Singer Falguni Shah moved to New York to prove that music has no boundaries

New York-based musician Falguni Shah dons many hats. She’s a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter; she’s a student of classical maestros like Ustad Sultan Khan, among many others and mum to her seven-year-old son Nishaad. But above all, she wants to be the person who reinstates music as a unifier, especially in a time that’s looming with divisions of all kinds.

Perhaps this is the reason why her multicultural melodies have found fans as varied as former US President Barack Obama and Italian fashion designer Riccardo Tisci and mega-celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj. A self-proclaimed music nerd, Shah started singing at the young age of three. Her mother, an Indian classical singer, surrounded her with several soulful symphonies. But, it was at the age of six that she decided to pursue music full-time. “I was hospitalised due to a serious bike accident and to cope with the physical pain, my mom suggested I start singing in the hospital. Even at that age, singing would make me forget my pain and feel moments of relief. After that point, I never stopped,” she smiles.

Her journey so far has been marked with the aim of making her music meaningful. Her work with Carnegie Hall’s program, Musical Connections, for instance, aims to rehabilitate prisoners by channelling their negative energy into something positive. Similarly, her Grammy-nominated album, Falu’s Bazaar, released in 2018, was born out of the desire to counter her son’s identity crisis in the US. “The album validated young children who were feeling different and drawing from both cultures,” says the musician who is originally from Mumbai.

Her soon-to-be-released project titled Aatman is another creative collaboration— this time with producers Amon Drum and Sean Dixon. Like all her initiatives, this is also an exploration of two divergent genres, traditional Indian ragas and indie rock. Shah believes, “Music is a powerful tool that can create what would have been an unlikely bridge between two cultures that are completely at odds.”

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