Shubhendra Shankar

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Shubhendra Shankar (Bengali: শুভেন্দ্র শঙ্কর; 30 March 1942 – 15 September 1992[1]), also known as Shubho Shankar, was a graphic artist, musician and composer. He was the son and the eldest child of musicians Ravi Shankar and Annapurna Devi.

Early life[edit]

Shubho was the son of sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar (who was 21 when Shubho was born) and surbahar player of the Maihar Gharana, Annapurna Devi (who was 14 when Shubho was born). He was the grandson of Ustad Allauddin Khan, and the half-brother of Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar. He was also the nephew of dance choreographer Uday Shankar, Sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan and a cousin of musician Ananda Shankar and actress Mamata Shankar.

He learned the sitar from his mother Annapurna Devi. He had not completed his "taalim" (training) with her when he left for the USA with his father Ravi Shankar. While living in his father's home in Hollywood, he painted and drew, and earned a degree in fine arts from the Otis Art Institute of the Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles.[1]

In 1971, within two years of his arrival in the US, Shubho Shankar performed in a concert for the first time, playing with his father at New York's Carnegie Hall.[2] The performance was titled "Fathers and Sons" and included tabla players Alla Rakha and his son Zakir Hussain.[3]


Shankar performed frequently on concert tours, composed music for films and recorded several albums. He performed with his father, appearing throughout Europe, Asia and the United States, including performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C..[1]

After marrying, he gradually dropped out of the music scene and stopped playing the sitar for almost eight years.[2] At the age of 40, he took his father's advice to return to his music full-time.[1] He gave lessons in sitar playing, singing and flute in Orange County, San Diego and Los Angeles.

In 1989–1990, Shankar went on a concert tour of England, Europe and India.[3] On this trip, which also was to be his last visit to India, he met his mother after a gap of 20 years during which the two had no communication. He resumed learning the sitar under his mother.[2]

Shankar played together with his father at the Sawai Gandharva Festival in Pune in 1990, where some music critics commented that he was out of tune. Shankar was dejected, and refused to stay in India to complete his sitar education, saying it was "too late now". He returned to the US, and in his last few months cut himself off from everyone.[2]

Personal life[edit]

At a concert he gave at Whittier College, Shubho met Linda, from North Carolina, soon to be his wife.[3] They had two children, son Somnath and daughter Kaveri. Gradually he lost interest in playing the sitar.[2] He worked as a clerk in a liquor store, painted pictures, and drew illustrations for telephone directories, in order to support his wife and two children.[1]


Shankar died of pneumonia at Los Alamitos Medical Center following an illness of several months at his home in Garden Grove. He was cremated and his remains dispersed in the ocean off Marina del Rey.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kristina Lindgren (September 21, 1992). "Shubho Shankar Dies After Long Illness at 50". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 17, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Aalif Surti (August 2000). "Annapurna Devi & Ravi Shankar: The tragedy of a relationship". Man's World. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c John Needham (September 21, 1989). "To The Sitar Born: Shubho Shankar's 2nd Career Turns Out to Be His First Love". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 December 2012.