Anoushka Shankar

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Anoushka Shankar
Anoushka Shankar.jpg
Anoushka Shankar at the Global Rhythm 15th Anniversary Party in 2007
Background information
Born (1981-06-09) 9 June 1981 (age 34)
London, United Kingdom
Origin India
Genres Indian classical, crossover
Occupation(s) Sitarist, composer
Instruments Vocals, Sitar, Piano, Tanpura
Years active 1995–present
Labels Angel, Deutsche Grammophon

Anoushka Shankar (born 9 June 1981) is a Bengali/Tamil sitar player and composer. She is the daughter of Ravi Shankar and the half-sister of Norah Jones.

Early life[edit]

Shankar was born in London into a Bengali/Tamil Hindu family, and her childhood was divided between London and Delhi. She is the daughter of Sukanya Shankar and Indian sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. Through her father, she is also a half-sister of American singer Norah Jones (born Geetali Shankar), and Shubhendra "Shubho" Shankar, who died in 1992.[1]

As a teenager, Shankar lived in Encinitas, California, and attended San Dieguito High School Academy. A 1999 honors graduate, Shankar decided to pursue a career in music rather than attend college.[1]


Anoushka and Ravi Shankar in concert, 2005

Shankar began training on the sitar with her father as a child, with practice consisting of just a couple of sessions a week at the age of seven. Shankar gave her first public performance at the age of 13 at Siri Fort in New Delhi. By the age of fourteen, she was accompanying her father at concerts around the world, and signed her first record contract, with Angel Records (EMI) at 16.

She released her first album, Anoushka, in 1998, followed by Anourag in 2000. Both Shankar and Norah Jones were nominated for Grammy awards in 2003 when Shankar became the youngest-ever and first woman nominee in the World Music category for her third album, Live at Carnegie Hall.

2005 brought the release of her fourth album RISE, earning her another Grammy nomination in the Best Contemporary World Music category. In February 2006 she became the first Indian to play at the Grammy Awards.

Shankar, in collaboration with Karsh Kale, released Breathing Under Water on 28 August 2007. It is a mix of classical sitar and electronica beats and melodies. Notable guest vocals included her paternal half-sister Norah Jones, Sting, and her father, who performed a sitar duet with her.

Shankar has made many guest appearances on recordings by other artists, among them Sting, Lenny Kravitz and Thievery Corporation. Duetting with violinist Joshua Bell, in a sitar-cello duet with Mstislav Rostropovich, and with flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal, playing both sitar and piano. Most recently Shankar has collaborated with Herbie Hancock on his latest record The Imagine Project.

Shankar has given soloist performances of her father's 1st Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra worldwide. In January 2009 she was the sitar soloist alongside the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for the series of concerts premièring her father’s 3rd Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra, and in July 2010 she premiered Ravi Shankar's first symphony for sitar and orchestra with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at London's Barbican Hall.

Acting and writing[edit]

Shankar has also ventured into acting (Dance Like a Man, (2004)) and writing. She wrote a biography of her father, Bapi: The Love of My Life, in 2002 and has contributed chapters to various books. As a columnist she wrote monthly columns for India's First City Magazine for three years, and spent one year as a weekly columnist for India's largest newspaper, the Hindustan Times.

Shankar recorded her following album in Madrid, Spain. Released in autumn 2011, Traveller is an exploration of the commonalities and differences between classical Indian music and Spanish flamenco, and features Shubha Mudgal, Tanmoy Bose, Pepe Habichuela, Sandra Carrasco and Duquende among others.[2]

Benefit concerts[edit]

On 29 November 2002, Shankar was the opening act at the Concert for George, a posthumous tribute to the life and music of George Harrison, held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. She was the principal performer in the entire first set or "Indian portion" of the concert. She opened the show by playing a solo sitar instrumental titled "Your Eyes". Also on the sitar, she performed George Harrison's "The Inner Light" with Jeff Lynne (vocals and guitar). Lastly, she conducted a new composition, Arpan, written by her father. The composition featured Eric Clapton playing acoustic guitar. The concert was modelled after Ravi Shankar's benefit concert with Harrison, the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh.

