Gingger Shankar is an American Indian musician. She is a skilled multi-instrumentalist, singer, and violinist. She has composed music for several noted films such as Circumstance (2011), Brahmin Bulls (2014), Heartbeats (2018), and The Passion of the Christ (2004), and television series including Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World (2017), and And She Could Be Next (2020).
Gingger Shankar was born in Los Angeles, United States. She was brought up in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. Soon after finishing her school education, she went to Kalakshetra creative arts school in Chennai, Tamil Nadu to pursue a degree in Fine Arts. Later, she studied opera vocals from professional opera singer Tantoo Cardinal in Sherman Oaks, California. She belongs to one of the world’s most acclaimed and influential musical families. Her father, Dr L Subramaniam, who was a violinist, and her mother, Viji Subramaniam, who was an Indian classical singer started teaching her Indian classical singing and musical instruments when she was very young. According to Gingger Shankar, she was brought up and spent a lot of time of her childhood in Madras, Calcutta, and Bombay. In a media conversation, she said,
I spent a lot of time in Madras growing up, and Calcutta and Bombay in my teen and adult years.”
Height (approx.): 5′ 1″
Weight (approx.): 55 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Her father’s name is Dr L. Subramaniam, and he is a prominent Indian violinist. Her mother, Viji Subramaniam, was an Indian classical singer.
Her grandfather’s name is V. Lakshminarayana, and he was a musician.
The name of her grandmother is Lakshmi Shankar who was an Indian classical singer and the sister-in-law of prominent Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar.
Gingger Shankar has two brothers and a sister. The names of his brothers are Dr Narayana Subramaniam and Ambi Subramaniam. Both of them are Indian musicians.
Her sister’s name is Bindu Subramaniam, and she is an Indian classical singer.
Gingger Shankar is not married.
Gingger Shankar started performing live musical shows and concerts at the age of fourteen. As a teenager, her first musical show was at Madison Square Garden. She then worked as a professional singer with Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Osvaldo Golijov’s opera named Ainadamar. Later, this song was sung by her at Carnegie Hall, a concert venue in New York City.
After venturing into the music industry, she received the opportunity to work with several noted singers, producers, and film composers such as The Smashing Pumpkins, Saul Williams, Mike Nichols, Meryl Streep, RocNation, Marilyn Manson, Peter Gabriel, and Steve Vai.
Gingger Shankar, along with the composer John Debney, composed music for the film The Passion of the Christ in 2004. She then composed the songs for the film The Forbidden Kingdom in 2008. In 2011, the songs of the film Circumstance were composed by Gingger Shankar and the film won the Sundance Audience Choice Award in the same year.
Gingger Shankar, along with Indian musicians L. Shankar, Zakir Hussain, and Vikku Vinayakram, composed the songs for the music album Enlightenment in 2003. In 2008, the music album titled The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! was released by her in a collaboration with composer Saul Williams. In 2010, Gingger Shankar and Solo EP jointly composed the songs for the music album ‘Anywhere But Here.’ In 2013, Gingger Shankar worked as a music composer for the film Monsoon Shootout under the direction of Amit Kumar. During the same year, this film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Gingger Shankar worked with Katy Perry in 2013 by playing the double violin in Katy’s song Legendary Lovers. In 2014, she lent her voice and music to the film Brahmin Bulls, which was opened in the US. In the same year, this film was felicitated with several awards and accolades. In 2015, Gingger Shankar worked with the US director Nonny De La Peña in the film ‘Project Syria,’ which was a virtual documentary and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. She composed and co-directed the theme song for the presidential elections in America in 2020. In the same year, she released her song “Promises of Our Grandmothers.” In the following year, the Nobel Prize Summit featured this song for the award nomination.
In 2012, Gingger Shankar made her debut in film documentaries by releasing her musical project ‘Himalaya Song’ at the Sundance Film Festival. Gingger Shankar, along with Mridu Chandra, narrated the story of the documentary film under the Shanghai Restoration Project. A documentary titled Akicita: The Battle of Standing Rock was produced by Gingger Shankar in 2018, and in the same year, this short film was at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2020, she featured noted American singers Aloe Blacc, Tarriona ‘Tank’ Ball, and Saul William in her music album titled ‘And She Could Be Next.’
