Falguni Shah on Inspiration Behind her Grammy-Winning Album 'A Colorful World'

Falguni Shah won the award for 'Best Children's Music Album' at the 2022 Grammys.

2 min read
Falguni Shah on Inspiration Behind her Grammy-Winning Album 'A Colorful World'

Falguni Shah was one of the two Indian musicians nominated for a Grammy in 2022 and even won the award for 'Best Children's Music Album' for A Colorful World. Shah revealed in an interview that she used the analogy of crayons in a box to have a conversation about race with her son Nishaad.

Shah told Indian Express that her nine-year-old asked her, “If you are not white, what do you lose in terms of privilege?” and “Why do white people get away with things that coloured people don’t?”

“As parents, you don’t want to tell them that it’s a horrid world. It’s hard to say that you will sometimes go against people who sometimes don’t like your skin colour. These kids see racism in school every day,” Falguni Shah said.

Shah’s track ‘Crayons are wonderful’ is a result of her trying to simplify the complicated conversation about racial equity for a child. Shah added, “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 into their minds as compared to lectures.”

In 2020, three of the five nominees of the ‘Best Children’s Music Album’ category had declined to accept their nominations to protest the fact that all the artistes nominated for the award were white. This came at a time when the USA, and the world, was swept up by the Black Lives Matter movement following George Floyd’s death.

Musicians Alastair Moock, Dog on Fleas and the Okee Dokee Brothers stepped away from the Grammys that year.

Shah said, “A lot of people felt that some fields in music just do not have enough colourful representation and declining the nomination was their way to say that.”

This year, the nominations are much more diverse. With Shah, 123 Andrés, 1 Tribe Collective, Pierce Freelon, and Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band were nominated at the Grammys 2022.

Shah’s mother, a musician at All India Radio, used to sing to her and her journey with music began. She has been trained by the likes of Uday Mazumdar and sarangi maestro Sultan Khan. Falguni Shah revealed, “Music at that time was also an escape for me because I was a bit dark and kids used to be mean. They would call me kaali bhains (black buffalo) So to escape, I would do chilla kaatna (a ritual where the student practices in isolation for several days).”

This was Shah’s second nomination after her 2019 album Falu’s Bazaar. Her album A Colorful World features tracks like 'Happy', 'Kite', 'The Elephant Stomp' and 'Visit to the Farm'.

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