Gingger Shankar and Charlotte Qamaniq merge cultures in an ode to nature

With no musical instruments, this vocal tribute to Nature bridges the musical heritage of India and Nunavut, Canada

May 04, 2024 11:35 am | Updated 11:57 am IST

Gingger Shankar 

Gingger Shankar  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

This Earth Day, Indian-American violinist Gingger Shankar and Inuit throat singer Charlotte Qamaniq from Nunavut, Canada brought their diverse cultures closer together with a song titled Ever So Lonely/Eyes/Ocean, that captures the essence of Nature.  It was released under record label Naughty Horses Records on April 22 worldwide.

The song shares its moniker with Ever So Lonely, the debut single by British band Monsoon with Sheila Chandra, a retired English pop singer of Indian descent, on vocals (later remixed as Ever So Lonely/Eyes/Ocean by Stephen Haig). It blends South Indian carnatic classical vocals with Inuit throat singing — a vocal tradition of the Inuit indigenous people, where singers produce rhythmic and harmonic sounds using specialised breathing techniques. 

“When Gingger approached me to collaborate on this song, I was instantly drawn to it because in our culture we have higher powers and deities that come from Nature, environment, land, ocean, and weather,” says Charlotte adding that a deity named Sedna, who is the goddess of ocean and protects marine life, was her inspiration for the song. 

Gingger and Charlotte previously worked together a few years ago on another project and in January 2024, the idea for this collaboration came to Gingger. This song has been in the works ever since.

Charlotte Qamaniq

Charlotte Qamaniq | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“We decided to make it an ode to Nature and were digging through our traditions,” says Gingger, who plays the violin, cello, and piano. Notably, she is the only female player of the double violin, a ten-string, stereophonic instrument encompassing the entire orchestral range. . “Sa-re-ga-ma-pa-dha-ni-sa (the seven notes of Indian classical music) are based on Sanskrit text and each one represents an animal. A lot of people don’t know that,”. Sa is associated with the sound of the peacock; Re, the bull/skylark; Ga, the goat; Ma, the dove/heron; Pa, the cuckoo/nightingale; Dha, the horse and Ni, the elephant.

“A huge part of both cultures is derived from Nature and due to the rapid Westernisation, traditions are buried and hidden,” says Gingger. This song is an attempt at bringing forth what was lost. “It was very easy to do. It fit like a glove. We’ve used the sounds of Nature, animals, and environment,” added Charlotte.

The song came was recorded in multiple places and came together in Naughty Horses Record studio in Los Angeles. 

With no other music instruments, the song was completely done with vocals. “We decided to go full acapells because we thought if we’re paying an ode to mother Nature, what’s more powerful than using our voices,” says Gingger. 

Ever So Lonely/Eyes/Ocean by Gingger Shankar and Charlotte Qamaniq is available to stream on Spotify

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