Sitar, used widely throughout the Indian subcontinent, has become popularly known in the wider world through the work of Ravi Shankar beginning in the late 1950s, and early 1960s. The sitar saw further use in popular music after the Beatles featured the sitar in their compositions “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”, “Within You Without You”, “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Love You To”.
Anoushka Shankar was born a Bengali Hindu, is a daughter of Indian sitar maestro Ravi Shankar and Sukanya Shankar. She is also the paternal half-sister of American singer Norah Jones, and Shubhendra “Shubho” Shankar, who died in 1992. Anoushka is regarded as an elite sitar player around the world winning many awards for her music.
Anoushka Shankar began training on the sitar with her father as a child 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 Anoushka became the youngest-ever and first woman nominee in the World Music category for her third album, Live at Carnegie Hall.
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.
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.