Shankar was invited by Richard Gere and Philip Glass to perform in a concert at the Avery Fisher Hall in 2003 in aid of the Healing the Divide: A Concert for Peace and Reconciliation. Shankar and Jethro Tull postponed a concert scheduled for 29 November 2008 in Mumbai after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. They reorganised the performance as A Billion Hands Concert, a benefit performance for victims of the attacks, and held it on 5 December 2008. Shankar commented on this decision stating that: "As a musician, this is how I speak, how I express the anger within me [...] our entire tour has been changed by these events and even though the structure of the concert may remain the same, emotionally perhaps we are saying a lot more."[3]


  • British House of Commons Shield, 1998[4]
  • Woman of the Year (shared with Kareena Kapoor, Ritu Beri, and Rhea Pillai) awarded on International Women's Day 2003[1]
  • Named as one of 20 Asian Heroes by the Asia edition of Time in 2004
  • Nominated for a Grammy award in 2003 in the World Music category for her third-album, Live at Carnegie Hall. She was the youngest-ever and first woman nominee in this category.
  • In 2005 she was nominated for another Grammy, in the Best Contemporary World Music category for her fourth album RISE.
  • In 2012 she won Best Artist in the Songlines Music Award[5] for her album Traveller


Shankar is a supporter of animal rights and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She and her father appeared in a thirty-second public-service announcement against animal suffering.[6] Anoushka is also the spokesperson for the United Nations World Food Programme in India.

Shankar has thrown her weight behind an online campaign One Billion Rising on,[7] demanding an end to crime against women in the wake of the Delhi gang rape.[8] The campaign invites one billion women and those who love them to walk out, "Dance, rise up, and demand" an end to this violence. As part of the campaign, she released a video in which she revealed she had been sexually abused by a family friend.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Shankar lives between the United States, the United Kingdom, and India. She is married to British director Joe Wright[10][not in citation given] and their first child, Zubin Shankar, was born on 22 February 2011.[11]


Studio albums[edit]

Live and compilations[edit]


  • AdariniIn Celebration composed by Ravi Shankar 1995
  • Chants Of India – Ravi Shankar; George Harrison, featuring Anoushka as Conductor & Assistant 1997
  • Sacred Love – by Sting 2003
  • 8 classical ragas performed on ShankaRagamala composed by Ravi Shankar 2005
  • Rebirth – Co-written by Gaurav Raina, Tapan Raj and Anoushka Shankar. MIDIval Times 2005
  • Beloved – by Anoushka Shankar remixed by Thievery Corporation – Versions 2006
  • Mandala – Featuring Anoushka Shankar on sitar. Co-written by Hilton Garza, Radio Retaliation
  • Charu Keshi Rain – Co-written by Nitin Sawhney and Anoushka Shankar, London Undersound 2008
  • Variant Moods – Duet For Sitar & Violin (Abridged Version) Written by Ravi Shankar, At Home With Friends by Joshua Bell 2009


  1. ^ a b c "Anoushka Shankar Biography". Musician Biographies. Net Industries. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  2. ^ Sharma, Neha (15 March 2011). "Mommy Anoushka Shankar coming to India soon". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  3. ^ Jamkhandikar, Shilpa (5 December 2008). "Mumbai hosts first concert after deadly attacks". 
  4. ^ De Cruz, Errol (27 February 2001). "Shankar guru a left-handed genius". New Straits Times (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  5. ^ "Songlines - Music Awards - 2012 - Winners". Songlines (magazine). Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  6. ^ "Kentucky Fried Cruelty :: Celebrity Support :: Anoushka Shankar ad Pundit Ravi Shankar". Kentucky Fried Cruelty. PETA. 
  7. ^ "Anoushka Shankar supports the One Billion Rising movement". Yahoo Celebrity India. 
  8. ^ Nigam, Aarushi (7 October 2013). "Anoushka Shankar names song after Delhi gang-rape victim". The Times of India. 
  9. ^ "Anoushka Shankar says she was sexually abused". BBC News. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "Anoushka Shankar's single & pregnant!". The Times of India. 27 August 2010. Retrieved 26 August 2010. 
  11. ^ "Ravi Shankars Website". Archived from the original on 26 February 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 

External links[edit]