Bio's / Profiles

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Anoushka Shankar

She has been playing and studying the sitar with him since she was nine, and at age thirteen she made her performing debut in New Delhi, India. That same year, Anoushka entered the recording studio for the first time to play on her father’s recording, In Celebration. Two years later she helped as conductor with her father and dear friend, George Harrison, on the 1997 Angel release, Chants of India. Shortly thereafter she signed an exclusive contract with Angel/EMI Classics. In the Fall of 1998 her first solo recording, Anoushka, was released to tremendous critical acclaim. Two albums followed, Anourag in 2000 and Live at Carnegie Hall in 2001. The latter was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best World Music Album category, making her the youngest ever nominee in that category. She also played sitar on her father’s Grammy Award-winning album Full Circle: Carnegie Hall 2000, and has appeared as a sitarist on several other CD’s, including Sting’s Sacred Love.


Anoushka spent her formative years in London, where she was born in 1981. By the time she was seven she was also living partly in New Delhi, India, where she still spends half the year performing and helping to take care of the newly constructed Ravi Shankar Centre. At age eleven she moved from London to Encinitas, California, where she graduated in 1999 with honors from public school. The year 2002 saw the release of Bapi: The Love of my Life, a biography she wrote on her father, and Anoushka has also contributed as a writer to several other books. The next year she acted in her first film, Dance Like a Man. She is also a gifted classical pianist, and retains a wide range of interests. But her devotion to the sitar and to her father’s guidance is unmistakable, with a discipline that has led her into an already extraordinary performing career.
In recognition of her artistry and musicianship, the British Parliament presented Anoushka with a House of Commons Shield in 1998. She is the youngest as well as the first female recipient of this high honor. Anoushka became the first woman to perform at The Ramakrishna Centre in Calcutta in February 2000. The Indian Television Academy, Asmi and India Times chose her as one of four Women of the Year in India in 2003. In 2004 Anoushka was chosen as one of twenty Asian Heroes by the Asia edition of TIME magazine.
Anoushka made her conducting debut at age nineteen in New Delhi, conducting a 22-member orchestra premiering a new composition of her father’s titled “Kalyan.” She later conducted again at the historic Concert for George in November 2002. The new composition of her father’s, called ”Arpan,” featured a guitar solo by Eric Clapton and performances by forty-three musicians playing Indian and Western intruments. Before conducting she also played a sitar solo and performed “The Inner Light” with Jeff Lyne.
Anoushka now spends much of the year giving solo performances in Europe, America and Asia, and continues touring the world with her father’s ensemble. Anoushka is also championing her father’s Concerto No. 1 for Sitar and Orchestra, which she first performed with Zubin Mehta conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1997. She has premiered several new works of her father’s, including a piece for sitar and cello with legendary cellist Mstislav Rostropovich at the Evian Festival in 1999, “Mood Circle” at the World Economic Forum in New York in 2002, and “Nivedan” at the “Healing the Divide” benefit in New York City in 2003 which was organized by Richard Gere and Philip Glass, and attented by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Anoushka has shared the stage with many of the world’s top celebrities, including Sting, Madonna, Nina Simone, Anjelique Kidjo, Herbie Hancock, Elton John, Peter Gabriel and James Taylor, and had the fortune to perform in front of such personalities as Ray Charles and Prince Charles.
After a year’s sabbatical in 2004, Anoushka has returned to the concert stage alone and with her father, but has also grown as a composer. She scored the music for a short film titled Ancient Marks, and has recorded her fourth solo album, Rise, which features several of her new compositions, played by her and many notable musicians around the world. It is due for release in September 2005. As her solo career continues to blossom, it seems she is poised to carry forward her father’s legacy as one of the most creative and influential figures in the music world.