India has a representative in this year’s Grammy Awards.
Singer-songwriter Falguni Shah, who goes by the stage name of Falu, released an album on February 16, 2018, titled ‘Falu’s Bazaar’, which has been nominated in the Best Children’s Music category. She is the only Indian nominee this year.
Inspired by her four-year-old son Nishaad’s curiosity about language, identity, and the food they ate home, Falu’s Bazaar overturns a lot of the stereotypes associated with conventional children’s music. Besides a high degree of musicianship, the album exudes a great deal of depth and maturity.
“I wanted to make a fictional story of an Indian child and how he travels from his home to an Indian bazaar and discovers many new things and languages. In my mind, I created an Indian Dora with my child,” says Falu, in a conversation with The Indian Express.
“I felt that he needed to be assured of his roots, his identity and culture. There was no better way to answer all his question other than through music (which is a language we all speak in our house),” she adds.
Her efforts resulted in a 12-song album in Hindi, English and Gujarati and a Grammy nomination. It features her husband, singer-songwriter Gaurav Shah and her mother, classical singer Kishori Dalal.
Born and raised in Mumbai, Falu has strong musical roots. Beginning with a rigorous training in the Jaipur musical tradition and the Benaras style of Thumri, she went on to study music further under the mentorship of Ustad Sultan Khan, and the legendary Kishori Amonkar, a leading Indian classical vocalist belonging to the Jaipur Gharana.
She moved to the United States in 2000, where after an initial period of struggle, she went onto collaborate with a range of high-profile international musicians like Wyclef Jean, Philip Glass, Ricky Martin, Blues Traveler, Yo-Yo Ma and India’s very own AR Rahman.
Appointed by the illustrious Carnegie Hall as the Ambassador of Indian Music in 2006, Billboard has described her music as “ethereal and transcendental”. In 2009, she even performed for then President of the United States Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama alongside AR Rahman.
Today, she resides in New York. “Falu, known for her ‘Indie Hindi’ sound, blends traditions of Indian classical and folk music with western pop, rock and electronic styles to create songs that explore themes of womanhood, romance, longing, love, and loss,” says her website.
The 61st Annual Grammy Awards will be held on February 10.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)