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Anoushka Shankar’s musical roots run deep, but she is paving her own way on and off stage

It’s not surprising that Anoushka Shankar’s music is so diverse. The sitar virtuoso is the daughter of the late legendary sitar player Ravi Shankar and combines Indian classical traditional with progressive world music.

Shankar, 37, was born in London, where she split time between England and Delhi, India. She relocated to San Diego as a teenager.

“It’s been a fascinating life,” Shankar says while calling from her London home. “Because of what I’ve experienced, I grew up with an open mind to everything, not just music. How many people come of age in three different countries? It’s a unique experience that has had a profound impact on my creativity.”

Shankar’s music floats from classical to world to jazz to electronic. “Every style of music fascinates me,” Shankar says. “I think everyone would be fascinated by music if they open themselves up to it.”

When Shankar performs March 21 at the Carolina Theatre as part of Duke Performances, expect an evening of classical crossover.

“It’ll be a multi-cultural sound,” Shankar says. “I’ll be taking you in a number of different directions with my sitar.”

She is touring to support her new compilation album, “Reflections,” which was released March 8. The album, according to a news release, pays tribute to her father and presents a “cross-cultural dialogue with progressive collaborators,” including her half-sister, Grammy-winning Norah Jones, as well as Vanessa Redgrave.

Even though Shankar’s father is regarded as the greatest sitar player ever, Anoushka Shankar said she never wrote with him or discussed her music often with him.

“What my father achieved was inspiring,” Shankar says. “His music moves me, but I steered clear of the obvious with him and music because I wanted to find my own way.”

Shankar has indeed carved her own path through music and humanitarian efforts. Shankar has spoken out against sexual violence, human trafficking, gender inequality and the refugee crisis.

Her Grammy-nominated album in 2016, “Land of Gold,” explores those issues. “We have to do the right thing,” Shankar says. “It’s our obligation as humans. I’ll fight for what’s right, and sometimes that fight ends up on my albums.”

Shankar has performed with a disparate group of prominent recording artists, which range from rocker Sting to provocateur M.I.A, to Mexican classical guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, jazz legend Herbie Hancock and violinist and conductor Joshua Bell.

“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to interact with so many incredible musicians,” Shankar says. “They’re from all ends of the spectrum. I love the challenge of playing different styles and with some unique talents.”

But the one who stands out, she said, was her father, who died seven years ago. In 2002 Shankar wrote a biography of her father, “Bapi: the Love of My Life.”

“It was so wonderful looking back at the incredibly amazing life I had with him,” Shankar says. “He was a great father and teacher when it came to life. He enjoyed everything so much.”

Shankar writes on occasion with Jones, and she said the two are close. Jones has her own sound as a pop-jazz singer-songwriter, who has sold more than 50 million albums and has won nine Grammy awards.

“Norah is so gifted and unique,” Shankar says. “She’s so talented like my father.”

Jones plays a different instrument — piano — and didn’t take the family surname. “For me the family name is only a burden if you look at it as such,” Shankar says. “I’m proud that my last name is Shankar and that I play the sitar. I’m also proud and happy to play so many different styles of music. It makes things interesting.”


Who: Anoushka Shankar, presented by Duke Performances

When: 8 p.m. March 21

Where: Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St., Durham

Tickets: $45.

Info: 919-560-3030 or

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