A basketball high school crowd almost reduced American singer-songwriter Khalid to tears once, when they chanted at him that he couldn't sing.
"I can remember being in high school, in my senior year, going to a basketball game and the whole opposing side chanted 'Khalid can't sing', 'Khalid can't sing'. And honestly, I wanted to cry."
Speaking on the red carpet at the TIME 100 gala in New York City on Tuesday, the Grammy-nominated artist told the media outlet that it was the conversations he had with his mother and her words of advice, that kept him going strong.
"I went home and I talked to my mom and she was like 'Don't listen to them.' She was like 'They're just mad that you're chasing after your dreams. But you can't get rid of that dream, you got to keep on.'"
Praising the conversations that he had with his mother over the years, when faced with harsh criticism, Khalid says that her words feel like a "blessing", which he can pass onto others.
He went onto tell TIME that he also had "a good friend group to get me through it. I never let it get me down."
The singer added that he feels as though he's been told "'no' so much in my life" and told that his voice doesn't "fit a career in music" — whether that be as a singer, or vocal teacher.
Khalid was chosen as one of TIME's most influential people of this year, with Alicia Keys writing his tribute for the magazine. Keys, the Grammy-winning musician, called Khalid a "beautiful writer" who has a "full, powerful voice that is somehow unassuming and smooth at the same time."
Khalid told TIME that persistence was key to gaining such recognition: "To keep at it, to keep going and you got it."
Since releasing his debut single "Location" in 2016, the 21-year-old has gained recognition around the world for his music. The Grammy nominated artist has released two studio albums and has collaborated with the likes of Billie Eilish, P!nk and Shawn Mendes.
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