Role Models for My Daughters: Anoushka Shankar


I try to play classical music for my daughter at least once a week (when I am home and while she’s awake anyway). I am not sure if this truly improves her brain wiring or not, but at the very least it’s relaxing and enjoyable for me too. Most of the classical music I play for her is Indian classical music, and I turn to my “Anoushka Shankar” station on Pandora for a steady stream of her beautiful melodies.

Anoushka Shankar is the daughter of the late Ravi Shankar, a musical legend who influenced the world and many musicians including The Beatles. You might also know that Anoushka’s half sister is Norah Jones; clearly, music in their genes! They have even collaborated on a few songs together. Anoushka was trained by her father starting at the age of nine. She was nominated for five Grammy Awards since the age of 20, and she was the first Indian to perform at the Grammy Awards. She has three acclaimed albums and earned several more Grammy nominations for her work.

Aside from her amazing musical talent, Anoushka has been devoted to women’s issues and spoke out about her own experience of sexual abuse after the  brutal murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey in 2010. She was a major voice behind the One Billion Rising campaign. She has also worked to promote gender equality and organized a call-to-action in light of the ongoing European refugee crisis. Her newest album, Land of Gold,  is a “response to the humanitarian trauma of displaced people fleeing conflict and poverty.”

Sometimes when I need to be moved by a deeply beautiful experience, I simply go to YouTube and watch an Anoushka performance. The music truly takes you to a different place, and her love of her craft is so apparent. It is truly something to admire. As my husband knows, my not-so-secret wish is that my daughter will learn the sitar.

She will be performing in Washington, D.C. in April 2017 and I am going to try my darnedest (sp?) to make that happen. Although my daughter won’t be old enough to appreciate this show, hopefully I’ll have another chance to take her to see Anoushka Shankar perform when she is older. She is a role model not just for her dedication to her music, but also because of her life experiences and courage in speaking out against social injustice and gender inequality.

Here are two of my favorites:


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