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Child Artist Nishaad Shah on Being a Singer on Grammy-Winning Album ‘A Colorful World’

The 11-year-old from New York has a message for all budding musicians: ‘don’t give up on your dreams’

Rolling Stone India May 23, 2022

Nishaad Shah features as a singer on Falu's Grammy-winning album 'A Colorful World.' Photo: Courtesy of Artist

It’s music’s biggest night, you’re invited on stage and now you’re holding a Grammy trophy in your hands. You’re also 11. Ask Nishaad Shah, the New York-based child artist about his first reaction when the winners were announced at the recently held 64th Grammys in Los Angeles’s MGM Grand Arena, and he says, “It was an unbelievable moment to hear the name of our album ‘A Colorful World’.” 

Nishaad Shah with Falu at the 64th Grammy Awards. Photo: Courtesy of Artist.

The album — on which he features as a singer — bagged the honor in the Best Children’s Album category this year. Helmed by renowned vocalist and composer Falu Shah (who also happens to be Nishaad’s guru and mother), this award marks a first such win in this category for an Indian-origin artist. A Colourful World is a modern ode to India’s centuries-old heritage. Comprising eight songs that feature vocals by Falu and Nishaad among others, the album is a brown child’s window to his roots, with innocuous, accessible tunes stringing together nuanced themes like diversity and multiculturalism. 

While this Grammy special for more reasons than one for the Shah family, it signifies a beautiful milestone for diasporic cultures within the US — the album has found an audience in everyone from an immigrant Gujarati household in Jersey City to a mixed-race Puerto Rican home in Harlem. Prior to this cherished Grammy win, Falu was nominated in the 2021 Grammys in the same category for her album Falu’s Bazaar, which was hailed as the first-of-its-kind record made for South Asian children.”

Nishaad Shah is a prodigious young artist. Photo: Courtesy of Artist.

For young Nishaad, who now has singer credits on a Grammy-winning record, this is just the beginning, although he says he’d much rather like to be an astronaut than a musician when he grows up. Here are excerpts from our conversation with the prodigious artist:
Congrats, Nishaad! What is the sweetest or most memorable thing you remember from your win? 
The most memorable thing was walking towards the stage from our seats and getting nervous about whether I would drop the trophy from my hands since I didn’t know how much it would weigh.

How have your friends and extended family responded to your win? 
They were very happy for me and asked me many questions over and over again about how I felt when I held that Grammy trophy in my hand. 

We know that you love music — do you want to be a musician too when you grow up and make more albums?
I would love to continue to learn and perform music as my hobby just like my dad, but when I grow up, I want to be an astronaut and go to space.

Nishaad Shah on stage at the 64th Grammy Awards. Photo: Courtesy of Artist.

What is your favorite artist who you love listening to?
The Beatles.

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What is the one advice that your mom and dad often give you that has come in handy for you?
Try your best and don’t give up on your dreams.

Are there other Grammy winners from this year who you find amazing and inspiring? 
Lady Gaga and Olivia Rodrigo.

Whose performance from the Grammy did you enjoy watching the most? 
Lady Gaga and my mom, Falu.

Do you ever have a hard time balancing music with studies, or is it going just fine?
It is mostly fine but sometimes it’s hard to find time to practice during weekdays as I have a lot of homework and can barely get to singing or playing piano. So I make sure I do it on the weekends.  However, last summer my mom inspired me to do a mini chilla where I sat in one place and sang one raga (yaman) for four hours nonstop for forty days. It was a very different experience for me as I had to learn how to focus and concentrate on one scale and improvise for four hours without stopping. After doing chilla I discovered that I was able to focus and study like that at school too, and that made everyone in my family very happy including me. 

What is your message to kids who want to be artists?
Try hard and don’t give up.

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What is the biggest dream that you want to achieve in life?
To be an astronaut and go to the moon, and also keep singing music as it is the food for my soul.