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Ex-Beatle's widow lauds Ravi Shankar at US memorial

22 december 2012, 13:21
0
Former Beatle George Harrison's widow Olivia joined hundreds of fans and family of Ravi Shankar on Thursday at an open-air memorial to the Indian sitar legend near his California home, AFP reports.

Anoushka Shankar, daughter of the late musician who died last week near San Diego, read out tributes about her father from fellow artists at the service in a palm tree-lined meditation center.

Grammy-winning singer Norah Jones, Shankar's daughter from an affair with a US concert producer, was dressed in black and kept a low profile at the memorial in Encinitas, up the coast from San Diego.

Harrison, whose late husband learned sitar from Shankar and collaborated with him notably on the ground-breaking Concert for Bangladesh in 1971, said the former Beatle had learned so much from their friendship.

"They were like father and son as well as brothers... they made each other laugh as if they shared a secret. And I'm sure they did," said the 64-year-old, whose husband died of cancer in 2001.

Shankar "laid the stepping stones from West to East, that led George to new concepts, alternative philosophies and completely transformed his musical sensibilities," she said.

"They exchanged ideas and melodies until their minds and hearts, East and West, were entwined, like a double helix," she added in Encinitas, where Shankar had a home.

Shankar's 31-year-old daughter Anoushka -- also a sitar player, and just nominated for a Grammy -- told the audience that her father would have approved of the memorial's venue, the Self-Realization Fellowship spiritual center.

"My father loved spending time here so much, so it feels so right for us to be here celebrating his journey," she said, before reading out tributes from singer Peter Gabriel and film director Martin Scorsese.

Shankar died last Tuesday at the age of 92, after failing to recover from surgery at a hospital in La Jolla, near San Diego. His family was at his bedside.

Private memorial services were announced both in the United States and India, where Shankar also had a home.

His widow Sukanya was also at the California memorial, which started with prayers chanted by M.N. Nandakumara of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan institute for Indian art and culture in London.

Nandakumara said that Shankar's music "brought people of various countries, communities together to his soul-stirring music, which was matchless.

"I do not know another musician who has understood the Eastern and Western music the way (Shankar) understood it, and interpreted it in such a way that people around the world were mesmerized by it," he said.

As well as Indian family and friends, Thursday's event -- at which speakers were flanked on stage by photos of Shankar at various stages of his life -- was attended by locals and other fans and followers.

"He's local, he's part of the community here," said Eddy Jimenez, a musician and trumpet player from Encinitas, comparing Shankar's influence and music to that of Harrison's fellow Beatle John Lennon.

"He's a bridge between humanity, really, not just East and West. I'm just here to pay my respects," the 61-year-old told AFP.

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