Six-time Grammy® Award-nominated sitarist, composer and producer Anoushka Shankar announces the release of her new single ‘Those Words’, featuring British composer, singer and cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson and renowned Indian singer Shilpa Rao. The track is taken from her upcoming EP, ‘Love Letters’, out on Mercury KX on 7th February.
Deeply evocative in its sound, ‘Those Words’, is based on an original poem written by Anoushka and Ayanna, which then inspired respected director and writer Shirin Anandita to write lyrics to the track in Punjabi. The track was mastered by Egyptian-born/New York based engineer Heba Kadry (Björk, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Beach House).
Speaking of the track, Anoushka says,
“It all started with Jamaican food. Ayanna came over with an open heart, a secret recipe and the seed of a new melody. She played me her cello idea and it felt incredibly instinctive to play my sitar melody over her progressions. Sometime later we wrote a poem together about memories, loss, and nostalgic words. Shirin then took our original poem and turned it into beautiful Punjabi lyrics of her own. Finally, Shilpa shared her beautiful voice with us as she brought those lyrics to life. I’m very attached to this sweet, sensual song and I’m so grateful to each of the women who helped to birth it.”
Hailed by the Guardian as a “virtuoso sitar player”, Anoushka truly pushes the boundaries of how the instrument is heard and perceived and “uses it as a vehicle for creativity” (Times). Her new EP, ‘Love Letters’ marks a different direction for the internationally celebrated artist; it offers a shift in intimacy and content, and comes at a pivotal time in her career as she signs to her new record label, Mercury KX.
‘Love Letters’ documents a time of profound flux for Anoushka: health issues, heartbreak, domestic upheaval –
“These were heavy shocks and challenges, things which pushed me into some very vulnerable places. I’ve written from a personal place before, of course, but there was something particularly tender and raw about the process this time,” she says.
A singular figure in the progressive world music scene, Anoushka’s dynamic and spiritual musicality has garnered several prestigious accolades, including six Grammy® Award nominations, recognition as the youngest – and first female – recipient of a British House of Commons Shield, and a Songlines Best Artist Award.
Besides performing as a solo sitarist, Anoushka’s compositional work has led to cross-cultural collaborations with artists such as Sting, M.I.A, Herbie Hancock, Pepe Habichuela, Karsh Kale, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Joshua Bell, demonstrating the versatility of the sitar across all musical genres. Anoushka has also begun to compose for film, scoring the silent 1928 film Shiraz for the British Film Institute among others projects.
Ultimately, the collection of songs on ‘Love Letters’ are about more than heartbreak or loss; they pull from various wellsprings – nostalgia, regret, pain, hope – and mark a quiet metamorphosis for the artist.
“They’re really about rising through the pain, rather than shutting down.”
And rise she has: 2020 will see Anoushka touring her new music, alongside special gala performances to commemorate the centenary of her late, legendary father Ravi Shankar’s birth. Loves may come and go, change may be the only constant, but Anoushka’s purpose as an artist, a campaigner and a survivor remain unshakeable.
LOVE LETTERS TRACKLISTING
Track 1 – Bright Eyes (feat. Alev Lenz)
Track 2 – Those Words (feat. Shilpa Rao & Ayanna Witter-Johnson)
Track 3 – Lovable (feat. Ibeyi)
Track 4 – Space (feat. Alev Lenz)
Track 5 – Wallet (feat. Alev Lenz)
Track 6 – In This Mouth (feat. Alev Lenz)
Listen to ‘Those Words’ here: