It was indeed a proud moment for India when late composer Pandit Ravi Shankar made history by being the first Indian to win a Grammy Award for his album West Meets East in the ‘Best Chamber Music Performance’ category in 1968. Since then many exceptional Indian artists have won Grammys, including Zubin Mehta, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, AR Rahman, Zakir Hussain and Neela Vaswani, through the years and brought recognition to India’s music talent.

Although the ceremony, including its attendees and recipients, is mostly dominated by Hollywood personalities, these outstanding Indian singers and composers have won awards in different categories at the Grammys over the years.

This year as well, the star-studded 64th Annual Grammy Awards that were held on 4 April, featured two Indian musicians Ricky Kej and Falguni ‘Falu’ Shah who won big. Giving ‘gully’ hip hop a global platform, rapper DIVINE also made his red carpet debut at the 2022 Grammys and became the first-ever Indian hip hop artist to have attended the esteemed award show.

The Grammy Awards are presented every year by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) in the United States. The NARAS voting members shortlist five nominees for each award category among the entries submitted for consideration by academy members and record companies. Each voter is permitted to cast a ballot pertaining only to their genre and field of expertise.

Here are eight Indian artists who have won a Grammy Award throughout the years

Pandit Ravi Shankar

Pandit Ravi Shankar: first Indian artist to win a Grammy
Image: Courtesy Alexandra Ignatenko/CC-BY-SA-4.0/Wikimedia Commons

Pandit Ravi Shankar, a sitarist and composer, was and still is the world’s most recognised exponent of North Indian classical music. Out of Indian artists who won the Grammys, he was not only the first Indian musician to ever win a Grammy Award but won four more honours over the years. The legendary artist won the first Grammy for his album West Meets East in the ‘Best Chamber Music Performance’ category in 1968.

This was followed by an ‘Album of the Year’ award in 1973 for his music album The Concert for Bangladesh alongside guitarist George Harrison and ‘Best World Album’ award in 2002 for Full Circle: Carnegie Hall 2000.

After he passed away in 2012, Shankar’s musical legacy was honoured with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 2013, along with another award in the ‘Best World Music Album’ category for his album The Living Room Sessions Pt. 1 in the same year.

Zubin Mehta

Zubin Mehta conducting the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre(NCPA) in Mumbai.
Image: Courtesy Apoorva Guptay/CC-BY-2.0/Wikimedia Commons

Just like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Indian orchestral conductor and music director, Zubin Mehta, also won five Grammy awards and multiple nominations in various categories throughout his musical career. Zubin won his first Grammy in 1981 in the ‘Best Classical Performance – Instrumental Soloist(s) (With Orchestra)’ category for his work on the Isaac Stern 60th Anniversary Celebration. He also bagged the ‘Best Engineered Recording, Classical’ award for the same project, the same year.

The talented artist was once again honoured at the Grammys in 1982 with an award in the ‘Best Classical Vocal Soloist Performance’ category for his classic recital Verdi: Arias (Leontyne Price Sings Verdi).

Following this, Mehta won two awards in 1990 in the ‘Best Classical Performance, Instrumental Soloist (With Orchestra)’ and ‘Best Classical Vocal Performance’ categories for his performance in Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1 In A Minor/Glazunov: Violin Concerto In A Minor and Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti In Concert, respectively.

Zakir Hussain

Zakir Hussain in Munich
Image: Courtesy Sven.petersen/Wikimedia Commons

Popularly known as one of the best tabla virtuosos of the post-independence era, Indian classical musician Zakir Hussain bagged the coveted Grammy Award in the ‘Best World Album’ category for his work on the album Planet Drum alongside percussionist TH Vinayakram in 1991. Vinayakram is known for the Carnatic music he creates with a ghatam or an earthen pot.

Planet Drum was a world music album by American musician and musicologist Mickey Hart, who was a member of the rock band Grateful Dead. Hart’s award-winning album brought together percussionists from around the world, including Zakir Hussain. The album incorporated different musical styles and traditions of the international artists into one global medley.

Hussain won his second Grammy in 2008 in the ‘Best Contemporary World Music Album’ category for his album Global Drum Project. The tracks of this album were created by blending music played on different types of drums, other instruments, human voices singing and chanting and electronic samples and digitally-produced sounds.

The winning album was created by artists Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju and Giovanni Hidalgo. Released by the label Shout! Factory in 2007, the melodies in the album were meticulously made using the power of raw musical instruments and sounds.

