Next March the ‘queen of the sitar’ Anoushka Shankar will perform her spellbinding Land of Gold album and show live on stage at WOMADelaide ( 9-12 March, Adelaide’s Botanic Park) at the Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House (Sunday, March 11) and then on to Hamer Hall, Arts Centre (Tuesday, March 13).
Land of Gold, which was released by Deutsche Grammophon in April 2016, was inspired by people fleeing civil war, oppression, poverty and hardship. “I believe that art can make a difference, it connects us to our hearts, bringing us back to what really matters. Music has the power to speak to the soul,” says Shankar.
Last in Australia in 2010, Anoushka was performing along-side her father, the late great sitar master, guru Ravi Shankar. His 90th birthday farewell concerts blew away audiences at WOMADelaide, Sydney and Melbourne.
She is a six-time Grammy nominee, has received recognition as the youngest – and first female – recipient of a British House of Commons Shield, credit as an Asian Hero by TIME Magazine, and a Songlines Best Artist Award. Most recently, she became one of the first five female composers to have been added to the UK A-level music syllabus.
Honing her skills under the guidance of her father from the age of nine, by the age of 20, Anoushka had made three classical recordings for EMI/Angel and received her first Grammy nomination, thereby becoming the first Indian female and youngest-ever nominee in the World Music category. In 2005, she released her self-produced breakthrough album Rise, which earned her a second Grammy nomination. Following this nomination Anoushka became the first Indian artist to perform at the Grammy® Awards.
In 2011 Anoushka signed to Deutsche Grammophon, heralding a fertile creative period which was rewarded with three further consecutive Grammy nominations. Traveller was a critically-hailed exploration of Indian Classical music and Spanish flamenco. This was followed by Traces of You (produced by Nitin Sawhney and featuring Anoushka’s half-sister Norah Jones on vocals), and Home, a purely Indian Classical album where she returned to the Ragas her father had taught her.
A truly global music star, Anoushka has collaborated with some of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Berlin, London & New York Philharmonic, and with artists as diverse as Sting, M.I.A, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Joshua Bell and Herbie Hancock. Festival appearances have included Edinburgh, Prague Spring, WOMAD, Glastonbury and the BBC Proms in London.
In recent times she has been exploring the space between Indian classical music and the progressive fields of jazz and electronica.
Anoushka has authored the book Bapi: The Love of My Life, a biographical portrait of her father, and been a regular columnist for New Delhi’s First City magazine and the Hindustan Times. She is an avid supporter of women’s rights and social justice. “Most people are musicians simply because they play a certain instrument; when they play that instrument the music appears. But Ravi to me, he is the music; it just happens to be that he plays the Sitar. And its like that with Anoushka. She has that quality – she is the music,” George Harrison. (Photo Credit Charles Seja)