Anoushka Shankar on her album Love Letters Grammy nomination: I jumped around with my kids a little
Anoushka Shankar had just sat down for dinner with her kids, Zubin (9) and Mohan (5) when 63rd Annual Grammy Awards nominations were announced. Until her “phone went crazy” with calls and messages, the sitar virtuoso was unaware that her album Love Letters booked a spot in the Best Global Music Album category.
“I first called my co-producer on the album Alev Lenz (German musician) because she was there with me since the beginning. Then I called my friend Priya Darshini for her first Grammy nomination this year. And of course I was jumping around with my kids a little bit and texted my mum. My kids gave me five minutes to be excited and then we were back to our normal stuff,” she shares.
Love Letters comprising six tracks is inspired from Shankar’s personal life, desire, heartbreak and pain after her separation from filmmaker Joe Wright in 2018. Given the appreciation the album has been receiving and now this nomination, it seems the songs have found the emotions of ‘love and joy’ they were seeking, much like the artiste herself.
“As an artiste even when we go through painful things and we create music that connects with other people, it’s sort of a healing process. It’s like a beautiful alchemy that feels wonderful. Sometimes when it’s the most personal it can be the most universal because though we’ve our own experiences but we still connect through emotions. That’s an universal experience. When I was making those songs I was stressed because I was baring something close to me. But when they were done I started viewing them as my work.”
The album is also about representation of women in the field as Shankar, 39, consciously brought in more female hands and minds to work on it. “I wanted to be more active about gender representation and about 75% of the work has been done by women. It kind of felt correct at a time when often most males are hired first for various departments,” adds the artiste, who is busy with her next album and humanitarian work.
This is Shankar’s seventh Grammy nomination. So how essential are such recognitions? “It’s tricky because awards and nominations doesn’t change the type of artiste that you are fundamentally. It’s like a recognisable degree that people can understand ‘oh alright she’s a Grammy nominated artiste; and it does expose artistes to more work, gives confidence. So it can be helpful professionally, but artistically it doesn’t make you better than what you were before.”
And how does winning matter to her? “I don’t know I’ve never won. Each time when you’re nominated you’ve 20% chances of winning and it doesn’t become a higher percentage next time and it’s also not like I deserve it any more than the other four albums in the category. Being recognised as one the top five among many itself feels wonderful. If I didn’t win, it’ll be disappointing. But I try to not getting attached to winning or losing.”
To aspiring artistes who get affected by winning or losing easily, Shankar advises, “We’ve to just stay focused to our work. Getting a big professional accolade do make a professional difference but at the same time it’s not mathematics, it’s not athletics. It’s not that you can measure if someone ran point 06 seconds faster than somebody else. Some of the best films ever been made never got Oscars, some of the best actors never got Oscars, some of the best artistes never got Grammys. It doesn’t ultimately mean that you’re better or worse at your work.”
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Author tweets @Shreya_MJ
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