A star is born!
I’m Filipino, which means that music (or more specifically, karaoke) is in my lifeblood, and I’ve grown up among aspiring singers all my life. But when Prabhleen ‘Leen’ Kaur performed at the Masala Wedding Fair 2023, I knew from the buzz around me that she was someone special; a true songbird among us crows who think we can sing just because we’ve got access to a microphone – and I would know. Getting to meet this effervescent young personality was an extra treat, and the warmth she exuded was only matched by her obvious talent. “I was exposed to music at a very young age,” she tells me, which struck a chord within me, pun very much intended. “The perks of having musician parents!” she continues with a laugh. “I started writing songs at age 13 and have been a stage artist for over five years now.”
Currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Music at the Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music, Leen waxes eloquent about her childhood surrounded by music, with fond memories of singing and playing instruments with her parents, who also studied music. “My father, SP Singh, and my mother, Meenu, have been my mentors and guiding figures all my life,” she says with clear affection in her voice. “They’ve been successful music teachers, performers and composers for over three decades now. When I was young, they made sure I spent time learning, understanding, and most importantly, listening to good music, which piqued my interest in not only Indian and Western genres, but all kinds of world music.”
Now, Leen performs musical genres from around the world, including post 60s classics, modern day pop, R&B, Bollywood, and more. “I started performing onstage for concerts and competitions as a young adult, and I also started a YouTube channel (@LEEN.K) which exposed me to new realms, in terms of my confidence and audience reach – some of my videos have reached over 100,000 views!” she says with awe, and no small amount of gratitude. “I’m grateful for every opportunity that comes my way, and all the kind people that have supported me. You could say, music is my life!”
She spoke to us further on her musical success at such a young age, and her aspirations for the future.
You’ve said that you sing and play several instruments, and write your own music. Which is your favourite form of musical expression, and why?
I occasionally play the piano, mostly to accompany the songs I’ve written, or while I sing. I also play the harmonium and have been trained in the sitar during my younger years. Nevertheless, my favourite musical expression has to be singing, and then improvising music, and making songs of my own.
I started keenly writing at a very young age as I soon realised it was a form of expression, and a way for me to hold a mirror up to my own experiences and emotions. All my life, I looked up to my paternal grandmother, Surjeet Kaur Sakhi, who is also a renowned Punjabi poet. One fine day, I’d grabbed a pen and some paper, and wrote lyrics as I hummed the melody, and that was the moment I knew that it was the truest form of my being. It’s absolutely a divine gift, and I’ve never looked back.
Who do you feel that your music usually appeals to, and who would you like to reach out to the most with your music?
In all these years, I’ve sang and written all kinds of songs: I’ve combined Indian and Western music, made mashups, sang old songs and others that make you feel lucky, so it’s safe to say that I don’t cater to specific audiences. Every age group and nationality can listen to and enjoy my music; music has no limitations whatsoever if one has a good ear!
You’ve talked about how much your parents have inspired your musical journey. Tell us about your other inspirations over the years.
After my parents, I have always admired both Bollywood and Hollywood pop stars, whether it be legends like Whitney Houston, Elvis, Mariah Carey, Adele, and Ariana Grande; or Indian megastars like Kishore Kumar, the iconic and legendary Lata Mangeshkar, and Arijit Singh. I can go on and on, but every artist, if you listen to them enough, can give you musical vibrations that inspire you and that you can pick up. Even watching the way that they talk, their interviews, learning about the causes they champion, and their passions, there’s always something to learn. And not just the big names, but upcoming indie artists in India, Thailand, and all over the world, for that matter. It’s profoundly astounding to see the variety and creativity in music today.
You’re a regular stage performer in community events in beyond, such as during the recent Masala Wedding Fair. What do you love best about it, and how does it help you connect with the community?
I think all of us can relate to the fact that music builds bridges and connects people in a very singular way. The best part is when a huge crowd of people feel the exact wave of feeling that you’re going through in that one moment. Not only do we bond and connect, but those largescale community events remain in our memories, and when you meet next time, you often reminisce and talk of them fondly. If one delivers the same and more of what is expected of them, with the business point of view, yes, the connections follow.
Tell us about your biggest support over the years. Conversely, do you feel like there has been pushback from others who may have wanted you to pursue a career in something other than the arts? Why or why not?
Now that you ask me this question, I’d say that I’ve been the luckiest in this matter. My parents and family knew very early of my artistic nature, not only musically but creatively, and have been more than a backbone and supportive pillar. I owe them every bit of the milestones I’ve achieved. But, in the near future, I would definitely want to pursue other subjects for higher education, I’ve got a lot in mind!
Aside from pursuing further education, what are your other interests?
I love to read, spend time catching up on new and fun series on Amazon and Netflix, and cook whenever I get the time. I’m also very passionate about the current climate crisis, international affairs, and researching things that intrigue me. I also love photography, painting, literature, and history.
What are your aims for the future, and is there anything that you’d like to have done differently?
We all have some regrets; times when we ask ourselves, “why could I not do this better?” or we tell ourselves, “I should’ve prepared more for this,” but I have no major regrets other than posting more content on my social media accounts! I’m proud of myself for saying yes to opportunities, even if they were not in my comfort zone at the time. I hope to accomplish the goals I have visualised and am manifesting for myself, regardless of the timeline, two of which are to perform onstage globally, and follow my dream of becoming an educator. To give back, and to learn to the best of my abilities, is my life motto!
Finally, any advice from your many years following your passions?
Just do it! Don’t think twice; post that video, or finish the verse of that song you wrote. When you’re not bound to the expectations of others or even your own, you won’t know what to expect, and the results may be better than you’ve ever thought they could be. Be good at one thing, specialise and fine tune it, but don’t say no to learning new, additional skills, as it’s always best to be independent. And yes, always network!