Obama nod is music to the ears of Indian singer

Indian singer Prateek Kuhad, 29, performing in New Delhi last month. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Indian singer Prateek Kuhad, 29, performing in New Delhi last month. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW DELHI • Starting out, Indian singer Prateek Kuhad gave himself one year to make it.

He is still no stranger to self-doubt - but now, even former United States president Barack Obama is a fan of his heartbreak-inspired songs.

The 29-year-old was enjoying a quiet New Year's Eve at his family home in New Delhi when he received a message saying: "This is big."

Mr Obama had included Mr Kuhad's wistful hit Cold/Mess in his annual list of favourite music, alongside the likes of singers Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce and Lizzo.

"It's cool," Mr Kuhad said, adding that being mentioned in Mr Obama's viral Twitter and Instagram posts was still "overwhelming".

"He is one of the few personalities in our generation who has got a fairly clean image, is one of the good presidents that the world has seen," he said.

"He listens to Big Thief. I love them, but they're not a really big band. It clearly looks like Obama scouts his music well."

Mr Kuhad is not sure how Mr Obama first heard his music, but links it to his tour last year across North America and Europe that helped him break through internationally, but tested his resolve.

He describes the track picked by the former president as a "straight-up heartbreak song", saying he accepts that writing about romance, longing and the complications of love has helped him find fame.

"People would say this is all I can write about. You question yourself, and I did have such a moment in mid-2019. But then I realised I loved what I do."

Mr Kuhad had a comfortable upbringing in the northern Indian desert city of Jaipur before studying maths and economics at New York University.

When he decided to take up music professionally in 2013, he struggled while other paths beckoned.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 05, 2020, with the headline 'Obama nod is music to the ears of Indian singer'. Print Edition | Subscribe