BELLEVUE, Wash. — From the very start, 14-year-old Nikhil Bagga struck a chord.
The Bellevue High School freshman took the stage at the NHL Winter Classic at T-Mobile Park with the poise of a seasoned professional as he rocked the national anthem. The Kraken went on to shut out the Vegas Golden Knights 3-0 in dominating fashion.
I was beyond excited,” said Bagga. “I’ve been a hockey fan my whole life.”
Bagga was born in Toronto and now lives in Bellevue. He’s a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who first took up the guitar at nine years old so he could learn to play like his favorite artists: AC/DC, Ed Sheeran, Ayron Jones, and Queen. His first public performance was busking in San Diego on his 10th birthday.
Since then, he has performed at Pike Place Market as well.
I love making music and sharing my music with people,” said Bagga. “I’m practicing the guitar every day for as long as I can.”
The Winter Classic wasn’t his first time in the national spotlight. He’s performed at Kraken and Mariners games, along with performances at The Crocodile in Seattle.
But the national anthem on this platform was an entirely new beast with a Coast Guard flyover, complete with unfurled American Flags, fireworks, and a crowd of 47,000 spectators.
“There was a little bit of making my country proud and just doing the best I can," Bagga said about his mindset during the performance, later saying it felt like an out-of-body experience.
"I don’t even remember. It was just like being in the zone.”
When it was over, Bagga said the relief set in.
“There was a lot of work that went into it,” said Bagga. “My dad has been my number one supporter throughout all of this.” Bagga’s performance garnered a lot of attention online. His rendition garnered plenty of praise on social media, including from news organizations and influencers.
Bagga has a single coming out later this month and an EP coming out shortly after.