RAVI SHANKAR: A LIFE IN MUSIC
The Grammy Museum, Los Angeles, CA
April 28, 2015
Writing and photography by TourBusLive.com
One of our greatest disappointments happened in 2012: We had the golden ticket. We bought fourth row seats at the Long Beach Terrace Theatre to see the incomparable musician RAVI SHANKAR play live. But we soon learned that he had to cancel the show due to illness and, when his make-up show in November came around, we were unable to go. That make-up show in November would be his last. Ravi Shankar died on December 11, 2012 at the age of 92. Sadly, we never got to see him play live.
So when The GRAMMY MUSEUM announced the debut of its latest exhibit, RAVI SHANKAR: A LIFE IN MUSIC, we knew we had to be there. And lucky for us, we were invited to visit the collection on the eve of its debut. And also lucky for us, this exhibit was the next best thing to actually seeing the “Godfather of World Music” in person.
Yes, Shankar’s life had an immeasurable impact on Western music – especially after his appearance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and then later at Woodstock in 1969. His infamous work with The Beatles clearly opened the eyes and ears of modern music lovers to the distinct sounds of Hindustani classical music. And during a career that spanned more than 70 years, his influence gained global respect.
Capturing moments in time from that long and prolific career, some of the items on display at The Grammy Museum include many of Ravi Shankar’s sitars, clothing worn on and off stage by Shankar, personal effects (watches, jewelry, etc.), wonderful photographs, awards, album covers, historic posters, and the most wonderful hand-written pages, including correspondence to and from the likes of Peter Sellers and George Harrison, and simple notes of inspiration that he jotted down through the years. The letters and notes were some of my favorite things in the exhibit.
As this is (surprisingly) the first U.S. exhibit honoring the life of RAVI SHANKAR, Grammy Museum curator Nwaka Onwusa worked hand-in-hand with Shankar’s family, especially with his widow, Sukanya Shankar – and the result was captivating.
To continue to honor Ravi Shankar and his ever-lasting influence on the next generation, the preview evening was officially opened with the showing of a very touching 20-minute video presentation about the life of Shankar, and was then capped off with a wonderful live performance by sitarists LAKSHAY MOHAN GUPTA and AAYUSH MOHAN GUPTA, ARUP CHATTOPADHYAY playing the tabla, and BARRY PHILLIPS on chikara and cello.
And even more special, Shankar’s widow Sukanya (lovingly holding their family dog) rose to the podium just after the music ended to thank everyone who came to see and share in the life of her husband Ravi.
Hats off to The Grammy Museum – India’s most famous and by far most esteemed musician has been beautifully honored in this one-of-a-kind exhibit.
Ravi Shankar: A Life in Music is on display at the Grammy Museum through Spring of 2016.
For ticket information, visit http://www.grammymuseum.org/
SPOTTED IN THE CROWD:
Beatles son Dhani Harrison attended the preview, along with notable sitar player Kenji Ota, family members, and even one delightful man who played on several of Shankar’s albums in the 70s – who joked about his youthful look and his bearded face on the cover of those albums hanging in the exhibit.