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Anoushka Shankar and Shilpa Rao come together for a song about heartbreak from a woman’s perspective

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By Subhanjana Das  February 10th, 2020

Two hyper-talented musicians. A lunch in London. A mutual admiration of each other’s work. That is pretty much how Anoushka Shankar’s collaboration with Shilpa Rao on her new single Those Words came to be. The track is taken from her upcoming EP, Love Letters. Those Words also features British composer, singer and cellist Ayanna Witter Johnson. In fact, the whole creative army behind the song was an all-female one.

Anoushka Shankar

For Anoushka Shankar, that came from a very personal space. “I was leaning on close female friends as my marriage ended, spending time with them as part of the healing process. Some of them are also musicians and the process became musical. Due to the experiences influencing the songs it felt natural to keep the female voice and perspective strong,” shares Shankar. Love Letters indeed is rooted in a strongly feminine voice, something that Shankar says she aimed for. “I was strongly drawn to the female voice and therefore focused exclusively on songs with lyrics, creating a collection of songs that directly address heartbreak and its ensuing emotions in a way that instrumental music can only hint at,” she says.

Shilpa Rao

The voice in Those Words is that of Shilpa Rao, who has lent her distinctly identifiable voice to popular Bollywood tracks such as Manmarziyan from Lootera and Bulleya from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Those Words mark the singer’s first international collaboration.

Speaking of how she came together with Anoushka Shankar for the song, Rao says, “It’s just so amazing that people from various genres of music just come together to create something, and incidentally, this project is an all-female one. It just happened to be so and it has flown very naturally.

Rao adds, “The song has a narrative of a woman who’s sitting and thinking of, of the relationship that she had after separation. It’s not that she wants it back. She is not in a regret mode or a what-could-have-been mode; it’s more of just remembering the times that she had with someone. So, I think it’s a very beautiful, strong, progressive, evolved way of life.”