While you may be more keen to know who were the best dressed at the Grammys or even want to check out Zendaya’s red carpet looks. In case you missed it, India swelled with pride when two of its artists were added to the list of Grammy award winners in India. Falguni Shah (A Colourful World) and Ricky Kej (Divine Tides) claimed a space for themselves as Grammy winners from India. This has once again opened up the conversation around Indian representation at the Grammys Annual Awards.
The Grammys are awarded to trailblazers of the music industry every year. However, Indian musicians have left no stone unturned to share their country’s tunes with the international community. Want to know about the Indian musicians who won a Grammy? From A R Rahman to Neela Vaswani, here are some Indian musicians who bagged the prestigious gilded gramophone.
List of famous Grammy Award winners in India
1. Falguni Shah
The most recent Indian singer nominated for a Grammy award was Falguni Shah. Consequently, she also won it for her album A Colourful World (Best Children’s Album) in 2022 making it her first-ever Grammy. The Mumbai-born star also performed at the Grammy Premier Ceremony. There aren’t many Indian singers who won a Grammy. The artist has also worked with A R Rahman on the soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire and Yo-Yo Ma on the Silk Road Project. This is a pivotal moment for brown girls around the world and we can’t wait to see what she creates in 2023!
2. A R Rahman
In the entire history of Indian music, no one creates magic better than A R Rahman. He is one of the few Indian singers who won a Grammy. The creator of unforgettable soundtracks from Slumdog Millionaire, Rockstar, Rang De Basanti and Guru has bagged a Grammy twice. He was nominated for his powerful creations in Slumdog Millionaire in two categories; the first one was for ‘Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media’ while the second one was under ‘Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media’ for Jai Ho. The man marked history by bagging both in the 2010 Grammy Awards Ceremony.
3. Pandit Ravi Shankar
Famously known for his collaboration with the Beatles, Pandit Ravi Shankar was an Indian sitarist and composer. While he was nominated for 10, he bagged 4 of them. Today he has made a mark in history as a proponent of Hindustani music who brought it to the international stage. He also gave George Harrison lessons on playing the sitar. His first nomination was in the category of Best Folk Recording for his Sound of Sitar during the 9th Grammy Awards in 1967. His four wins came from West Meets East (Best Chamber Music, 10th Grammy Awards, 1967), The Concert for Bangla Desh (Album of the Year, 15th Grammy Awards, 1972), Full Circle - Carnegie Hall 2000 (Best World Music Album, 44th Grammys, 2001) and The Living Room Sessions Part 1 (Best Music World Album, 55th Grammys, 2013). Unfortunately, he didn’t live to receive the last one. The artist was also one of the first Indians who won a Grammy.
4. Zakir Hussain
Name a better tabla maestro than Zakir Hussain, we dare you! The trailblazer of post-Independence Indian classical music has been nominated for four Grammys so far. From these, his Global Drum Project bagged the Grammy under the category of Best Contemporary World Music Album during the 51st ceremony in 2009. He will be remembered as one of the Indian musicians who won a Grammy.
5. Zubin Mehta
The Bombay-born Zubin Mehta was loved for his performances as an orchestral conductor. So far, he has won five Grammys and has been nominated for many more. His performance at the Isaac Stern 60th Anniversary Celebration bagged him his first Grammy under the category ‘Best Classical Performance’, in the year 1981. The showcase also bagged him the ‘Best Engineered Recording, Classical’ in the same year. Apart from this, he was awarded Grammys in 1982 (Best Classical Vocal Soloist Performance for Verdi: Arias) and 1990 (Best Classical Performance, Instrumental Soloist and Best Classical Vocal Performance for Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1).
6. Neela Vaswani
Ever heard of a book leading to a Grammy win? Neela Vaswani might just be one of the very few to claim to have won one. No kidding! She created an audiobook for I am Malala, the autobiography of Nobel Peace Prize winner - Malala Yousafzai. It narrates the story of a young girl who stood against the Taliban that threatened to take away the right to education. The audio version of this children’s book was nominated under the ‘Best Children’s Album’ category. At the 57th Grammy awards, Vaswani made history by accepting a Grammy too, the only one of all Indians who won a Grammy! While she isn’t an Indian singer nominated for a Grammy award, she definitely left her mark!
7. Tanvi Shah
Who was the first Indian woman to have won a Grammy? Amongst the many Indian musicians who won a Grammy, Tanvi Shah is the first Indian woman to have claimed one. This artist made history by being one of only three Indian female Grammy winners from India. She was also one of Grammys' best-dressed. Her performance for Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire got her nominated under the category of Best Song Written for Motion Picture or Other Visual Media. The Tamil-born artist debuted in Fanaa and can sing in multiple languages. Her Grammy was shared with A R Rahman and Gulzaar for the song’s Spanish lyrics.
8. Ricky Kej
Ricky Kej, a Bengaluru-based artist and music composer, made India proud by bagging his second Grammy in 2022. He is one of the few Indian singers who won a Grammy. The self-made musical creator’s Album Divine Tides claimed the title of the ‘Best New Age Album’. The piece was a collaboration with Stewart Copeland who founded the band - The Police. This shared Grammy would be Copeland’s 6th, according to Kej’s Instagram post. What’s more, the album was also nominated for the category of Best Immersive Audio Album but did not win the same. Before this, Kej’s album Winds of Samsara brought him his first Grammy in 2015 for the 57th Annual Awards. The star is all set to win hearts again in 2023 with some new creations.
9. Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt
Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt was one of Ravi Shankar’s disciples who also made it on the international stage of music. Of all Grammy Indian winners, this maestro dabbles in Hindustani instrumental and is fluent in the tunes of the Mohan Veena. Not many know this but he has been dubbed a slide guitar virtuoso in the world of Indian classical music. It is believed that Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt is also a descendant of the musicians from Akbar’s court - Tansen and Swami Haridas Bhatt, his guru. He may not be related by blood but their unique knowledge of music might have been passed down to him over generations. Bhatt’s album ‘A Meeting by the River’ got him nominated for his first ever Grammy under the category of ‘Best World Music Album’. He went on to win the same in 1993 during the 36th Annual Grammy Awards. The awards were shared with Ry Cooder, an American musician. Bhatt’s legacy continues to live through his contemporary musical pieces with fellow international artists like Jerry Douglas. His career is an inspiration to Indian musicians and a proud moment for Indian representation all around the world.
10. TH Vinayakram
Have you ever heard of the ghatam? That’s the very instrument that got Thetakudi Harihara Vinayakram (fondly known as Vikku), his first-ever Grammy in 1991. He not only represented India on an international stage but also brought a lesser-known national instrument to the map. One of our favourite Grammy Indian winners won his first for ‘Planet Drum’, making him the first Carnatic musician to win one. Not many know this but he began his career as a percussionist when he was just 13 years old. Eventually, he collaborated with artists like Zakir Hussain and John McLaughlin for his international debut in the 70s. He is truly one of the few unforgettable Grammy winners from India.
11. H Sridhar
The soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire brought in so many Grammys for everyone who helped create it. The Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album at the Annual Grammy Awards was shared between three sound engineers - P.A. Deepak, Vivianne Chaix and H. Sridhar. Considered one of the best sound engineers, H Sridhar was the genius behind most of Rahman’s discography. While the award was presented at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards in the year 2010, H Sridhar’s sudden demise left the entire music industry in shock. While it is believed that he always wanted to win a Grammy, he wasn’t there to see it happen. Several albums that he had helped build such as John McLaughlin’s ‘Floating Point’ were also nominated for the Grammys during the same time. His unwavering passion for his art brought so many unique musical pieces to life, some of which will live on forever.