Ravi Shankar's other spectacular daughter

Anoushka Shankar

By now we're all familiar, and rightly so, with Norah Jones. Song like Don't Know Why don't just make a splash; they leave an impression… or tear stains or a scar. I suppose most know, though some may have missed, that Norah is a daughter of sitar legend and World Heritage Site Ravi Shankar.

Less known, but well worth knowing, is the master's other daughter, the splendid and prodigiously talented sitar player Anoushka Shankar. He was, of course, her instructor and chief inspiration. Here they are together, she the padawan to his Yoda, in a charming mock lesson that grows more and more difficult:

That's a delight because of the backstory, but here's a beautiful video of Anoushka rocking the sitar hard as she and the brilliant tabla percussionist Tanmoy Bose drive their instruments to a satisfying musical climax:

In addition to being an ambitiously pure exponent of classical Indian music, Anoushka also aims her inquisitive musical creativity at various kinds of fusion. Thinking a gentle sitar/torchpop fusion featuring Anoushka and Norah would be the best thing ever? Ça existe! Here's the track Easy from Anoushka's album Breathing Underwater:

Soft and evocative.

Seeking to make good on a lifelong fascination, Anoushka fuses Indian with Flamenco on her latest album, Traveller (interview, Amazon). The result is rhythmically magnificent:

This is the work not only of skilled hands and performative savvy, but of a mind engaged deeply in the pursuit of that place where mastery, improvisation, calculation, and celebration converge. In the following brief interview, Anoushka provides a number of wonderful insights into this sort of creativity:



Last 5 posts by David Byron


  1. says

    Not to minimize Norah's contributions, but Anoushka has always been my favorite. Songs with lyrics can create unwanted emotion, but the sitar is always the warming, energizing, background hum of the cosmos. :)

  2. Adrian Ratnapala says

    M. I would put it a different way. Whenever I listen to Norah, I feel I have to sit and listen to the words. With classical music, of any kind, I don't have to pay attention.

    You will see I am not exactly a music fan…

  3. Kelly says

    She is wonderful! I ran across her music when I was doing a presentation on music for one of my anthropology classes. I actually like her a bit better than Norah, honestly.

    M- I agree about the sitar. The djembe is the same for me as well. I can't ever put my finger on exactly what it is about them that makes me feel that way either.

  4. Jonnelle says

    I had no idea Norah Jones was Ravi Shankar's daughter. That would be my one thing I learned today – now I can go back to bed :)

    I've been a fan of both Norah and Anoushka for years. It was wonderful to listen to this morning!

  5. darius404 says

    sitar legend and World Heritage Site Ravi Shankar.

    Wow, I didn't know he was a World heritage Site. It's quite an accomplishment for a man to become a location.

  6. darius404 says

    Though not unheard of:

    River Tam: I'm not on the ship. I'm in the ship. I am the ship.

  7. darius404 says

    River Tam has superseded Obi-Wan and Yoda. Does that seem right to you?

    Yes. Hot young psychic/dancer/martial artist/genius/all-around prodigy beats old exiled martyr and old exiled alien any day.

  8. matthew says

    Of course exports from the Occident into India can also be quite good. I highly recommend listening to guitarist Mahavishnu John McLaughlin's Indian excursions with his group Shakti, which sound sort of like what Indian Classical music would sound like if it was organized more like American jazz (theme, solo, theme, repeat).


  9. says

    Came here because of The Oatmeal, which I found because of Darths and Droids (though I'd seen a few of his comics before). I've enjoyed reading the site and will continue to follow you, but this link to music that is new and wonderful will never be topped :) Thanks for posting about Anoushka.