Smt. Lakshmi Shankar

Biography

Lakshmi Shankar (born Lakshmi Sastri, 16 June 1926 – 30 December 2013) was a noted Hindustani classical vocalist of the Patiala Gharana. She was known for her performances of khyal, thumri, and bhajans. She was the sister-in-law of sitar player Ravi Shankar and the mother-in-law of violinist L. Subramaniam (her daughter Viji (Vijayashree Shankar) Subramaniam being his first wife).

Born in 1926, Lakshmi started her career in dancing. In 1939, when Uday Shankar brought his dance troupe to Madras (recently renamed Chennai), she joined the Almora Centre to learn Shankar’s dance style based on the Indian classics, and became a part of the troupe. In 1941, she married Uday Shankar's brother, Rajendra (nicknamed Raju).

During a period of illness, Lakshmi had to give up dancing, and already having had a background of Carnatic music, she undertook learning Hindustani classical music for many years under Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan. Later, she also trained with Ravi Shankar, the sitar maestro and youngest brother of Rajendra and Uday.

In 1974, Lakshmi performed in Europe as part of Ravi Shankar's Music Festival from India. Late that same year, she toured North America with Shankar and George Harrison, who produced the Shankar Family & Friends album (1974), including the pop single "I Am Missing You" with vocals by Lakshmi. Following Ravi Shankar's heart attack during the tour, she conducted his ensemble of musicians.

Lakshmi has shown her versatility and adaptability by composing music for Bharatanatyam for the leading dance company Shakti School of Bharatanatyam, located in Los Angeles.

Shankar died on 30 December 2013 in California.

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