Sister-in-law to sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, mother-in-law to renowned violinist Dr. L Subramaniam, Lakshmi Shankar is a vocalist known for her performances of Khayal, Thumri, and Bhajans. Born June 16, 1926 into a South-Indian Brahmin family, Lakshmi Shankar initially started her career in dancing.
In 1939, when Ravi Shankar’s elder brother, Uday Shankar brought his dance troupe to Madras, she decided to join his Almora Dance Centre to learn Uday Shankar’s original style of dance based on the Indian classics and became a part of his troupe. That is when her association to the Shankar family began. She married Rajendra Shankar (Raju), an younger brother of Uday Shankar (elder to Ravi Shankar).
Although she had an early background in dance and the Carnatic music of South India, her initial vocal training was in the North Indian Patiala Gharana style of Hindustani music. After a period of illness during which she had to give up dancing, and already having had a background of Carnatic music, she moved to Hindustani classical music and trained rigorously for many years under Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan. Later, she also trained with Pandit Ravi Shankar, whom she has assisted on many of his projects.
She has recorded widely in varying capacities and styles including Tamil folk songs, Hindu devotional songs of all sorts, film work (including Sir Richard Attenborough‘s Academy Award winning film Gandhi) and for television documentaries. She has toured the world and has worked with the greats such as Uday Shankar, Ravi Shankar, and George Harrison.
To this day, a dancer’s sensibility continues to shine through her vocal performances, in the keen rhythmic vitality of her improvisations and in the sheer robustness of the ornaments and slides with which she graces her melodies.
Puriya Dhanashri : (Download)
Thumri Manj Khamaj : (Download)
Meera Bhajan (Pag Ghunghru) : (Download)
The thrill of her rich, melodious voice, her sense of balance and the emotional range of her singing are some of the traits that make her one of the most prized Indian vocalists of the last fifty years. Lakshmi Shankar was also among the first to popularize Indian vocal music in the West.