With the power of spoken word poetry, Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa tackles social issues head-on.
A bright, spunky, young woman, Sukhjit took the stage of Australia’s Got Talent (AGT) early this month and showed the world what it means to be a Kaur. Her performance was powerful and inspiring. As a first generation Australian Sikh, her poem addressed the discrimination faced by Sikhs and other minorities.
“When you’ve been given such a loud voice, and when you have the confidence, you need to speak up for the voiceless,” she said in an interview with India Link.
If you’re in Australia, you can watch her performance here, and outside of Australia here.
Joanna Robin of Mamamia News says Sukhjit is their “pick to win Australia’s Got Talent.”
Viewers described her performance as dramatic yet funny. “Humour and satire; that’s the thing Australia uses to get messages across,” Sukhjit said.
TV personality, judge Ian Dicko described her performance as “nation-building” and said it was full of “heart and humor.”
“The voices of bigotry and hatred in this country are so loud and noisy and yeah, it’s going to piss people off probably, but stuff ’em, because this is something that needs to be heard,” said singer-songwriter Judge
Judge Sophie Monk, model & actress, said she wanted Sukhjit to keep spreading her message and Judge Kelly Osbourne, entertainer, said “there needs to be more people like you in this world.” Osbourne later Tweeted at Sukhjit, “I bow down to you and your braveness.”
All four judges gave Sukhjit a “Yes” vote and she advanced to the next round.
Sukhjit’s motivation to try-out AGT came from a desire to have a more inclusive media representation of ethnic and religious minorities.
“As a little girl I used to look up at Hollywood and Australian media and wonder, ‘Where all the Sikh, Indian, and brown girls? The ones that still had their mane of hair on their bodies, ones that were intelligent and speaking up against injustice in society, and ones that were proud of who they were,’ ” she told Kaur Life. “If I did catch a glimpse of caramel, it was always a side-character, never the star of the show. So I started to wonder if people would EVER step it up in Australia and follow a performing arts path.”
“…. I fell into the forgotten art form of spoken word poetry a couple of years ago and have had a blast performing at events across Australia,” Sukhjit told Kaur Life. “The people who come to these events are the converted, the leftist, artsy, advocates who click to every line with an understanding. It’s safe, comfortable, and easy. But what would a wider audience look like? How would they react to such prevalent issues? AGT was my golden ticket to challenge myself and see if I had what it takes to get up on the world stage and unapologetically voice my opinion. My story. My truth.
Never did I expect such an overwhelming response.”
The first poem Sukhjit’s wrote is “A dress/Address” where she challenges the gendered double standards applied to men and women in the Sikh community. In 2014, she made it to the finals of National Australian Poetry Slam, where she performed at the Sydney Opera House
Sukhjit says she is grateful for the chance to be a part of Australia’s Got Talent. “This is an amazing opportunity to create some awareness and have a woman of colour/Sikh voice/first gen’ Australian droppin’ some truth bombs for the nation to see!”
You can follow her progress on Australia’s Got Talent via her Facebook fan page here.
Here’s an except of the poem she performed on the show:
A contributor and supporter of Kaur Life, Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa (21) was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia and currently lives in Melborune. She is passionate about spoken-word, performance, social justice, Sikhi, and women’s empowerment. Sukhjit is admired by her friends and online supports for being a bold activist.
Articles on Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa’s journey with Australia’s Got Talent:
Huff Po India: Sikh Woman’s Slam Poem On Racism In Australia Is Winning Massive Applause
SBS: Meet Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa, Australia’s Latest Sensation
Mama Mia: Last night, one Australia’s Got Talent Contestant Made Every Judge’s Jaw Drop