Sunday, June 22, 2008

Easy - Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones

(sorry the song cuts off)

This song got me really choked up the first time I heard it. I had been inspired by Kim's post to look up more Anoushka Shankar videos and found this - a musical collaboration between Anoushka and her half sister Norah Jones.

Like most people, I heard about Norah Jones because of her own music and not because of her relationship to her world famous father Ravi Shankar. From what I understand, that's the way she wanted it - she wanted to find her way in the musical world on her own steam and she has (getting so many Grammy awards in one night that she dropped one while attempting to balance them all in her arms). She didn't even find out that Ravi Shankar was her father until she was ten years old. And apparantly she didn't reestablish contact with her father (and her sister Anoushka) until about five years ago.

The two sisters have grown up in very different musical contexts and disciplines. Norah grew up in Dallas with her mother, working as a waitress and playing piano bar gigs. Anoushka grew up in London and California and visited India a few times a year. She started playing the sitar when she was 8 and became her father's pupil. Since he's the best in the world, that'd make following in his footsteps quite a task and Anoushka has strode into her musical life at that pace.

(I love Anoushka's head shaking appreciation of single notes as Ravi plays)

The bit that I trip over is the notion of being gifted a sister in your mid 20's! Thinking of my own sister, Becca and how many combinations of different and similar our personalities and artistic choices are, I am amazed at the prospect of starting a relationship with a sister after so many of the important choices of one's life have already been made. I would definitely be a different version of me without Becca in my history. So to come to terms with family rifts and cultural differences and God knows what else after years of separation, that'd be quite an adventure.

So when I hear this song, I hear these two amazing women playing and singing in relation to one another and am very moved by their choice to make harmonies of their different experiences - and I'm awed by all of the personal and professional logistics that were surely danced through to make it so. If it were me in either of their shoes, I'd get the hugest kick out of it. I'd feel proud and blessed that our music, though vastly different in so many ways was still connected by blood and that our wills could manifest that connection musically when we work together.

Shankar himself is delighted at the reconciliation of his daughters. "It is wonderful," he said. "It's a great feeling. I feel very happy about it. Norah was my first daughter and I missed out on eight years of her life so it is wonderful to have her back. "They have so much in common it is mind-boggling, really . In their looks, in their behavior, in the way they are so quick-witted. They are so fantastic together."

1 comment:

Desi Blogger said...

Great post always wondered about that dynamic and if there was resentment between them. It looks like they both have been true visionaries in their respective genres.

Would love to see both of them live. And anushka also has a pop side to her that she lets some of her DJ friends sample.

Anyway great post. Thanks