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt

Indian Grammy winner: Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt
Image: Courtesy Indrajit Das/CC-BY-SA-3.0/Wikimedia Commons

Following the footsteps of Pandit Ravi Shankar, his foremost disciple Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt is a Hindustani classical music instrumentalist and a Mohan Veena or slide guitar virtuoso. He belongs to the elite line of musicians boasting an origin that traces back to the Mughal emperor Akbar’s court musician Tansen and Hindu mystic Swami Haridas Bhatt, who was his guru.

Bhatt won a Grammy in 1993 in the ‘Best World Music Album’ category for his work on the album A Meeting by the River alongside American musician Ry Cooder. The album was released via the label Water Lily Acoustics. Bhatt has also collaborated with Western artists such as Taj Mahal, Béla Fleck and Jerry Douglas on fusion and pan-cultural musical projects over the course of his prolific career.

AR Rahman

AR Rahman at Grammys 2022 with son
Image: Courtesy A.R. Rahman/@arrahman/Instagram

Among all the Indian artists who won the Grammys, AR Rahman is a globally known Indian film composer, singer, songwriter and record producer who has won innumerable national and international accolades for his influential and prolific work in the music industry.

In 2008, Rahman bagged the prestigious Grammy Award alongside sound engineer H Sridhar, and mix engineer and record producer, PA Deepak, for the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire under the ‘Best Compilation Soundtrack Album’ category.

He also won another award for the same movie under the ‘Best Song Written for Visual Media’ category, which he shared with singer-songwriter Tanvi Shah and legendary lyricist, poet, author and screenwriter, Gulzar. The win made Tanvi Shah the first Indian woman to bring home a Grammy award.

Ricky Kej

Ricky Kej with Stewart Copeland
Image: Courtesy Ricky Kej/@rickykej/Instagram

One of the two Indians who bagged an award at the 2022 Grammys, Ricky Kej is a Bengaluru-based self-taught music composer and an avid environmentalist who has performed at prestigious venues in over 30 countries including the United Nations headquarters in New York and Geneva over the years.

Kej won his first Grammy in 2015 alongside well-known South African flautist, producer and composer Wouter Kellerman in the ‘Best New Age Album’ category for their collaborative album Winds of Samsara.

Adding another feather to his cap, Kej won his second Grammy in the ‘Best New Age Album’ category for his 14th studio album Divine Tides, which he shared with American musician and composer Stewart Copeland at the 2022 Grammy Awards.

Neela Vaswani

Neela Vaswani is an Indian-American New York-based author who wrote the renowned short story collection Where the Long Grass Bends published by non-profit literary press Sarabande Books in 2004. Praised for her fiction and non-fiction work, she is also the recipient of a 2006 O. Henry Prize.

Vaswani won a Grammy Award in 2015 in the ‘Best Children’s Album’ category for her work based on the autobiographical book I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up For Education And Changed The World (Malala Yousafzai). In the album, she narrated the audio version of the inspiring book.

I am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism and the resulting fight for girls’ education. It is a story about a little girl who had extraordinary courage to break the shackles of patriarchy and fight against the dire conditions brought about by the wars in Afghanistan. She was shot by the Taliban in the head but fortunately survived.

Falguni ‘Falu’ Shah

Falguni Shah at the 2022 Grammys
Image: Courtesy Falguni Shah/@falumusic/Instagram

Indian-American singer Falguni ‘Falu’ Shah won an award in the ‘Best Children’s Album’ category for A Colourful World at the 2022 Grammys. Trained in the Jaipur musical tradition and the Banaras style of Thumri under legendary sarangi and vocal master Ustad Sultan Khan, Shah has also worked with international musicians such as Wyclef Jean, Philip Glass, Ricky Martin, Blues Traveler and Yo-Yo Ma over the course of her exciting music career.

The singer had previously collaborated with maestro AR Rahman on the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire as well. Before bagging the Grammy, Shah was nominated in the same category for her album Falu’s Bazaar back in 2018.

Hero and featured image: Courtesy AR Rahman/@arrahman/Instagram

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India

written by.

Eesha Kulkarni

Eesha is a passionate digital nomad with a master’s degree in architecture and industrial design from Politecnico di Milano, Italy. A jack of all trades who enjoys writing art, architecture, travel and lifestyle features, she is found petting dogs, taking walks in nature and sniffing books in her free time.
Indian artists who have won the Grammys over the years