Sitar player Anoushka Shankar, daughter of the famous Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, is among the 2016 Grammy nominees. Shankar, 34, has been nominated in the Best World Music Album category for her solo album ‘Home’, which is a pure Indian classical album showcasing the meditative and virtuosic qualities of the Indian raga. ‘Home’ features two ragas, one of which is a creation of her late father Ravi Shankar. This is her fifth nomination in the same category.
Also vying for this prestigious award is Indo-British director Asif Kapadia, who is among the other four among the Indian-origin nominees for the 58th Grammy Awards, which will be held in February 2016. Kapadia features in the nominees list of Best Music Film category for ‘Amy’, his documentary on late singer Amy Winehouse.
Indian origin musician Jeff Bhasker features in the top category -Record of the Year – for Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’. His other nomination is in the Producer of the Year, Non-Classical category.
‘The Afro Latin Jazz Suite’ in the Best Instrumental Composition category has garnered a nod to Indian origin Rudresh Mahanthappa. He and fellow artistes will be competing with another Indian origin talent – composer David Balkrishnan (Confetti Man) in the same section. The 58th Annual Grammy Awards will take place on February 15 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, next year.
In the 1960s, the late musician Ravi Shankar became an ambassador for Indian classical music. He performed at Woodstock, collaborated with the Beatles and introduced Western audiences to the sitar, the Indian stringed instrument. For the last two decades of his life, Shankar was often joined on stage by his most dedicated student: his daughter Anoushka.
Along with performing alongside her father, Anoushka Shankar has experimented with DJs, made an album of flamenco music and teamed up with her half-sister Norah Jones. But on her latest album, Home, Shankar has returned to her father’s classical training. She told All Things Considered that it’s a collection she’s wanted to make for a long time, but it happened to come together just two years after her father passed away.
“He taught me right from the beginning,” Anoushka Shankar says. “So, in a way, the album did sort of feel like a real focusing on him and a process of reconnecting with him through playing the music that I’ve learned from him.”
In the booklet for Home, Shankar included an essay written by her father in the 1960s as an introduction to Indian classical music — but she also encourages listeners to approach the music without learning about it first.
“I think sometimes when you speak about something like ‘Indian classical music’ and ‘ragas,’ and all of that’s new to people, it can be quite intimidating, in the same way that I have sometimes found opera and Wagner intimidating — one doesn’t know where to begin sometimes,” she says. “So I’m quite keen to just say, ‘You know, just listen.’ If one’s curious and wants to know more, one can, but in the beginning you can also just listen.”
The listening, Shankar says, should take some time. “This music is a slow burn, you know? If someone’s used to the average two-and-a-half-minute song on the radio, it can be hard to understand what’s going on, because at two and a half minutes we’re still just playing the first notes and establishing things,” she says. “Give it the time to open up and play, and then it sort of seeps under your skin, and it has a very profound impact as a result.”