Coming home with Anoushka Shankar

Sitar player and daughter of one of the most gifted musicians India has ever produced, Anoushka Shankar is back with a new album, Home

“What I don’t like, and is unfortunate about the entertainment media is that artistes are forced to make Classical music more accessible (hence all the crossover albums). One can explore music if one wants to not because one has to,” reveals musician Anoushka Shankar. Even over the phone, one can feel her passion for music. Well-worded thoughts are interspersed with equal amounts of giggles when Shankar speaks with us, about her new album, Home, all the way from London.

Anoushka Shankar
Anoushka Shankar seen at a performance in Bangalore in 2012. Pic/AFP

Classic all the way
While several of her previous albums have been crossover albums (Shankar was the youngest musician and the first woman to be nominated in the World Music category for the Grammies in 2003), Home is a purely Classical album with compositions based on raga Jogeshwari and raga Manj Khamaj.

Those proficient with Indian Classical music would realise how Shankar pays homage to her father Pandit Ravi Shankar, in this album with Raga Jogeshwari, which was created by him. “Jogeshwari is more concentrated, devotional and meditative while Khamaj is romantic; overall, the album is very live,” admits the 34-year-old singer. She feels that it’s been a very long time since she has done a Classical album, and as an artiste she is more mature now, which got her at ease to work on an album of this nature.

“Apart from those who have learnt from him (her father) and worked with him, not many from the outside would know of this raga. This is the place where I started; this is the music I first started with and is my first language. This album is coming home for me in real sense,” she explains.

The new home
Shankar was nine months pregnant during the shoot for Home, hence all the shots are chest up. The album was completed before she gave birth to her second child this summer; she’s been on a maternity break since then.

Currently, back from a five-day stay at a yoga retreat, Shankar plans to pack her bags and head to Italy to play music with friends. Shankar is also working on her next album and will tour India for Home in winter.

“I enjoy being at home, and being a parent is a lot of work. The experience of becoming a parent changes so much, I am a much better musician. As an artiste, you draw from your experiences, and as a mother I have a lot more to draw from. I am a more connected and more sensitive,” she concludes.

Stringing the legacy together

Anoushka Shankar and Pandit Ravi Shankar

Sitarist Anoushka Shankar lent a musical tribute to her late father Pandit Ravi Shankar with a two-city tour in late 2013, starting in Mumbai on December 12 and then travelling to Delhi on December 14. (Read more)

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