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Falguni Shah, with the stage name ‘Falu’, is the only Indian Woman with two Grammy Awards nominations. Falguni is a New York-based singer and songwriter. Her music blends ancient Indian classical music with contemporary western music. Her album ‘Falu’s Bazar’ got nominated for Best Children’s Music Album category in the 2019 Grammy Awards and her album ‘A colorful world’ was recently nominated for the same category in the 2021 64th Grammy Awards.

Falguni was born and raised in Mumbai. In her early years in Mumbai, she was trained rigorously in the Jaipur Gharana musical tradition. She later continued studying under Ustad Sultan Khan, the legendary vocal master.

Falu moved to the US in 2000 and continued her musical journey. She collaborated with celebrated musicians like A R Rahman, Yo-Yo Ma, Philip Glass, Ricky Martin, and Wyclef Jean. In November 2009 Falu got to perform in the White House in front of President Obama and the then Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.  This talented musician also performed before the Dalai Lama as well as in prestigious places like Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and at the Time 100 Gala.

Falu’s debut album was released in 2007 and her second album titled ‘Foras Road’ came out in 2013. ‘Foras Road’ contained songs inspired by the semi-classical music performed for centuries by courtesans dwelling on the Foras road in Bombay. The album was re-released in 2018. 

Falguni Shah was named one of the 20 most influential global Indian women by the Economic Times of India in 2015. She won the Women Icons of India award in 2018.

Falguni with her husband Gaurav Shah has a son Nishaad. And it was her son’s endless questions that prompted her to make music for children. She made the album ‘Falu’s Bazar’ as an answer to her son’s questions about cultural differences. As a mother, she thought the best way to answer his questions would be through music. So, she started writing songs to give her son a sense of identity as an Indian American child growing up in New York City.

“Why do white people get away with things that coloured people don’t?” –  the idea for her album ‘A colorful world’ came from this question that was asked by her son. She created the analogy of crayons, to convey to her son that the world is not black or white, but it has different colors. And all the colors can live peacefully with the others. That resulted in the song, Crayons are wonderful – a gentle melody loosely based on Raag Pahadi.

Falguni believes that music gets through kids in a much easier way. Compared to lectures, they penetrate young minds easily. She wanted to make a song about their real identity as brown people. Falguni wanted to tell her son that all colors of the crayons can exist peacefully in one box together. She wanted to show Nishaad that being brown was alright.

Both ‘Falu’s Bazar’ and ‘A colorful World’ got nominated for Grammy Awards in 2019 and 2021 respectively. The 64th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, originally scheduled to be held at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on January 31, 2022, got postponed and will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 3, 2022.

-Written By Poorna Krishnan

Poorna is from Trivandrum, Kerala and likes to write novels and poems. She is a graduate of ‘The Film and Television Institute of India’, Pune.