Sitar Virtuoso Anoushka Shankar Honors Women Lost to Global Crisis of Sexual Violence with New Single & Video “In Her Name”

Shankar Commemorates the 10th Anniversary of the Gang Rape of Jyoti Singh in Delhi, India in 2012

London, England — Friday, December 16, 2022 — Acclaimed sitar virtuoso, producer, film composer, and activist Anoushka Shankar releases today a new single, “In Her Name” (LEITER/December 16, 2022), featuring words by the renowned British-Indian poet, writer, playwright, and illustrator Nikita Gill. Shankar brings urgent attention to the ongoing global crisis of violence and sexual violence against women with the release of “In Her Name” and commemorates 10 years since the terrible incident which initially inspired it, the 2012 gang rape in Delhi of Jyoti Singh, who died from her injuries 13 days later. The release of “In Her Name” coincides with Shankar’s first tour of India since the pandemic, when she will unveil the new song live for the first time at distinguished concert halls in Bangalore (Dec. 11), Mumbai (Dec. 16), and Delhi (Dec. 18). 

Shankar releases “In Her Name” following her being the recipient of two new GRAMMY Awardnominations in the “Best Global Album” category for her live album Between Us… (featuring Manu DelagoJules Buckley, and the Metropole Orkest) and “Best Global Performance” category for her collaboration with Arooj Aftab, “Udhero Na,” from the Deluxe Edition of the Pakistani singer and composer’s Vulture Prince. Shankar was the first artist of Indian origin to perform at the GRAMMYs (2005) and the first Indian woman ever nominated; she has received a staggering total of nine GRAMMY Award nominations over the course of her illustrious career. In 2013, Shankar and her sister Norah Jonesboth accepted the Recording Academy’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” for their late father the legendary Ravi Shankar at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards (2013). In 2021, Shankar performed for a second time at the Premiere Ceremony for the 63rd GRAMMY Awards.

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Sitar Virtuoso Anoushka Shankar Honors Women Lost to Global Crisis of Sexual Violence with New Single & Video "In Her Name"

“In Her Name”

Touted as an Asian Hero by TIME magazine, Anoushka Shankar aligns visionary artistic pursuits with her impassioned fight for women’s rights and social justice. “In Her Name” is a newly recorded — and substantially developed — version of a track originally released in 2013 as “In Jyoti’s Name,” included on Shankar’s Traces Of You album. The new title reflects its significantly expanded horizons and acknowledges how little has changed in the decade since the atrocity that first provoked the song as well as headlines across the world. Six months afterwards, in July 2013, the United Nations estimated that one in three women would be beaten or raped in her lifetime. Almost 10 years on, that harrowing figure remains constant. “In Her Name” now bears witness to the global ubiquity of violence and sexual violence against women, the policing of women’s bodies, and the increasing erosion of women’s rights in more insidious but no less dangerous manners throughout the world.

“One of the reasons I’ve come back to this song,” Shankar says, “is because of this endless wave of horrifying story after horrifying story, and each time there’s this wave of pain and grief: ‘When is it going to stop? When is enough enough?’ What happened to Jyoti should have been the last time anything like that ever happened. The song was about her, but now it’s also about everyone else like her.

This, sadly, is a theme acutely close to Shankar’s heart. In 2013, in the wake of Jyoti’s tragic death, she recorded a message of support for One Billion Rising, a campaign whose very name highlights the number of women who will suffer sexual violence in their lifetime. The organisation’s founder, V (formerly known as Eve Ensler), asked her to tape a gesture of solidarity, and in her video, Shankar chose to reveal that she, too, is a victim of abuse. “There’s been a real change over the last decade,” she explains of her decision to open up, “but at that time there were very few people talking about this, especially where I come from. So, it felt important to universalise it, to say it’s not a one-off, it’s not only in a certain demographic, to say that ‘If I’m not safe, no one’s safe’.”

This time, Shankar turned to Nikita Gill to help articulate her feelings, inviting her to contribute a text for the song’s middle section which could communicate the all-encompassing nature of this ongoing threat. “She’s like a sister to me,” Shankar confides. “She’s one of the people I would have wept on the phone to when, for example, Sarah Everard died. She speaks from a very particular place culturally, as a modern, female, Indian-heritage poet, and that chimes with me, while sisterhood is also a very strong theme in her work. It was a very natural, obvious connection, and when I said ‘Would you please write something?’ she didn’t even wait for me to finish my sentence.”

Shankar delivers Gill’s lines in calm, collected fashion during a meditative musical passage midway through the song, enabling these powerful sentiments to strike with more force before its ultimate climax. “Let our fury echo through the pages of history,” she recites firmly. “Do not let this death be quiet like all the thousands before it. Time cannot devour what we will not allow to be forgotten.” Her accompaniment, meanwhile, conveys her anger in a similarly eloquent manner, especially in its repeated, syncopated phrases. “There are different stages to the song,” Shankar elaborates, “but, though it’s not overtly raging, fury is a driving factor. Anger can often be stifled, especially in women, and yet it’s such a propelling force, a fire that generates an energy to create change, especially that feeling of collective fury that starts in my belly, that I feel in other women’s bellies too.”

When it came to the song’s artwork and video, Shankar chose further collaborators with whom she shares her cultural heritage and artistic sensibilities. Indian contemporary artist Shilo Shiv Suleyman, who co-founded the activist art group Fearless Collective in 2012, is responsible for the cover image and bronze sculptures in the remarkable video, which was filmed in London and Los Angeles and features Indian-American Bharatanatyam dancer Mythili Prakash

Shankar recorded “In Her Name” this autumn at London’s Guildhall, with regular collaborators Pirashanna Thevarajah adding mridangam, the south Indian double-headed drum, and Tom Farmer on bass. The track represents the first studio music from Shankar since 2020’s Love Letters.

“Marking 10 years is very personal,” Shankar concludes. “My life changed, indirectly but profoundly, as a result of what happened to Jyoti. She was the catalyst for me telling my story, setting me on a different tangent, publicly and privately. But this is more than that: it’s a remembrance. It’s about not forgetting, and about hope for change. Every time there’s a news cycle we talk about these stories, then put them down again, but change comes from truly remembering, and I am unwilling to ever let this go quiet again…”

"It goes without saying that Anoushka Shankar is a virtuoso sitar player." -Guardian

 

"She's making her own unique mark on the world." -Harper's Bazaar

 

"Expect to be thoroughly intoxicated." -Time Out New York

"Marking 10 years is very personal," Shankar concludes. "My life changed, indirectly but profoundly, as a result of what happened to Jyoti. She was the catalyst for me telling my story, setting me on a different tangent, publicly and privately. But this is more than that: it's a remembrance. It's about not forgetting, and about hope for change. Every time there's a news cycle we talk about these stories, then put them down again, but change comes from truly remembering, and I am unwilling to ever let this go quiet again..."

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