Grammy Nominated Falguni Shah on Collaborating With AR Rahman
Falguni Shah is one of the two nominees from India at the 61st Grammy Awards to be held on 10 February, 2019. Falguni, or Falu as she is popularly known, is a New York-based singer and lyricist whose album Falu’s Bazaar has been nominated in the Best Children’s Music category. Falu wrote the songs for this album as an answer to her little son Nishaad’s questions about India and life in her home country.
Falu has trained under Ustad Sultan Khan and also collaborated with AR Rahman, here’s the Grammy nominee speaking to The Quint about her music and Grammy nomination.
Is it true you practiced 16 hours a day while growing up?
Falu Shah: Yes, it’s very true.
How was it to be trained by Ustad Sultan Khan?
Falu Shah: Absolutely a blessing and an out of this world experience
Does Falu’s Bazaar hold any of his direct teachings?
Falu Shah: Very much. When we were debating if we can have more than one language, I remembered Khan Saheb always said, “Sangeet woh hai jo ruh gaaye aur ruh sune” - which means “Music is such that a soul sings and a soul hears.”
Do you believe patience and practice would make a Grammy possible for all aspiring artists?
Falu Shah: I think it is possible along with being present at the right time at the right place. Luck may also be a factor, I think.
You have worked with a number of artists, including AR Rahman, who himself has bagged the Grammys before. Can we hope for new musical collaboration in the near future?
Falu Shah: I would definitely hope that happens.
Do you think it’s harder for Indian musicians to establish a base in countries like the United States? How was the experience for you?
Falu Shah: It sometimes may be challenging to be in a different country and not your native country, but it’s not impossible to pursue music and the arts. In my musical journey - I have had my fair balance of successes and failures. I was always taught by my teachers that in music the journey is what is important, not the destination.
You posted on social media calling America “a nation of immigrants”. Do you believe art and artists can bridge gaps of racial differences?
Falu Shah: I truly believe that art and music have the power to unite humans globally. America is largely a nation of immigrants, but like many other countries also has a rich history of original native residents and also a dark history of those who were brought there against their will. In today’s America, music has the power to bring everyone together as one.
How does your son Nishaad, who inspired your Grammy nominated album, feel about this?
Falu Shah: He is too little to understand what’s going on but sometimes I’ll get questions like, “Mom, what is a Grammy award is it made of steel or glass?”
What does this album mean to you - now that it has been nominated for a Grammy, and on the parallel, its importance in your personal life and the connection it played with your son?
Falu Shah: I feel very honoured, humbled, grateful and lucky - and it motivates me to work harder every day. My son sees me excited and wants to copy his mom, so it’s a nice feeling.
If there was one song you could pick from the album Falu’s Bazaar, which you think defines the story you had woven in its purest sense - which would it be?
Falu Shah: Nishaad’s Lullaby - a song that my mom sings and that has been passed on to me for five generations. I hope Nishaad passes it on to his future generations.
What’s the one thing you want people to know about you?
Falu Shah: I am generally a happy person.
What would you say to someone who has dreams like yours?
Falu Shah: I’m reminded of a song line that I love “Dream big, never give up”
And finally - what’ll you be wearing at the Grammys?
Falu Shah: Remains to be seen ;)
(The 61st Grammy Awards will be telecasted on 11th February 2019 on Vh1 India at 7:30am with a primetime repeat telecast at 9:00pm)