I don’t remember how I stumbled upon Shankar Tucker’s music. I remember watching his video for the first time and smiling…because he was trying to do something really different. What fascinated me more was his background: He was born in the U.S. He initially trained in Western Classical Music but he is not one of those people who blindly follows tradition. His quest to do something different brought him to India where he learned Indian Classical music. After learning both forms of music, he tried to play Indian classical music on a Clarinet..since it was difficult, he actually tweaked the musical instrument (I read all these in his interviews, long time back…it is possible that I might have forgotten few things). He started collaborating with Indian artists and making YouTube videos. His refreshing sound slowly started attracting listeners. He is doing really well now.
What’s inspiring about Shankar is his passion. The music industry in India is not really developed…musicians have to depend on film music to make a living (that is changing but things are still difficult). Shankar left an opportunity in the U.S. music industry which is certainly better in terms of opportunities. I remember watching a TED talk of his and being bowled over by his vision. I feel that Shankar has managed to achieve something really rare: the things that people sing in his videos are sort of traditional but he manages to give it a contemporary touch, without giving into the temptation of being more ‘likable.’
Few videos of his feature sisters Vidya and Vandana. Both of them are trained in Indian classical music. I don’t know what happened to Vandana but Vidya Iyer is still making music. These days, she is making a lot of mash-ups. Now, most of the mash-ups on the internet are boring but Vidya’s mash-ups of Tamil songs, Bollywood songs and English pop songs are quite good. Some of them are dull but most of them are pretty good. Some people think that doing a mash-up is easy as you are dealing with hit songs but it’s actually pretty challenging because you need to get the right mix. It’s a different art altogether.
If you are new to these artists then the first song that you should check is this. Don’t worry if you don’t know Tamil..even I don’t know the language. You don’t need to understand what they are singing.
If you haven’t heard about Shankar, then do checkout his YouTube channel (click). I would suggest you to start from the beginning and not his latest videos (I don’t really like his latest videos, but maybe, you will like it). And here’s Vidya’s YouTube channel (click).