London-born Anoushka, who has lived here until moving to the United States at aged 11, returned back this week.
"I love being in the country and have many close friends around London," she was quoted as saying by The London Paper today. "It's always nice to come back and I am looking forward to the concerts."
Lauding the young musician the Paper said she had given classical Indian music "a sexier edge".
Anoushka, half sister of Norah Jones, has won the hearts of fans and critics around the world with her stunning live performances, critically acclaimed albums and exotic looks.
The two-time Grammy nominee admitted to being happiest when performing, because she said there was a passion on stage that was missing in the recording studio.
"Music is largely a performance art, even if one does it for personal reasons. Being on stage just feels so incredibly right, somehow," she said.
Mixing soulful sound of the sitar with world music, Anoushka performs with four musicians playing tabla, flute, piano and drums.
"Between us, we are able to travel through many different styles of music, from Indian classical and folk to jazz and even a little flamenco."
This mixture of influences has allowed the artist to take Indian classical music into different directions. It's a process Anoushka is keen to continue as she frequently collaborates with artistes from different backgrounds.
She admits that she would like to work with Bjork and that she has collaborated with her jazz-singing half-sister, Norah Jones.
"I've recently recorded a collaborative album with Indian-American musician-producer Karsh Kale and my sister made a guest appearance on a song that I wrote with her in mind," she said.
"The album it's featured on, as a whole, goes all over the place, tracing connections between genres such as Indian and Western classical music, Bollywood, jazz, electronica and rock. It's called Breathing Under Water," she added.
BLENDED: For Anoushka and Kale, there are no boundaries between rock, electronica, and traditional Indian music.
When Anoushka Shankar says that Breathing Under Water (Manhattan), her new collaborative effort with tabla player/producer Karsh Kale, is "the first record I've really had fun making," a natural reaction would be to dismiss the statement as so much media-coached hyperbole. Doesn't every artist pump up the latest work as the pinnacle of his or her career? But the youngest daughter of Ravi Shankar (and half-sister of Norah Jones) makes the proclamation with such a girlish giggle that she seems to mean it.
Shankar, who's now 26, has been paying dues as a sitarist since she was eight. Schooled in the intricacies of the complex instrument by her father (his only private student), she's earned plaudits as the anointed torchbearer of the ancient art, and she's built a devoted international following since her first release.
But after her first three albums -- Anoushka, Anourag, and Live at Carnegie Hall — established her as a formidable presence on the Indian-classical-music scene, restlessness nudged, and on 2005's Rise, on which she played piano as well as sitar, Shankar broke free of tradition. Concentrating on composition in addition to improvisation, and working with like-minded progressive players, she began to explore the possibilities available to a young, worldly, tech-savvy musician whose roots have as much to do with rock and electronica as with traditional Indian music.
Although she was born in London, Shankar spent much of her childhood in New Delhi and her adolescence in Southern California, where the Beatles (family friend George Harrison used to bring her gifts), Rage Against the Machine, and Tori Amos found their way into her consciousness alongside the traditional ragas. "I've always felt blended," she told me over the phone from an island off Washington State, where she was rehearsing for a tour that was supposed to come to the Boston area in September. (Those dates were cancelled.) "It's never been difficult. To me it doesn't seem like one at the cost of the other. Just because you're more Indian doesn't mean you're less something else. It almost makes me sad that culture seems so difficult to so many people. I'm me, outside of anything else. I feel confident enough in who I am as an Indian musician. I am a classical sitarist. That doesn't get put at risk by the things I listen to or the other things I want to do."
Karsh Kale ("Kursh KAH-lay"), meanwhile, spent his coming-of-age years on Long Island, one of three students of Indian heritage in a school of 4000. Like Shankar, he straddled two worlds. "For a long time my Indian influences were kind of kept private. I would come home from school and go into my room and play Indian music for four hours. Then I'd come out and get picked up and go to a Metallica concert. My friends didn't know I was doing my Indian thing."
