How home training helped Anoushka Shankar to become legendary sitarist?

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Teaching begins at home, not at school. Yes, its very true and perfectly justified by a reputed family; Shankar’s.

Well! Here, we are talking about none other than a very talented Indian sitar player and composer; Anoushka Shankar. Being the daughter of Indian musician and composer; Pandit Ravi Shankar, she dived into the skill inherited by her father.

Who was behind Anoushka’s success?

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Anoushka Shankar, as we all know gained a huge popularity and numerous awards for her glorious talent.

Despite of enrolling her to a professional institute for sitar training, her father became ‘guru’ who not only trained her, but also gave a world known magnificent sitar player to us.

Her journey towards this success started when she was just seven years old little girl. And, now when she is 34, we can look over her dedication and father’s hard work that can inspire all those parents who are expertise at something and can gift another talent to the country in the face of their child.

Now, let’s have a glance over her journey that started in her early childhood.

A look onto her success journey:

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  • At the age of seven, she got her first training session of sitar from her father who always taught her like a professional. Slowly and steadily, she began accompanying her father by playing tanpura at various stage performances. As a kid, this is a pretty small age to perform with a professional sitar player, but overcoming all the challenges, she did well.
  • Being the only artist trained only by her father, she started soaking up music and gave her first public sitar performance at the age of 13.

On 27th February 1995, she gave this first solo debut at Siri Fort, New Delhi for her father’s 75th birthday celebration. Here, she was accompanied by tabla master; Zakir Hussain. The same year, she made her first experience in the recording studio for the first time, when Angel Records launched a beautiful four-CD box set; In Celebration that was dedicated to her father’s birthday.

  • Admiring her majestic talent and successful performance on stage at such an early stage, she was took by her father for accompanying him at various national and international concerts. She started spending much of her years with her father since the age of 14 and performed in Australia, Asia, North America and Europe as a sitarist.
  • George Harrison produced an album; Chants of India, when Anoushka was 15 and she assisted her father for the same. Not only this, with her father’s guidance, she became in charge of the notion and conducted the performers who were the members of that album.
  • Looking over her true dedication towards learning and performing, Angel Records approached her parents to sign her. So, at the age of 16, she signed her first exclusive recording contract with them.
  • Each performance and support of her father made her a champion. Resulting of this, she performed and championed the concert with Zubin Mehta and London Symphony Orchestra in 1997. In the following year, she released her first album, Anoushka in 1998 and Anourag in 2000.
  • In 1999, she graduated from high school with honors by maintaining a proper balance between academics and talent. However, she didn’t attended university for higher education, but decided to move forward as a solo artist.

In the same year, she was nominated for the third time for a Grammy award and became the youngest and first female to receive House of Commons Shield from British House of Parliament. Her father continued doing work for her that helped further in making composition for cello and sitar with reputed cellist at Evian Festival in 1999.

  • Being under continuous guidance of her father, she successfully made three classical sitar records for Angel Records before turning 20. Ultimately, she kept stepping forward and gained fame in the music world at a very young age.
  • In 2001, she launched another amazing album, Live at Carnegie Hall for which she got the nomination under the category “Best World Music Album”. Later in 2002, she accompanied her father for Mood Circle at World Economic Forum, New York that included the composition for sitar and cello.
  • She continued with getting nominated for various awards for her talent and superb performances. With her continuous training under father, she established herself well in Indian classical music.
  • The guidance also helped experimenting a fertile crossover mix of Western and Indian musical styles. Her hard work helped her to release Rise which was self composed, self produced and again Grammy nominated. Following this, her another innovation was Breathing Under Water. There were many more CD launches for which she appeared.

This is how, she continued stepping each stone of success with her father’s incredible support and guidance.

Anoushka as Actor and Writer:

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  • Her talent was not limited to music, instead she also emerged as an actress for a movie, ‘Dance Like a Man’. in 2004.
  • She was so inspired with her father that she flaunted her talent of writing and launched, Bapi: The Love of My Life, which is a biography of her father, Pandit Ravi Shankar.
  • There were many more books written and launched by her. Additionally, for three years, she wrote monthly columns for India’s ‘First City Magazine’.
  • She dedicated one year to India’s popular and largest newspaper, ‘The Hindustan Times’.

A few more achievements:

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Akin to other kids, Anoushka also suffered tough situations. She even underwent child abuse. But, with excellent support of her parents, she fought and overcome every circumstances. She continued her training and performing with father resulting of which she got a renowned name as a sitar player.

The amazing thing about her was that she always attempted to earn her own identity, instead of using her father’s popularity and fame.

Anoushka signed a reputed record label, Deutsche Grammophon and performed as an exclusive artist in 2011. This helped her to begin an era of prolific recording and creativity and within this period, she also refined the sitar sound and amazing musical ideas for which she gained an expertise and popularity.

After receiving Grammy Awards for Live at Carnegie Hall and Rise in 2003 and 2005 respectively, she again bagged another Grammy Award for Traveller in 2013. This album was an unique exploration of shared history between Indian classical music and flamenco. Not only this, she performed for hundred of concerts for Traveller.

Unfortunately, she lost her father in December 2012, but she didn’t stopped her journey as a famous sitarist.

Instead she launched Traces of You in 2013 after passing of her father and the good news is, she gained another Grammy Nomination for the same. Further she recorded Home in October 2014, her first classical album of Indian Ragas in newly built home studio.

Recently, she collaborated with Herbie Hancock for her latest record and album.

Lesson from her success:

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Shankar’s family including Anoushka Shankar and Ravi Shankar sets a best example and gives a lesson that it is not necessary to attend any professional training institute or course for becoming an expertise.

Usually, parents ignore the talent of their kids and force them to follow usual educational traditions. And, if Pandit Ravi Shankar had not admired her excellence and not asked her to accompany him, she would have never polished her skills like she did.

Thus, parent’s hard work, support and inherited skills can be the perfect package for a kid that can even turn him/her into a legend of a particular skill.

Anoushka’s success can be an inspiration for all those kids and parents who either have lack of resources in their city or cannot afford to send their child for such training sessions, but have unique skills or talent.

YoGems is also one of the platforms that has taken initiative for the children where they participate, perform and get maximum exposure of their talent.



Nikita Kashyap is associated with YoGems.She is expert at writing Blogs,Articles on Dancing.You can follow her at Twitter to get updated with her post.