By Om Tat Sat,
When 21-year-old Arthur Gunn aka Dibesh Pokharel nervously stepped onto the stage in front of three American Idol judges for his live audition, nothing appeared to be at stake. His first song did not pass the muster; yet, with some tips from the lenient judges, the second song, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have you ever seen the rain,” made history and even received an invitation to open for Luke Bryan, one of the judges, in Detroit. It seems that he had seen the rain and felt it, even. He made it to the finals that started on February 16 in Hollywood, becoming the first Nepali origin singer to live an American dream.
The Wichita Eagle published his story with the headline: “Wichita singer makes big impression on ‘American Idol’ premiere, judges predict stardom.” Everything clicked for Dibesh who thought about giving himself a stage name Arthur Gunn in 2018. It became clear that America, the land of dreams, had given him the opportunity to fulfill his childhood dream of being a singer.
Dibesh has now become a pride of Nepal, his homeland, and Wichita, Kansas, his adopted home since five years ago. Idol Chatter has provided some basic background information on the budding star. He had migrated after completing his school leaving certificate exam. Although not from a musical family, he was gifted a guitar by his mom as a child and was exposed to music in his environment. After a long gap, he took up music again a year before he left for the land of opportunities. It was in Kansas, he was introduced to country and blue grass music, which he has embraced in his singing.
“Smokey voice,” “soulful” and “story-teller voice,” “magical voice” have been the accolades showered upon him by the judges and other music enthusiasts. His cover of Bob Dylan’s song “Girl from the North Country” has been pronounced as more soulful than the origin. Although Dibesh started his singing career and released an album called Grahan, he had not been recognized in Nepal. It might be that his voice and songs are not the kind that captures the imagination of Nepalese audience brought up on copycat music. As of this writing, his original song “Nyano Ghar” has now received more than 2 million views.
Dibesh was fortunate enough to make it to the land of second chances, and live his dream irrespective of the ultimate result of the show. In fact, he is just following the historical trend. Thousands of years ago, Siddhartha Gautama had to leave for India to become Gautama the Buddha, Arniko also found his fortune after going to China. If Bhrikuti had not married Shrang Chang Gompo of Tibet, who would even know her name now?
Such incidents bring forth the sad reality of Nepal, a forever- cursed nation in folk lore. Only when Nepal manages to shake off its curse by reliving its cultural values based on truth and righteousness, this land will cease to be a beggar seeking for alms on a golden plate. Talent shows like. The fact that It took American Idol to recognize his talent speaks volume on how we are not recognizing people for their talents, instead through connections and party affiliation. It is a sad commentary on Nepal. TV franchise shows have definitely given a stage for budding Nepali talents ranging from Indian TV to now American TV. Just last year a kid from Nepal, Pritam Acharya, stood in top 3 in the Indian singing show Saregamapa. Dibesh has taken it a step further to the ultimate stage.
Dibesh chose a stage name that is also symbolic of the power of an English name, given that the land he calls home now would find it easier to relate to him by his adopted stage name of Arthur Gunn. He is making many people proud, and social media has been one of the bright spots in highlighting overlooked talents. His YouTube channel in the name of Arthur Gunn, created on 25th July 2017, has over 159,000 subscribers and more than 2.7 million views for this 15 videos, comprising of both originals and cover songs.
Dibesh is definitely on a new track of his life. His name recognition has leap-frogged and his talent is in the world sight. His Instagram following has crossed 52.6 thousand, and YouTube subscribers over 131,000. The American Idol video clip featuring him has also solicited almost 5.5 million views and more than 15,000 comments.
Ben Schaeffer commented:
The Nepalese are SUCH WARM & KIND people. Namaste brother, Namaste. Such an INCREDIBLE voice, truly. He does this better than Dylan did, and he’s a HARD artist to cover because he’s VERY specific, but this guy makes Dylan his own and sings it as if he wrote it. That’s ARTISTRY.
Another viewer with the name Victoria, clearly bowled-over by the voice commented:
His voice is SO special. I almost wish he didn’t audition for American Idol because I thought about how many people I remember now from American Idol and they’re all from way back in the earlier years and he DESERVES to be heard. Arthur Gunn. Wow. I’m gonna remember his name. He is a VOICE. Better than all the judges combined. So special….that tone, the way he did those runs with the second song…wow. Just wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.
Even the Indian news channel Eastmojo opened its news by stating “American Idol‘s next big discovery seems to be a rockstar from Nepal…”
Here is a universal thuth: Talents are born everywhere, but opportunities are available only in few places. Poverty-striken, under-developed nations are unable to nurture and promote their own talents, most unfortunately. Dibesh is the latest example but still he has found the biggest stage to prove his mettle. Call it fate. Just in case he becomes legendary, we should not be surprised if Nepalese back home start a slogan movement “Dibesh was born in Nepal.” His voice sends chill up the spine. So will his name in days to come.
For now, as Katy Perry proclaimed, Dibesh is “D Best.”
Arthur Gunn has taken us all to Hollywood.
Arthur Gunn – Nepali Album Grahan
The writer is a graduate of Arizona State University in Political Science. He is working as a social activist and motivational speaker for students across Nepal since 2007.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necesarily reflect the official policy or position of Nepalisite.