at the Beverly Hilton – a Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Presented by Mike O’Neil, Barbara Cane, Samantha Cox, and Tracie Verlinde, the show honored a host of musical creatives including Publisher Of The Year, Songwriter Of The Year, and Song Of The Year.
With multiple accolades for his music, Khalid has received six Billboard Music Awards, three American Music Awards, an MTV Video Music Award, and six Grammy Award nominations. In 2019 he was named Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people. Khalid rose to fame in 2017 after the release of his debut studio album ‘American Teen,’ an album that has been certified 4x’s Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
It was a big night for Black creatives, musicians, and songwriters with Doja Cat taking home top honors with BMI’s Pop Songwriter of the Year Award. The biggest award and honor of the night, The Champion Of The Year Award, was presented to American R&B/Soul singer-songwriter Khalid.
During his acceptance speech for BMI’s 2023 Champion Award, Khalid shared with the audience his journey. From discovering that he wanted to be a singer in a garage that had a mattress taped to the wall to releasing his first song on SoundCloud under an alias, Khalid would have to learn how to navigate through both the positivity and negativity that comes with being an artist.
“Surprisingly, the first song that I wrote was in my bathroom… I was this new kid at this huge school and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and he [my best friend Jerry] introduced me to a guy. ‘I know a friend who has a studio,’ he said. And I’m like a studio, I don’t know if that’s my thing. I don’t know if I want to pursue being a singer professionally. And he was like ‘Oh, you have to go!’ So we walked into this garage and there was a mattress taped on the wall and we sang on the mic for the first time together and it was unserious. But I listened to myself on that microphone and I’m like wait hold on I kind of like what I hear, I kind of sound a little good!” he recalls.
“So, I remember I uploaded a song under an alias. I didn’t even want my name on the song because I didn’t want anyone at school to know that I wrote the song. Um, and although it got some positivity it definitely got some negativity too at my school. I remember one day I’m like you know what, this is exactly why I said I didn’t want to do this. Um, and he [my best friend Jerry] told me he was like think about when you become this huge star. Um positivity is bound to come with negativity. Are you gonna let every negative comment get to you then? I was like, you know what, I’m gonna go in and I’m gonna write a better song. I’m gonna write a better song, I’m gonna write a better song after that,” he explained.
Khalid continued to write songs and one of the songs that came after his epiphany was a song called Saved. It’s a song that made his debut album, the first song that he finished in its entirety. He continued to upload his songs on Soundcloud and to ‘see what it does and see what happens’ and that song turned into another song which led to the 5th song he ever wrote -‘Location.’ It’s a song that just got a certified diamond.
Today, Khalid’s impact is undeniable. With over 53 million monthly subscribers on Spotify and 9.35 million YouTube subscribers and counting – his talent and creativity are undeniable. After accepting the award for BMI’s 2023 Champion Of The Year, the incredibly humble superstar expressed his thanks and gratitude to the cheerful, enthusiastic audience.
“It’s a huge blessing, being a songwriter saved my life. I really value being a songwriter – It’s one of those connections to music that’s indescribable. You could have the worst day in the world but the moment that pen touches the paper and your voice touches the mic, its like every word just disappears. … I really value all of you guys, from the songwriters to the producers, and everyone at BMI. Thank you so much for this honor, this is a huge accomplishment for me. I’m overfilled with joy and I’m just thankful to be in the room with all of you guys so thank you so much for having me.”