ANOUSHKA SHANKAR (INDIA)
Having someone as legendary as Ravi Shankar for a father, and the mega-selling Norah Jones for a half-sister has meant great expectations have been a constant background noise during Anouskha Shankar’s very public growing up. Yes, she did take sitar lessons from her dad, and no she didn’t have to struggle to break into the music industry. But nor has she stayed within the strict confines of the Hindustani classical tradition that she is a natural heir to. Then again, neither did Ravi…
She began her training at the age of nine under her father, starting with the tanbura drone accompaniment before progressing to the sitar. Anoushka made her first recording at only fourteen with a minor appearance on a set celebrating her father’s 75th anniversary and recorded her first album three years later, very much under the guidance of dad, and firmly within the classical tradition.
By her third album Live at Carnegie Hall (2001), she was up for a Grammy nomination. A planned ‘gap year’ following this success metamorphosed into a prolonged brainstorming quest to express her own musical identity more, and Rise (2005) was the eventual result – an adventurous chill-out album with strong New Age flavours, but still based largely around a dawn-to-dusk sequence of ancient ragas. Anouskha arranged, produced and composed all the tracks except ‘Solea’, a collaboration with Spanish pianist Pedro Ricardo Miño that explores the common ancestry between Indian music and flamenco. Elsewhere, there are guest appearances from the great VM Bhatt on mohan veena, vocal percussion by long-term collaborators Bikram Ghosh and Tanmoy Bose, and even the sound of a duduk. Anoushka sings and plays piano … and even a little sitar.
Onstage in a peacock green dress, she sits cross-legged, her bare right foot tapping to beats programmed from an Apple Mac laptop, and when she addresses the crowd, her accent is as much Hollywood as Bollywood. She does after all spend part of her year in Delhi and much of the rest in San Diego. That’s roots music for you.
Anoushka Shankar's website
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