by Beatriz Perez Reyes
As a part of the Performing Arts Series, Sewanee is bringing Anoushka Shankar, world known sitar player, to campus on November 8th.
Maybe her first name doesn’t ring a bell for many people. And you may also think that only people that are into Indian music know who she is, but you may have heard about some of her family members. Even before she was born, music was already running through her veins.
Her father is none other than Ravi Shankar, an internationally recognized Indian musician. He was the first Indian musician that got to make cross-genre connections with Western music, and he was a great influence for artists like the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, the jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, composer Philip Glass and bands like The Byrds or The Beatles. When George Harrison met him, he learned from him to play sitar, they became friends and played together, like in the famous Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 at the Madison Square Garden.
Also worth noting, her half-sister is the famous singer Norah Jones, who is two years older than her.
In this familiar context, it seems that her fate was musical, and it was very likely that she would end up playing the same instrument that brought her father to be a world known and respected artist. When she was seven, her father was already 70, and decided to tutor her in the instrument that he masters, the sitar. When she was fourteen, she was touring with him. And when she was seventeen, she released her first solo album. Both she and Norah Jones were nominated for the Grammy in 2003 and Anoushka was the World-Music category. In 2006 she was the first Indian to play in the Grammy ceremony.
Like her father, she’s been exploring different musical styles and extending and crossing them to new contexts. She’s done it with flamenco (in her album Traveller, 2011), jazz, electronica (Rise, 2005) and Western classical music, and she’s worked with musicians as varied as Sting, Herbie Hancock, Jethro Tull, Concha Buika or Lenny Kravitz. In her seventh album, Traces of You, which just came out, Norah Jones plays an important role in the vocals of three of the tracks.