Anoushka Shankar’s blazing path in music, which has taken her out of her famous father’s shadow, has not gone to her head. Even now, she is intent on creating music that springs from her inner truths and will resonate with her audience.
This is clearly visible with Land of Gold, written in response to the refugee crisis and still relevant today, and whose tour brings the talented sitarist and her quartet to Mauritian shores. But it is not only about using her voice as an artist, says Shankar. “I do more of that in my own life as a person, with my voting and my politics and the things that I do outside of music,” says the composer. “I think it is about more of us doing what we can.” The Land of Gold tour has helped raise funds for non-profit organisations working with refugees.
“Speaking is a very huge and important part of creating change. So is listening,” she says with a candid smile during a Skype interview. In the wake of the gang-rape of an Indian female student in New Delhi, Shankar joined the One Billion Rising campaign in 2013. Talking openly about being sexually and emotionally abused as a child by a family friend. The brutal assault and murder of Jyoti Singh, who died subsequently, and the vocal outrage that followed “created an environment” where more people were talking about sexual violence, in India and elsewhere, and – Shankar believes – has led to the #MeToo movement. “So yes, I do think that there can be small ripples that can create big waves of change.”
Change also came to her in the form of motherhood. “Music became less important suddenly” as her priorities changed. Shankar’s opting for less touring now, she says, so she can be “responsive to the kids, really”. Parenting hasn’t thwarted her creativity, though, but made her “a lot freer”.
Being a mother to two sons has also changed her outlook on the world. “It makes me care about things in a different way because I care about my children.”
Anoushka Shankar and her band will be giving a unique concert on the 26th of September at the Trianon Convention Centre. Tickets are available at www.monticket.mu