This past week, Diljit Dosanjh made history by becoming the first Punjabi artist to not only perform but sell out major venues across the nation. 

Diljit’s Canadian leg of the ‘Born to Shine’ tour took him to Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto, performing for over 70,000 people in sold-out shows like never seen before for a Punjabi artist on this magnitude. This show set a new standard for Punjabi artists and provided an experience that felt like you were at a festival with some of the best performers around the world.

I’ve been a lover of Punjabi music since I can remember. Growing up as a second-generation Punjabi-Canadian, music was one of the main ways I learned to love my culture. I went to every concert I could, from seeing Jazzy B and Sukshinder Shinda at Wonderland, to every Teeyan Da Mela, and even watching Diljit perform at small venues in Brampton over the years. 

I’ve had the pleasure of watching Punjabi music and artists receive more and more recognition over the years, and attending the Toronto show this past weekend quickly became a highlight and moment of pride. 

Every music lover knows the impact a concert can have— the music, the artist, the design, and the crowd all play such an important role in the entire experience. 

The crowd was electric across the entire arena, it didn’t really matter where you were seated. Every song had the whole audience singing and dancing, And hands were in the air, bouncing up and down to the beat. 

The audience was diverse and was composed of anyone from small babies with their little noise-cancelling headphones, to grandparents in their 70s, still grooving along. 

Dosanjh performed an incredible set, kicking it off, of course, with Born to Shine from his album G.O.A.T. He catered to every member of the audience with throwbacks like Kharku and Patiala Peg and mixing in songs like Vibe and Lover off his newest album, Moonchild Era. And finally, he closed out the show with a shoutout to Toronto’s very own Tory Lanez, with Chauffeur.

His humility and kindness truly set him a world apart. He asked audience members to create space and make sure that the kids attending were able to see. He also brought two adorable young boys on stage with him to dance their hearts out and spoke of how important it is that we encourage the keepers of our future. He created a space where we could all see how dreams really can become a reality. 

This concert goes up there with the times I got to attend festivals watching the likes of Drake, Jay Z and Beyonce, and even One Direction from my teen guilty pleasure days. It’s the first time I experienced both my Punjabi and Western culture come together to give me an experience that every member of the diaspora has been longing for. 

Diljit has marked himself as the top Punjabi artist in the world with this tour. He’s helped push Punjabi music to the mainstream and created a safe space for everyone to enjoy the culture in their new found homes. I can’t wait to see where his light shines next.

His tour continues to the US and UK over the summer. For all my friends reading, I promise you, it’s not a show you want to miss. 

This is history in the making.

About the author

Jessie Brar

Jessie Brar (she/her) is a writer, public speaker, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion professional and Mental Health Activist. She graduated from Queen's University with a degree in Psychology and has worked with several notable organisations worldwide to help raise awareness around important social justice topics and advocate for change. She is deeply passionate about her intersectional identities and is committed to being a life-long learner through her work. Check her out on Instagram - @jessieebrar.

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