Indian-American Falguni Shah bags a Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album
In a significant achievement, New York-based Indian-American singer Falguni Shah, also known by her stage name Falu, has bagged a Grammy Award in the category ‘Best Children’s Music Album’ on Sunday (April 3) at the 64th edition of the annual awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The singer won the prestigious award for her music album ‘A Colourful World’, in which she sings about kites, colors and the rainbow.
While sharing the update on her Instagram handle she wrote, “I have no words to describe today’s magic. What an honor to perform for the opening number of the GRAMMY Premiere Ceremony, and then take home a statue on behalf of all the incredible people who worked on A Colorful World. We are humbled and thank the Recording Academy for this tremendous recognition. THANK YOU to the entire team who helped make this album and thank you to the children who contributed so fabulously to this album”.
Incidentally, Falu had told BBC Radio before the April 3 Grammy Awards that as a “brown South Asian woman,” she liked that she was able “to bring the message of unity, inclusiveness and love and positivity and the upliftment through music.” Talking about her album, she said:”It’s a very diverse and a very colorful team that made this colorful album. I feel like we are all like colors, crayons, staying in a box united.”
Breaking down the notion behind colours in an interesting way, the song Crayons are wonderful is based on the mellifluous tunes of Raag Pahadi. The tunes put together beautiful lyrics such as “It’s magical, it’s beautiful, the way that colours get along.” She explained saying, “So we make a song about being brown or what our real identity is. The story was simple – the crayons are all of the different colours but they live in one box together peacefully. I wanted to show him that being brown is alright. And music gets through kids in a much easier way. When you talk to your kids through songs and happiness, it easily penetrates their minds as compared to lectures.”
Her album has other songs, namely Happy, Rainbow, Kite, A Visit to the Farm, and The Elephant Stomp and her sole purpose is to spread some joy through her music for children.
Incidentally, Falu says that she had an epiphany when her nine year old son Nishaad asked her about the kind of privileges denied to people of colour. Her son further probed on why it is that white people get forgiven for the same thing that’s making the black people suffer. Falu found it really difficult to give answers to her son. She didn’t know how to discuss the trials of facing racism all the time and that is what led to her finding a way through music. To simplify further how this world is made for different ethnicities and there’s a place for everyone, she went on to make the album – A Colourful World.
This is Falu’s first Grammy and second nomination. She was nominated in 2018 in the same category for her children’s album “Falu’s Bazaar,” a trilingual album sung in English, Hindi, and Gujarati, with traditional instrumentation.
She is the only Indian-origin woman to have the nomination twice. This year, she stood the winner among other nominees, Activate by 123 Andres, All One Tribe by 1 Tribe Collective, Black to the Future by Pierce Freelon, Crayon Kids by Lucky Diaz, and the Family Jam Band, in the children’s album category.
Originally from Mumbai, Falu moved to the U.S. in 2000 and was appointed as a visiting lecturer at Tufts University. Her subsequent career there has led to a series of high-profile collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, Wyclef Jean, Philip Glass, Ricky Martin, Blues Traveler and A. R. Rahman amongst others.
She was appointed Carnegie Hall’s ambassador of Indian Music in 2006 and has performed for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. She was a featured performer at the Time-100 gala in 2009. Her first album “Falu” was featured in Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History’s “Beyond Bollywood” exhibit as representative of the voice of Indian American trendsetting artists.
In her early 40s, Falguni has in the past collaborated, as has been pointed out, with the Indian music maestro AR Rahman.
She was trained in the Jaipur musical tradition and Banaras style of Thumri. She trained under Kaumudi Munshi and learned semi classical music from Uday Mazumdar.
Her official website also says that she studied under the late vocal master and “sarangi” player Ustad Sultan Khan and vocalist Kishori Amonkar.