A non-profit organisation named Little Indian Girl was organised by Gingger Shankar in India after she marked her name in the music industry. This organisation was established by her to empower young Indian girls with a passion for artistry. Through this NGO, Gingger Shankar began providing sponsorships and scholarships in the fields of science, music, and leadership. Along with the Little Indian Girl project, Gingger Shankar started ‘Promises of Our Grandmothers’ and ‘Nari’ projects. In the project Promises of Our Grandmothers, Gingger Shankar focuses on writing down the environmental issues and problems faced by the Indian women groups in India. In the Nari project, she focuses on recording the stories and problems faced by the women who belonged to India’s first music family. In the Nari project, she narrated the experiences and stories of her mother, Viji Subramaniam, and grandmother, Lakshmi Shankar, who tried to establish Indian music in the west and faced several challenges artistically and personally in India.
After years in the music industry, Gingger Shankar co-founded her own music record label titled Naughty Horses Records. This label gives opportunities to women artists from all across the world to release the music composed by them. Additionally, this record helps in preserving the global old classical recordings, and many of the recordings preserved by this label belong to the Shankar family and its songs date back to the 1930s.
In 2012, after the release of her multimedia project ‘Himalaya Song’ (on climate change), Rolling Stone ranked this music album as one of the ’10 Best Music Films at Sundance.’ During the same year, Gingger Shankar was ranked as ‘25 New Faces to Watch’ by Filmmaker Magazine.
- Gingger Shankar is an accomplished dancer and an expert in playing violin and piano. Gingger Shankar joined some noted stage productions in America and started modelling and acting soon after attaining music education from professional opera singer Tantoo Cardinal.
- Gingger Shankar sings in the Pop, Rock, Electronica, World, and Carnatic genres and is a master in Vocals, Double violin, Violin, and Viola.
- According to Gingger Shankar, her favourite singers include the Beatles, Madonna, M.S. Subbulakshmi, Lata Mangeshkar, Ella Fitzgerald, Bach, and Billie Holiday.
- The father of Gingger Shankar married Indian playback singer Kavita Krishnamurthy in November 1999 after four years of the death of Gingger’s mother, Viji Subramaniam, who died on 9 February 1995.
- Gingger Shankar stated in a media interview that she liked fashion and modelling. She added in the same conversation that fashion and music were closely associated with each other. She said,
I love fashion and I think music and fashion go hand in hand. I worked with various companies modelling for clothing and music companies. What I really want is to meet upcoming designers in India to collaborate with.”
- Gingger Shankar was selected to attend the Sundance Institute Composer’s Lab in 2007, and she was one of the six film composers who attended this Film Music Program, which was led by Peter Golub with the aim to connect the composers and directors to give them first-hand experience in music collaboration.
- Gingger Shankar is a member of the Artist Advisory Board of the Sundance Film Festival. She is also associated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
- Gingger Shankar is a master in playing the double violin, and she is considered the first female in the world to master the same. In a media conversation, Gingger Shankar disclosed that she learnt 10-string double violin very slowly, and when she started to learn the same, it was very challenging. She narrated,
Very slowly! It was definitely very challenging to learn. I actually started playing the violin and cello and found it difficult to carry many instruments around to shows and to mic them. The double violin covered the entire orchestra range, so once I started on that, I have always used it. It has such a unique sound and it plays such a big part in my live shows as well as my soundtrack scores.”
- Gingger Shankar is often invited by various live motivational shows as a guest orator. She often delivers speeches on the topics of the empowerment and education of girls in India at TEDx. She is an environmental advocate and often speaks on several environment preservation topics at noted international speaking platforms including Davos, UNESCO, the Nobel Prize Summit, Carbon Footprint Summit, and the Cartier Women’s Initiative.
- Several well-known national and international magazines and tabloids often feature Gingger Shankar in their articles.
- Gingger Shankar regularly shares her music videos on various social media platforms. Over 67k people follow her Facebook page. On Instagram, she has over 36k followers. Her YouTube channel has over four hundred subscribers.
- In June 2022, she received the opportunity to compose a song in a Marvel project, Ms Marvel, and upon grabbing this chance, Gingger Shankar became the first Indian singer to work with Marvel Studios. In this American web series, Pakistani rapper Eva B worked along with Gingger Shankar and composed the song ‘Rozi.’ On one of her social media accounts, Gingger Shankar stated that this was an unbelievable opportunity for her to compose a song for Marvel Studios as she had been a huge fan of Marvel since she was a teenager. Gingger Shankar said,
I’ve always been a fan of Marvel, but if you had told me five years ago that we would be creating a hip-hop track with Pakistani and Indian influences, with the first female Pakistani rapper I wouldn’t have believed it! I think it makes me more of a fan honestly.”