Kale mastered the traditional tabla drum, but he also embraced electronic percussion. Then he set out to tear down fences, handling production, programming, sampling, keyboards, guitars, bass, vocals, and more with the Indian/electronica fusion collective Tabla Beat Science and on his own albums, most recently 2006's Broken English (Six Degrees).
Breathing Under Water is one of those collaborations that in retrospect was inevitable. Shankar and Kale had known each other for some time, and after Rise and Broken English had been completed, they began jamming informally."That first night we ended up making some music together," says Shankar. "We came up with the melody for what became 'Sea Dreamer' " -- a song on the album with a guest vocal by Sting. Kale adds, "The experience was so fluid that it was obvious that we should do a whole record together."
From there, the ideas flowed freely, though they got nurtured in spurts, thanks to the two musicians' hectic schedules. Sessions were ultimately recorded in Shankar's home of Encinitas, California, in New York City, and in India, where orchestral tracks were laid down with the Bollywood music director/composer Salim Merchant. "So many of the songs morphed through the process," says Shankar. "We'd let something sit, and then three months later we would completely change what we had before."
"But it wasn't just about being in different cities, it was about being in different environments," Kale goes on. "In Encinitas we were excluded from any kind of cosmopolitan vibes. We were just out there on a horse farm in a beautiful studio, so we had nothing around us to influence the sound except for that environment. And then going to Bombay was a complete change. Once the music had been written, it was just about spending a lot of time on the details."
Produced by the pair plus mutual friend Gaurav Raina of the Indian electronica duo MIDIval PunditZ, Breathing Under Water is a bold step forward for both musicians. Part of what made it "fun," as Shankar puts it, was that each would cross over onto the other's usual turf. Kale: "Usually when I work with Indian musicians, they're great at playing Indian music, but they're not gonna help me write a killer bass line, whereas with Anoushka, there was no limit to where we were involved. Half the songs were Indian melodies that I came up with and then she had more of an electronic sthetic to add to that idea. And the other half of the record I was playing acoustic guitar and she would come up with lines or chord progressions. From there they would become songs and we'd start writing lyrics together. We were able to push each other in different directions. We put everything on the table and let each other rearrange it. Anoushka and I were able to make a mess of things and then take it to Gaurav and Salim and they would make sense of it."
In addition to Sting, a friend to both Shankar and Kale, two other A-list guests appear on Breathing Under Water: Norah Jones, who's two years older than Anoushka, and their dad, Ravi Shankar, who was 61 when Anoushka was born. Jones plays piano and sings on "Easy," which marks the first time the two women --- who did not grow up under the same roof and have become close only as adults --- have recorded together.
"Once Sting was on there," says Shankar, "it was, okay, well, I always wanted to work with my sister. Why not try it this time? I suggested a little melody I had played around with for a couple of years, very absent-mindedly. She ended up liking it. Then Karsh came in and was able to bind that together by laying down the chord structures that she could work with."
The maestro, meanwhile, is featured on the album's most classically oriented tracks, the two parts of "Oceanic." For Kale, the opportunity to work with Ravi Shankar, "a god to me growing up, was such an incredible blessing. Not just to us as artists but to the fact that he believes in the future of this music."
"He doesn't really do guest appearances," adds Shankar. "So to have him play on the record, it really means a lot and says a lot."
"Every single person we worked with on this record really brought something to it," says Kale. "There was never a feeling that somebody was just coming down to do a session. Everybody involved knew that something special was happening."http://thephoenix.com/Article.aspx?id=50123&page=1
Slave to excellence
Listening to a concert featuring Ravi Shankar and his daughter Anoushka in New York's Carnegie Hall, Anjali Sharma was lost in thought about her meteoric rise to fame
The legendary sitar player Ravi Shankar and his daughter Anoushka recently performed at the Carnegie Hall and captivated the audience for hours. He has been a pioneer in disseminating India's rich classical music tradition in the West and he continues to set new standards for young musicians.
Other known Indian musicians who performed were Tanmay Bose (tabla), Ravichandra Kulur (flute) and Kenjo (tanpura) from Japan.
