A six-year-old from Hudson County may now be the youngest Grammy winner in history. Ayan Shah is a child vocalist on the album “A Colorful World” by Indian musician Falguni Shah, better known as Falu, which won Best Children’s Album at the 2022 Grammy Awards.
Ayan lives in Weehawken with his family. Recently, he and his father Akash Shah told the Hudson Reporter about the youngster’s road to becoming an award-winning vocalist.
Growing up with music
According to Akash, Ayan is in kindergarten at Stevens Cooperative School in Jersey City. And on top of that, he is a child vocalist. Akash said his son grew up in a musical household.
“We wanted him to be surrounded by music,” Akash said. “Now it’s become a part of his life.”
Growing up in a musical household is somewhat a family tradition, having been a part of Akash’s childhood too.
“I grew up surrounded by music and immersed in it as well, not from as early an age, but certainly throughout childhood,” Akash said.
Since Akash still keeps up with passion for music, he wanted to provide the same and more for Ayan.
“I do a lot of music myself, so I’ve been kind of interested in getting Ayan started on music,” Akash said. “He’s always been interesting in singing, so he started taking lessons a year ago. He’s been doing piano for about a year as well.”
Akash said Ayan enjoys playing music together with him: “He loves playing at home. I do some music with him here.”
From practicing at home, to recording in the studio
Since they took up practicing a year ago, the ultimate opportunity arose. Ayan was asked to record vocals for an album.
“It was being made as an album for children, inspired by South Asian musical styles, and focused on celebrating diversity,” Akash said. “Ayan had the opportunity to sing on the album.”
Akash said it was a good opportunity in terms of, not only being able to share his passion with his son, but also leading him to opportunities to be a part of something diverse that celebrates an Indian heritage and background he can relate to. Obviously, Ayan took the gig.
“It was fun to sing all the songs on the microphone,” Ayan said.
“He sang on three of the tracks,” Akash said. “That was that.”
Still just excited that Ayan was able to record vocals on an album, winning an award was not something on their minds yet. However, the good news came a-knockin’ following the release of the album in September of 2021.
“A couple months later we got the news that it was nominated for a Grammy,” Akash said. “It came as a shock. It was a thrill in itself.”
Ayan and his family including Akash were able to attend the ceremony, hoping for a win.
“We were excited to go along for the ride,” Akash said.
Making history at the Grammys?
Ayan certainly enjoyed the rollercoaster ride that was the Grammys.
“He had an absolute thrilling time,” Akash said.
“There were so many people and music and lights” at the ceremony, Ayan said.
According to Akash, Ayan enjoyed the entire experience from the red carpet, to watching some of the performances by K-Pop group BTS among others.
“We were sitting in the audience with the team that worked on the album. I wasn’t really nervous until the previous award had been presented. Suddenly, then we became very nervous.”
According to Akash, Ayan sat alongside Falu with some of the other children with vocals featured on the album.
“When it actually got announced as a winner it was a real moment for us as a family,” Akash said. “We did not expect it at all.”
Ayan was over the moon, and he and two of the other kids joined Falu on stage.
“He was sitting there with Falu and the other two kids and when they got announced, everyone just jumped up,” Akash said. “I just told him to go up there and smile.”
Ayan’s favorite thing “was standing on stage and seeing everybody clap.”
Talk about hitting the ground running
The whole thing was a monumental experience for the 6-year-old. When he got back to New Jersey with Grammy in hand, his friends and classmates were ecstatic to see Ayan.
“They had a big celebration when he got back to school up at Stevens,” Akash said.
And to top it all off, Ayan may be the youngest ever recipient of a Grammy. The child thought to previously be youngest the youngest every winner was 8-year-old Leah Peasall in 2002. Regardless, Ayan has started his musical career hitting the ground running, while still in kindergarten.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.