The hums of bass and violin enhanced the sweet melodic voice of Falguni “Falu” Shah as she and her musical ensemble ran through sound check in Jones Auditorium Tuesday evening.
At the age of three, Falu’s mother and grandmother took notice of her ability to carry a tune before even being able to speak. Vigorously trained in Classical Indian music at the age of 19, Falu’s tenacity never faltered as she took on 16-hour sessions. Soon after, she ventured off to America where she was given the opportunity to collaborate with other musicians, such as Yo-Yo Ma and Philip Glass.
Elizabeth Janzen, TAMUK Music professor worked with the international artist at Carnegie Hall in New York City. It was Janzen who suggested Falu’s name to the committee that brings forth musical talent. She felt that the students would appreciate a culturally diverse vocalist.
The free performance is Falu’s way of bringing culture to her audience as she interchanges Jaipur and Benares flair. “It is a part of culture, the music allows you to belong, not to be heard. You can grasp from it. Soul to soul, [music] is a universal language that is not defined or limited,” Shah stated.
“I’m really interested in hearing her and I read that she performed at the White House State dinner and so I was really impressed with that… if someone got invited there, they must be phenomenal,” stated Paige De Vaudrecourt, student worker at TAMUK.
Working with other artists shaped her perspective on life, as well as humbled Falu. Alongside Yo-Yo Ma, she stated that she was able to become a better human being. Seeing the beauty in the way artists translated the beauty of their music into everyday life, Falu felt compelled to treat her audiences as her sole devotion every time she hits the stage.
Her goal is to make spectators feel as though she is singing just for them. “My audience is my God, my soul…without them, there is nothing. I feel one with the audience. The notes give you the power to feel what I want you to feel without commenting. It’s heartfelt as the music is a vehicle for the notes as it channels power and emotion,” Falu affirmed.
“I’ve heard her songs on SoundCloud before…she has a nice set of songs like Indian and classical music. She has a way of combining folk and classical music with Indian origin. The motive behind every song is very beautiful,” stated Sarah Vikas Jogavajjala, student at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Falu is proud of her growth and has since felt validated after she was named the ambassador of Indian music in 2006. She is stationed in New York, but performs nationwide. Falu even compared the American crowds to those of India. The audiences in the United States are very open and adventurous, in contrast to her native country where spectators have watched her evolve from a young child into an innovative performer.
In the future, Falu hopes to one day perform with icons such as Paul McCartney, Madonna, or Aretha Franklin. On stage is where she feels the most natural and vibrant. Falu feels that whether she singing for a large crowd or an intimate group, one soul should feel as though she is entirely devoted to them.