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Honor Thy Father: Sisters Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar Play Tribute on ‘Traces of You’

By Jonathan Lambert on Oct 26, 2013 05:23 PM EDT

In a world that seems more likely to rip us apart, rather than bring us together, there is the occasional exception that offers some glimpse of hope--no matter how misplaced it may be.

More apropos, at a time when musicians would collaborate to boost record sales, rather than to further their creative consciousness, it’s refreshing to see like minds come together, indeed.

And that’s precisely what happened when singer/pianist Norah Jones and composer/sitarist Anoushka Shankar decided to collaborate on the latter’s latest album, Traces of You.

Of course, Jones and Shankar have always been more than mere collaborators. They are family--half-sisters, born a world apart, to a father more musically important than either one of them presently are.

Bringing his own brand of Indo-jazz to the U.S. in the ‘50s, Ravi Shankar influenced everyone from André Previn to John Coltrane to the Beatles. And while his style remained relatively unchanged during the decades that followed, he forever altered how a number of musicians perform (and to a larger extent, understand) “world music.”

But Traces of You isn’t the first time the sisters’ lives have intertwined on record; back in 2003, they were both nominated for Grammys.

Norah was up for eight different statues, including record, album and song of the year for Come Away with Me. Anoushka made headlines, herself, for being the first woman ever nominated in the world music category, as well as the youngest entrant in that genre’s history.

Nearly a decade later, once again, their two worlds would come crashing back together. Their father--who was largely absent from Norah’s life, but played a major part in Anoushka’s--died in a hospital near his California home, having lost his battle with heart disease.

Now, finally, both of Ravi Shankar’s daughters are intent upon honoring their father’s legacy. In fact, that is what Traces of You is all about: never forgetting the people and places that have shaped who you are.

Anoushka Shankar explains, “People who have gone, are still here, in us. Places we came from are carried to places we go.”

This is especially true when it comes to Norah’s singing and Anoushka’s playing on the track “The Sun Won’t Set.” To fully understand its significance, though, one must remember that Ravi Shankar’s name, in Sanskrit, translates as “sun.”

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TagsNorah Jones, Anoushka Shankar, Ravi Shankar, Traces of You, André Previn, John Coltrane, Beatles, Grammys, Come Away with Me, The Sun Won’t Set, Decca

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