© Leo Kalyan

Who Is Leo Kalyan, The Singer Who Performed At Sonam Kapoor’s Baby Shower?

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

Sonam Kapoor’s recently held baby shower was everything that cottagecore dreams are made of and the stunning pictures from the even have gone viral.

Speaking of things from the event that have gone viral, a performance of a medley of Bollywood songs by singer Leo Kalyan has also enamored Kapoor’s followers.

But who is Leo Kalyan?

Turns out, he is someone who has been taking the world by storm ever since he debuted with his dreamy pop sound back in 2015 with his mixtape Stranger. Over the years, the British-Indian-Pakistani singer has topped Spotify’s Global Viral Chart, got playlisted by BBC Radio 1, and garnered millions of plays on SoundCloud. Kalyan’s preferred pronouns are he/she/they and he also modelled for designer Rahemur Rahman for his debut at London Fashion Week in 2019, along with producing music for the showcase.

According to Kalyan, growing up between South London and Lahore from the age of 10 to 17 made a direct impact on his musical journey. The musician claims that he grew up listening to a mix of artists like AR Rahman, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Mariah Carey, Sade, Massive Attack, and Seal. This has informed his music as it has influences from genres like Indian classical music, Bollywood, R&B, electronica, and trip pop.

Kalyan displayed his love for South Asian music, especially Bollywood, when he performed Kapoor’s iconic song, from the 2006 film Delhi 6, ‘Masakali’ and the vintage classic ‘Chura Liya Hai Tumne’ from the 1973 movie Yaadon Ki Baarat. The singer, songwriter, and producer has developed a distinct musical aesthetic that is an extension of his identity as a queer, brown, Muslim man.

When he had first debuted, Kalyan kept his identity anonymous, so as to not distract from his music. But as his work started getting more popular, he realised the impact he could have over other queer people from marginalised backgrounds who he could reach through this work. This is when he started becoming more visible in his work, through images and videos.

The musician uses his music and public image to educate people on the realities of belonging to a marginalised group, both in terms of his sexual and religious identity. Over the years, he has incorporated this into his music, like his song ‘the edge’ which explores the persecution of gay men, or the song ‘F*cked Up’ which is about the confliciting intersectionality of being a person who is gay and from a Muslim background. Not only this, his single ‘No Man’s Land, Pt 1’ talks about the idea that South Asian people are always left out of the equality equation.

With the surge of attention that Kalyan has been getting because of his performance at Kapoor’s baby shower, there’s also bound to be some haters.

The singer took to his Instagram to address this and wrote, “Hate comments always remind me that just by casually living my life – I’m actually CHALLENGING people & societal norms. which means: i’m doing something right. (sic).”

We can’t wait to explore more of Kalyan’s discography!