Originally published in Braselton News Today – January 3, 2018
Khalid Saifullah, a 14-year old Hoschton resident, has big dreams and is candid about them. “I want my name to be a household name,” he said last week. He does not want to be the “next” anybody, he said.
He wants to be KJay – a name he came up with because he is a “junior,” he said. Khalid has been singing for three years and just finished a “great, great experience” at Winterfest in Atlanta. He opened the show, he said, and performed for 10 minutes.
He was on the stage before Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Yo Gotti, Jacquees, and Jeezy. It was a “very, very big show,” he said. His mom, Teletra, said he has been lucky with his manager, Russell Spencer. His parents met Spencer at a local gym, she said. “We didn’t know who this guy was.”
His mother and father own a graphics design company and did some marketing materials for Spencer. “We didn’t just want to say, ‘Hey, our kid can sing,’” she said.
Now they are godparents for Spencer’s child and KJay sang for him in Spencer’s kitchen. “I don’t know what these people saw in him,” Teletra said.
Spencer is a well-known music name in Atlanta and around the country. He is the founder, with Andrew “Gotti” Couser, of Block Entertainment. Christopher Alan “Tricky” Stewart, who owns RedZone Entertainment, is his producer. Stewart has been in the business more than 20 years and is responsible for more than 10 million records sold. He has worked with Beyonce, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears and Mariah Carey.
Khalid’s family has lived in Hoschton for three years and in Buford for six years before that. They moved here from Florida. Khalid is the middle child of five. He was born in Tampa, but the family moved here when he was 2. The eighth-grader attends Georgia Cyber Academy, an online school. Khalid said he began taking advanced courses in the sixth grade, and he now is in all advanced classes.
Khalid said he has “a feeling I’ll skip a grade for math.” He said he maintains a “school” schedule daily, trying to finish before 2. That leaves time for singing and/or dancing practice. “I sing everywhere,” he declared.
He took up dancing about six months ago and now works with five girls and two boys from Atla Entertainment Studios, operated by Kiki Ely and Sakinah Lestage, “They (the two women) are definitely responsible for getting this kid on his feet,” his mom said.
KJay echoed, “It’s real fun dancing.” The Winterfest show was all mom and he hoped it would be.
“Since he came off that stage, his (Spencer) phone will not stop ringing,” she declared. KJay even got an email from the Nickelodeon network, she said.
She said Fresh Empire, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s campaign to prevent and reduce tobacco use among multicultural youth, is considering sponsoring KJay.
She said he participated in a lengthy school tour, focused on bullying, last school year. In October, they made the rounds of four record labels in New York. Teletra said RCA sent a representative to Atlanta to meet with him.
The trip “was basically to have a meeting with his manager, not necessarily saying they’re going to be the ones (to sign him),” she said.
He works at Triangle Sounds Studio in Atlanta and goes to Los Angeles as needed for auditions. He has acted in several TV shows and movies including “The Brady Bunch Meets the Jackson 5” and commercials for Nickelodeon – he’s the Juicy Drop Gummies kid. Khalid will have his first “EP” – a recording with more songs than a single but not as many as an album – Valentine’s Day. He did a Michael Jackson Tribute in the early summer that has had 65,000 views, his mother said.
Khalid is an “urban pop” musician and his mother said Atlanta is the place to be for his kind of music. He said he tries to do “at least a good two hours” of singing and/or dancing every day.