Howdy Modi: Meet the 16-year-old rapper who sang National Anthem
It was certainly a special Sunday for Indian-origin teenager Sparsh Shah, when he got his big chance to sing the Indian National Anthem at the 'Howdy Modi' event at NRG stadium, in the presence of PM Modi and US President Trump. However, there is more to this 16-year-old than just his talent. He suffers from a rare medical condition, Osteogenesis imperfecta or brittle-bone disease.
Sparsh, a wheelchair-bound rapper, songwriter, and motivational speaker, had expressed excitement about his performance before the much-anticipated event, which marked the presence of over 50,000 Indian Americans, several US lawmakers, and more than 400 artistes. "It's a big thing for me to be singing in front of so many people. I'm excited to be singing the rashtra gana, Jana Gana Mana," he had said.
"The first time I saw Modiji was in Madison Square, I wanted to meet him, but I could only see him on TV. But due to God's grace, I am going to meet him, and I'm excited to be singing the national-song," Sparsh had added.
A Class-11 student, Sparsh first shot to fame at the age of 12, as he recorded his rendition of the world-popular rapper Eminem's song Not Afraid, which has since garnered over 65mn views. He has also released his first album cover, and appeared on KBC. Among other accolades, he was ranked as one of the Top 10 Indian-origin child prodigies by Yahoo, last year.
When Shah was born in 2004, he suffered about 40 fractures. By the time he turned 14, his body has already suffered above 130. This is because he suffers from a genetic-disorder called Osteogenesis imperfecta that mainly affects the bones, resulting in them breaking easily. However, his disease couldn't break his steely spirit and he focused on doing something creative.
His accolades do not stop with music. Shah was made the 'Youth Ambassador' for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and is involved in several awareness programs about pediatric cancer. A member of Watt NXT Robotics, he also participated in the first World Robotics Championship in St. Louis in 2015. His talent spills over to alphabets and numbers as well.
Meanwhile, at the 'Howdy Modi' event PM Modi and President Trump shared the stage for the first time. While addressing the huge rally, PM Modi highlighted several issues concerning India, such as sanitation, gas and road connectivity, open defecation, economic condition, among others. He also talked about the contentious scrapping of Article 370, and attacked Islamabad for its unending rant against New Delhi.