With eclectic voices, delightful instrumentation, and lessons for all ages and families, this year’s GRAMMY-nominated children’s albums are brimming with joy, warmth, and learning. This month we speak to two of the nominees.
Falu Shah helps children embrace different cultures with “Falu’s Bazaar”
In a debut children’s music release, Falu Shah offers a musical journey through South Asia. With songs in Hindi, Gujarati and English, “Falu’s Bazaar” is a rich, welcoming and educational glimpse into Indian culture. Falu shares insight into the album she created for her son, and the inspiration behind her creative musical process.
Parvati Magazine: You created “Falu’s Bazaar” for your son. What were you hoping to teach him (and now many others!) about customs and tradition in India?
Falu Shah: It’s great to have an identity of your own and it is absolutely essential to hold on to your culture and heritage. I think despite global political uncertainties, the world is headed toward becoming one, and cultures that were once considered “ethnic” are now increasingly accepted as part of society’s general fabric. I remember seeing an 1800s-era British movie years ago in which one character said that “You need two weeks to see India.” Well, I think you need at least a lifetime to see India, and I feel strongly that the same is true for America—and preparing a child to understand and embrace different cultures is amongst the best gifts we can give.
Parvati Magazine: What did you feel was missing from the musical world that inspired you to write and produce this album?
Falu Shah: When I became a mother I went to look for music that would teach my son more intricacies about his culture and roots, and that would speak to him. I found none that I truly liked so I decided to write and create this album. He hears this album over and over—he finds it fun.
Parvati Magazine: Why is it important for children to be exposed to diverse instruments, cultures and languages?
Falu Shah: I have a feeling that if you expose a child at an early age to different cultures and languages, they learn to accept each other’s differences more easily, and fear less.
Parvati Magazine: This album is rich with not only gorgeous and delicate instrumentation, but with the voices of your entire family! We can hear your husband, your mother, and your son in Falu’s Bazaar. What did it add for you to involve your loved ones in the creative process?
Falu Shah:It was made for my child and he is musically talented, so I thought he should sing on it and even start the album. My husband has been my anchor and we have always written and performed music together, so I definitely wanted him to be a part of this album. He is also an executive producer on it. I wanted my Mom to end the album and she sings a beautiful lullaby in our native language (Gujarati). This lullaby has been passed on to me through five generations, so I am just hoping that my son will likewise be inspired to pass this music on to future generations.
Parvati Magazine: “Falu’s Bazaar” has resulted in your first GRAMMY nomination. What does this mean to you?
Falu Shah: It means that my story was heard and our music was loved by people who never knew about us or about Indian classical music. There is now increasing awareness of what these ancient musical traditions can bring to this world to inspire new generations. It means that immigrants, minorities and women matter in this day and age, perhaps more than ever before.
Parvati Magazine: You have said that creating music is a spiritual practice for you. What does that mean?
Falu Shah: For me the journey is more important than the goal, and music is all about surrendering oneself completely to a higher power. The musical notes are my gods and I try to worship them daily like in a sacred temple. To me creating music sends vibrations out to the world that unite and spread peace and harmony.
Tim Kubart teaches kids to care for others in “Building Blocks”
A veteran of children’s and family music creation, Tim Kubart releases his fifth album for families. Following his GRAMMY Award-winning album “Home”, Tim’s new album “Building Blocks”—also nominated for a GRAMMY—is a celebration of growth, family and friends. This month we get a glimpse of what he hopes to inspire in his listeners. No matter your age or musical preference, Tim’s joy-filled, catchy tunes will speak to your heart.
Parvati Magazine: What was the beginning of your musical journey? What sparked you to create music for children?
Tim Kubart: Music was a subject in school for me and I’m so grateful to my teachers who taught me the foundation of music that I still use now. As far as children’s music goes, when I was in college at Fordham University I started volunteering at a homeless shelter for women and children. I took care of kids in the nursery. When the director of the homeless shelter found out I knew how to play guitar, he asked me to come the next week with it and play for the kids. I learned “The Wheels on the Bus” and wrote a song called “The Octopus Song”, and the first time I played for the kids in the nursery I knew this would be my career.
Parvati Magazine: Tell us about your latest GRAMMY-nominated album, “Building Blocks”. What do you hope for children, and their families, to take away from after playing (and dancing to!) these tunes?
Tim Kubart: The album is about growing our hearts to care for those around us. It goes from one birthday to another. The first few songs are about milestones, how we grow. But it isn’t until later in the album when we realize true growth comes from helping to care for our community. I hope a stronger sense of community and personal growth can come from a listen-through of the album.
Parvati Magazine: Your music speaks to children in a relatable way. One review on your site said, “This isn’t someone singing to a kid, it’s someone truly singing as one.” How did you achieve this?
Tim Kubart: I appreciate you saying that. Maurice Sendak, author of “Where The Wild Things Are”, says with his writing that he was a kid once, and he remembers it all. I feel that way sometimes too. I also think when we speak emotional truth to a feeling, we can find how it parallels the first time we felt it as a young person. Our song “Ready For You” is about how a kid has taken good care of themself, and is now ready to take care of a dog. But really it is a song about being ready to take care of anything, a partner, a child, a friend.
Parvati Magazine: In December you recorded “We Are Growing” with the 90 Junior Chorus students at Woodward Park Elementary School, your alma mater. What was that experience like?
Tim Kubart: We showed up so early! Sometimes I can’t believe how early school starts! The chorus director had gotten all of the kids so ready though. I had so much support from the administration and teachers. It was a very special morning and the kids sounded great.
Parvati Magazine: Meanwhile, your not-so-secret identity is “Tambourine Guy” with the Postmodern Jukebox. How did this come about?
Tim Kubart: Being the Tambourine Guy has been the most unexpected and wonderful gift. My friend Scott Bradlee was making videos in his basement apartment in Queens and asked me to come and play tambourine in one. The next day it had 300,000 views and everyone was calling me Tambourine Guy because I was just smiling and enjoying the tambourine. It wasn’t planned at all beyond that. The project later became Postmodern Jukebox and I’ve been making videos and touring with PMJ for seven years now. One of the videos just reached ten million views. It is an absolute gift to see the way people have connected with Tambourine Guy all around the world. Some come to shows dressed as me with their own tambourines. It is the most joyful thing. I’m so happy to still be doing it.
Note: Tim is also hosting Postmodern Juicebox, a musical variety show on YouTube, for young children.
Originally from Bombay, Falu (aka Falguni Shah) moved to the States in 2000, where she has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Wyclef Jean, Philip Glass, A. R. Rahman and others. Falu continues to pursue her commitment to introducing children to the wonders of the world through her recently released, GRAMMY-nominated debut childrens’ album, “Falu’s Bazaar“.
Tim Kubartis a GRAMMY Award-winning and Emmy-nominated entertainer and content creator for all ages. His mission is to spread kindness and joy, and to encourage others to do the same. Tim hosts the Highlights Hangout, a spinoff of Highlights for Children magazine. He has worked on numerous family music projects, most notably “Sesame Street.”