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Influences: Sitar player (and daughter) Anoushka Shankar

April 13, 2011 |  4:01 pm

Shankar_Anoushka (c) PamelaSpringsteen Anoushka Shankar, 29, is a sitar player and composer who grew up in London and Dehli. Daughter of sitar legend Ravi Shankar and half-sister to singer Norah Jones, Shankar became, in 2003, the youngest-ever woman nominated for a world music Grammy.

Shankar’s music begins in the classical tradition of a Hindustani instrument thought to date back to the Middle Ages, but she often cuts her sound with rock and electronica: She’s collaborated with Sting, Thievery Corporation, Herbie Hancock and Rostropovich. In 2002 she performed at a London concert in honor of George Harrison, in emulation of the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh organized by her father and the sitar-playing Beatle who helped expose the instrument to the English speaking world.

Shankar is married to Joe Wright, the English director of the films “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement”; the two just had a son in February. She was to appear at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Tuesday as part of “Ravi Shankar: 90th Birthday Celebration With Anoushka Shankar,” but now the concert has been postponed until Sept. 29.

Here she talks about the eclectic array of artists who’ve inspired her life and work.
Ravi Shankar (sitarist/composer): I know he seems an obvious choice, but the fact is no artist has influenced my work as my father has. Having taught me from my very first day playing the sitar, he's shaped my technique, style and sound. His virtuosity, creative genius and the luminous spirituality he brings to his playing are unmatched. At 91 years old, still playing and performing, he remains my greatest inspiration.

Paco de Lucia (guitarist): Like my father, Paco is considered the grandmaster of his genre and is largely responsible for the global popularity of flamenco music today. As a string player I'm very inspired by his technique. And my love of flamenco grew, so much so that last year I went to Spain to study the style, and ended up making an album which explores the great traditions of Spain and India, which will release later this year.

Salman Rushdie (writer): There were passages in his book “Midnight's Children” that went to the core of life issues that I was confounded by as a teenager, and did so with such passion and wisdom that I was blown away. Art is meant to whisper the secrets of the universe in our ears, and when I find that music in any genre, my soul is soothed.

Mark Rothko (painter): In the Indian spiritual tradition, each chakra, or energy center, has a corresponding color, mantra and symbol, and is connected to various aspects of our emotions, health, fears and states of consciousness. Meditating on aspects of the chakras can affect and elevate us. Rothko uses color in such a pure and sometimes startling way, and when I contemplate one of his works I feel my being is subtly but deeply affected.

Joe Wright (director): Based on the extraordinary beauty and poetry of his film “Atonement,” I canceled plans one night to accept an invitation to a dinner I knew Joe was attending, as I was so intrigued to meet the man responsible for such work. Two years later, I have just borne him our first child. I can't think of art affecting anyone any more than that.


Cabaret Singer Justin Bond

Soprano Renée Fleming

Broadway star and Tony winner Lea Salonga

Broadway maven Seth Rudetsky

Michael Feinstein, interpreter of the Great American Songbook

-- Scott Timberg