The first half of the programme was conducted by Anoushka with Ektall
and Ada Chautal, accompanied by Bose, Kulur and Kenjo. The spotlight
shifted to the maestro in the second half. He was accompanied by
Anoushka on sitar, Bose on tabla and Kulur on flute. He performed the
Anoushka, who was born in London, was inspired by her mother Sukanya
Shankar to play the sitar. At the age of eight she started taking
lessons on a custom-made sitar.
The 26-year-old has already released five albums, the latest being
Breathing Under Water, which features Sting and Norah Jones, her half
sister, as guest artistes. She collaborates with the dynamic
multi-instrumentalist Karsh Kale on a selection of songs that
effortlessly fuse the traditions of Indian music with cutting-edge
electronic sounds, rock, and much more, to create something original.
When the father-daughter duo take the stage, it's difficult to predict what's in store for the audience. The elements of legacy and destiny are important to her. She is equally respectful of both, but bound to neither. Her ever-growing audience cannot help but acknowledge the familial roots of the young woman coaxing spellbinding spiritual sounds from her sitar, but neither can one deny that she is an innovator in her own right. It is talent alone that keeps her going.
Anoushka has studied Indian classical music from the maestro and has, over the years, built up a strong following. "The younger Shankar revealed herself to be a remarkably promising sitarist," declared a critic in New York's Time Out magazine in 1997 and a few years later Dubai's Gulf News Panorama noted, "She has accomplished far more than many musicians would do in a lifetime".
She made her recording debut at the age of 13 appearing on the album In Celebration, a tribute to the works of Ravi Shankar. Two years later she made her debut as conductor on her father's Chants of India, produced by a close family friend, the late George Harrison.
Anoushka's 1998 solo debut, Anoushka, established the musician. "That album is a lasting testament to my father's style and the beauty of it," she says. That same year, the British Parliament awarded her with a House of Commons Shield, making her both the youngest and the first female recipient of the honour.
Anourag released in 2000, her sophomore effort, expanded upon and refined what she had offered on her debut, while 2001's Live at Carnegie Hall established her in the international arena, garnering her a Grammy nomination.
She did not release any new recordings under her own name for the next four years. In 2002 at the historic Concert for George, a tribute to the late George Harrison in London, she conducted a new composition of Ravi Shankar, Arpan, which featured a guitar solo by Eric Clapton. She also performed Harrison's The Inner Light.
That same year she released her book ~ Bapi: The Love of my Life, an intimate biographical portrait of her father's exceptional journey, as well as a BBC-produced telecast documentary, Anoushka Shankar: Sitar Trek, a 30-minute glimpse of life on the road with the emerging queen of the sitar.
In 2004, she earned a best supporting actress nomination from India's National Film Awards for her debut role in Dance Like a Man, a film by the Delhi-based director Pamela Rooks. Also in 2004, leaving no doubt that her impact was being felt around the world, she was chosen as one of 20 Asian Heroes by the Asia edition of Time magazine.
In 2005 she released her fourth, and most ambitious, album, Rise (Angel
Records). Anoushka had recorded and performed primarily as a soloist,
interpreting the music of her father.
Anoushka loves performing in the Indian classical realm and continues
to work closely with her father and Rise was all about finding her
musical voice. On the album she fused notes from the East and West
using both acoustic and electric instrumentation. It received glowing
reviews everywhere and gave Anoushka another Grammy nomination in the
Best Contemporary World Music category.
She also became the first Indian to play at the Grammy Awards when she performed a piece from the CD at the pre-telecast ceremony in February 2006. In August 2007 Anoushka's fifth record, Breathing Under Water, was released to critical acclaim.
She expanded her vision as a producer, pianist, composer, and lyricist with Breathing Under Water. The album is carefully constructed and composed, boasting some of the finest guest artists on the order of her father, Ravi Shankar, who created the nucleus of two climatic pieces for the album, plus her good friend Sting and her sister, Norah Jones, as well as some of the finest artists around today.
She toured US cities following the release of Breathing Under Water, working with a band and expanding on the concepts she had brought to the album.
Those who have witnessed her rise over the years are not surprised with the result. She was meant to be among the best.
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