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Anoushka Shankar’s refugee album vies for world music Grammy

Anoushka Shankar has been nominated for Land of Gold

By: Eastern Eye Staff

Sitarist Anoushka Shankar was nominated for a Grammy Award on Tuesday (December 6) for her album inspired by the global refugee crisis, vying with veteran winners in the world music category.

Land of Gold, which features rapper M.I.A. and spoken word by actress Vanessa Redgrave, is in the running for Best World Music Album at the music industry’s gala in Los Angeles on February 12.

Shankar wrote the album as she reflected on her relative comfort after giving birth to her second child just as a historic number of people fled Syria and other war-torn countries for Europe.

“Music is for me at least a way of responding to the world and processing my feelings, not always consciously,” she said after releasing the album, which is largely instrumental.

It is the sixth Grammy nomination for the 35-year-old Shankar, although she has never won. Her late father Ravi Shankar, who popularised the Indian classical instrument in the west, won two Grammys on his own and two more in collaborations.

Asked if it was disheartening not to win despite multiple nominations, Shankar admitted: “There are certain layers to it. On an ego level, it’s nice to be recognised, so I’m sure it would be nice to win. But life is the same whether you win an award or not.

“Your music remains same, the album doesn’t change. So, what really matters is the work.”

Over the years, Sharma has collaborated with many national and international artists, including her half-sister and nine-time Grammy-winner Norah Jones.

Jones is known as one of the best jazz singers in the world, with hits such as Come Away With Me, Sunrise, Thinking About You and Don’t Know Why.

Talking about any sibling rivalry, Shankar said: “Our goals are very different from each other. She has no desire to play sitar and I have no desire to sing. And we happen to be sisters so our relationship is about sisterhood and our private life and not music.”

The Grammy category for world music, long dominated by a small group of artists, this year has one fresh name – Celtic Woman.

The prolific all-woman Irish ensemble, which brings New Age elements to traditional Celtic music, was nominated for Destiny.

Two legendary Brazilian songwriters and political activists, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, were nominated for a live double album.

Dois Amigos, Um Seculo de Musica was recorded in Sao Paulo last year as the two septuagenarian artists went on a world tour.

Gil has won two Grammys previously, while Veloso has won one on his own.

Other nominees included cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who has raked in an impressive 17 Grammys over his career but never in the world music category.

Yo-Yo Ma was nominated for Sing Me Home, the French-born Chinese American’s latest album with his evolving Silk Road Ensemble that explores music from across the historical Silk Road that connected Eurasia.

The South African all-male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which has won four Grammys, was nominated for its latest album Walking in the Footsteps of Our Fathers.

Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo, one of Africa’s leading artists, won the award the past two years but did not have a new album eligible for contention.

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