Sitar maestro Anoushka Shankar was born today in the year 1981. She is the daughter of Sukanya Shankar and Indian sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, who was 61 when she was born. She is also the half-sister of American singer Norah Jones and Shubhendra “Shubho” Shankar.
Anoushka is a British Indian sitar player and composer. She was born in London and her childhood was divided between London and Delhi. Anoushka graduated in 1999 and decided to skip college to pursue a career in music.
She began training on the sitar with her father Ravi Shankar at the age of seven. She gave her first public sitar performance on February 27, 1995, at the age of 13, at Siri Fort in New Delhi as a part of her father’s 75th birthday celebration concert. For this solo debut, she was accompanied by tabla maestro Zakir Hussain.
She released her first album, ‘Anoushka’, in 1998, followed by ‘Anourag’ in 2000. Anoushka has never hesitated to talk about abuse. Four years before the MeToo movement took hold globally, in 2013, the sitar exponent revealed that she was sexually abused as a child. So in a way, her latest song, Sister Susannah has been years in the making.
Sister Susannah is written by poet Nikita Gill, and recited in spoken word by Anoushka over loops of the sitar, the track is a satirical take from the point of view of a controlling man. In an interview, she said, “It creates this tension in the song, which I hope will broaden the conversation around abuse and violence.”
Her spiritual and charismatic musicality has received a variety of prestigious awards, including Woman of the Year award in the year 2003 on International Women’s Day in India, six Grammy Awards nominations, recognition as the youngest and first female winner of the British House of Commons Shield, and the Songlines Best Artist Award.
Here are some of Anoushka Shankar’s best songs:
2. Voices of the Moon
4. Traces of you