- Mich. judge to laughing convicted killer: ‘I hope you die in prison’
- Man charged in Kansas City-area highway shootings
- Keystone XL pipeline still on hold after State Dept. decision
- Fla. man charged with killing 16-month-old son to play Xbox undisturbed
- Drones from the deep: Pentagon develops ocean-floor attack robots
- Michigan mayor slaps back atheists’ try to erect ‘reason station’ at city hall
- PHILLIPS: Where is the conservative establishment?
- 7.5-magnitude earthquake shakes southern Mexico
- ISTOOK: IRS “wants to throw us in jail,” says tea party leader
- Easter woes: Chocolate costs soar, becoming ‘unaffordable’ luxury
Ravi Shankar’s sitar maker says his legacy lives
Like his grandfather and father before him, Sharma built, tuned and fixed instruments for the virtuoso, who introduced millions of Westerners to the sitar and the centuries-old tradition of Indian classical music. For years, he traveled around the world with him, and late in the maestro’s life he even created a smaller version of the instrument that he could play with ease.
Shankar, described as “the godfather of world music” by Beatle George Harrison, died Tuesday in San Diego, California, at age 92. A day later, the multiple Grammy winner received a lifetime achievement honor Wednesday from the Recording Academy.
Shankar “was music and music was him,” Sharma said Thursday, surrounded by display cases full of gleaming string instruments in his tiny shop in the crowded lanes of central Delhi. Pictures of two other Beatles _ John Lennon and Paul McCartney _ playing the sitar in his shop hang on the walls.
Sharma’s grandfather started the business, Rikhi Ram’s Music, in 1920 in the northern city of Lahore, now in Pakistan. He met a young Ravi Shankar at a concert there in the 1940s, but the men began working together in the 1950s, following the India-Pakistan partition and the relocation of the shop to New Delhi.
Around that time, Shankar started working with and teaching legendary Western musicians including violinist Yehudi Menuhin and jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. But it was Shankar’s relationship with Harrison that shot him to global stardom in the 1960s.
“When I opened my eyes there was him. Music was just him,” he said.
Sharma created what he calls the “studio sitar,” a smaller version of the sitar. But holding the instrument was still difficult. So Sharma popped out to a Home Depot near Shankar’s San Diego-area home and bought some supplies to build a detachable stand.
The musician was thrilled. Sharma says he told him, “Your father was a brilliant sitar maker, but you are a genius.”
Now, as Sharma mourns the giant of Indian music, he also worries about the future of the art. He sees traditional Indian instruments gradually losing their place in their own country to zippy, electronic Bollywood music.
“We are losing the originality and the core of our Indian music,” the 44-year-old said.
At the same time, Shankar’s work as a global ambassador of music has borne fruit, Sharma said: “Because the music has gone to the West, we’re getting lots of new musical aspirants from the Western countries.”
TWT Video Picks
Nevadans want to know whose hand at BLM is grabbing their land
- Harry Reid blasts Bundy ranch supporters as 'domestic terrorists'
- Immigration still on hold: Boehner's office
- Inside China: Marine's comment on islands draws sharp Chinese response
- Supreme Court weighs appeal to concealed-carry gun laws
- PRUDEN: When a bored president just 'mails it in'
- Nancy Pelosi washes immigrants' feet in humble Holy Week act then promotes on Twitter
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
- BRUCE: Obama deliberately emboldening America's enemies
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Critics rail against liberal bias for commencement speakers
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.