Shenkar (aka L.Shankar, Shankar) is widely considered a living legend, a pioneer and a musical genius by his peers who hold him in the highest esteem. Shenkar has enthralled audiences and critics alike all over the world. A child prodigy who is a virtuoso vocalist, violinist, composer and record producer who has sold over 100 million albums through his solo projects and collaborations with other superstar musicians throughout the world.
Shankar was born in Madras, his parents from Kerala, he grew up in Jaffna, Sri Lanka where his father V. Lakshminarayana was a professor at the Jaffna College of Music. Shankar was exposed to Carnatic music and other styles from an early age. He started studying the vocals at the age of two then violin at five then mridangamat seven. His father was an esteemed violinist, vocalist, his mother L. Seethalakshmi played the veena and sang; all his five older siblings were also proficient in music. At the age of seven, Shankar gave his first public concert, at a Ceylonese temple, Nallur Kandaswarmy. He gained a large following performing with some of the most eminent names in Carnatic music, playing all through India, such as Chembai Vaithyanatha Baghavatar, Palghat Mani Iyer, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Alathur Srinivasa Iyerand many other leading musicians. Following the ethnic riots in Sri Lanka, his family escaped to India.
Shenkar created and designed his own invention, first of its kind the 10 string stereophonic Double Violin, built by Ken Parker. The Double Violin covers the entire range of the orchestra.He formed the ground breaking band Shakti with the British guitarist John Mclaughlin, Zakir Hussain and Vikku Vinayakram and toured the world. He also performed extensively his Indian classical tours with Zakir Hussain and Vinayakram. He recorded 8 world music albums for the reputed German label ECM and toured extensively featuring the renowned Sax Player Jan Garbarek, Kenny Wheeler, Don Cherry, Ed Blackwell, Trilok Gurtu in many Jazz and world music festivals organized by his label ECM featuring other ECM artists such as Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette etc.
Shenkar is one of a kind musician venturing in different genres of music. Besides his numerous classical albums he has released worldwide several pop, rock, electronic dance music hit albums and videos including the musical composition of the 2005 Oscar winning documentary,“Born Into Brothels”. In 1990, Shenkar co-produced a one-hour BBC film directed by award winning director H.O. Nazareth. It was nominated as one of the best documentaries at theCannes Film Festival. Shenkar’s work has been featured in the following films: “Queen of TheDamned”, “Ali”, “Jennifer 8ʺ, “Robin Hood”, “Jacobs Ladder” and more. Shankar’s pop, rock, electronic dance music albums have featured guest artists such as Frank Zappa, Peter Gabriel,Phil Collins, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, John Waite, Stewart Copeland (The Police),Ginger Baker, Toto, Johnathon Davis (Korn), Natasha Bedingfield, Pat Monahan (Train),RandyJackson (American Idol) and Patrick Leonard (Madonna) amongst others.
Shenkar’s pop DVD, “One In A Million”, became the number 1 DVD in the US spending 4 weeks on top of the U.S. Soundscan/Billboard charts. Shenkar has also collaborated with Frank Zappa(who produced Shenkar’s solo record for Zappa Records), Talking Heads, Pete Townsend, Lou Reed, Marianne Faithful, Sting, Jeff Beck, U2, The Pretenders, Echo & The Bunnymen, John Lydon (Public Image Ltd.), George Harrison, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Dave Stewart, Pete Townsend (The Who), Jonathan Davis (Korn), Robert Trujillo (Metallica), Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction) and many more.
Shenkar has worked on numerous soundtracks including the Grammy award winning and controversial “The Last Temptation of Christ” by the legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese. Heco-wrote many tracks with Peter Gabriel and his vocals were featured in the movie. In 2004 Shenkar, composed and performed vocals on Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”. His unmistakable haunting voice was heard all through the movie.
Additional special projects have included The Princess Trust Rock Concerts with Princess Diana in England, The United Nations Peace Day Festivals, and Nelson Mandela’s 80th Birthday celebrations. The rock extravaganza, Human Rights Now World Tour in 1988, featured Shenkar’s own group, who were joined in performance by Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel, in addition to several other musicians.
Shenkar collaborated with the gifted duo Wendy & Lisa (Prince) on their original score for the NBC smash hit TV series “Heroes”. Shenkar is the featured lead vocalist on the theme and all episodes of “Heroes”. Also in Heroes-Reborn TV series. His voice is featured on the recent hitTV show Fear the Walking Dead.
Shenkar moved to India in January 2016 following the invitation from Sri Thirumeni Guruji at Chepleeri Siva Temple in Kattukulam, Punchapadam, 30 km from Pallakad. Sri Thirumeni Guruji and Shankar started Shiva Conservatory 3 1/2 years ago the headquarter at Chepleeri Shiva Temple and other branches including at Palakkad Public Library in Palakkad headed by T.R. Ajayan, Chennai, Hosur, Los Angeles which has several prominent musicians taking master classes under Shankar and many other students from different genres of music. Since then he has been living there and touring extensively in India and abroad. He has been conducting Master Classes jointly presented by Swaralaya & Shiva Conservatory at the Palakkad Public Library organized by Sri T.R. Ajayan. During his stay in Kerala he has recently completed his new upcoming album ” Chepleeri Dream ” to be released world wide by Cleopatra Records from Hollywood which features Sri Thirumeni Guruji’s mesmerizing vedic chants and also internationally renowned superstars who have sold all together over 1000 million records . Through this album Shankar wishes to put Kerala on the highest horizon for musical fans all over the world from different genres of music. This album features artists such as Jonathan Davis (Korn), Scott Page (Pink Floyd), Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), Norwood Fisher (Fishbone),Tony Levin (John Lennon, Peter Gabriel), Chester Thompson (PhilCollins, Genesis), Josh Lopez Will.I.Am, Black Eyed Peas), Dileep Palakkad, Zack Baird (Korn, Beyonce / Jay-Z), Neel Agrawa.