How Indian Talent Won Big at the Grammys

Shankar Mahadevan, Zakir Hussain, V. Selvaganesh, and Ganesh Rajagopalan of Shakti, winners of the "Global Music Album" award for "This Moment", pose in the press room at the 66th GRAMMY Awards at Peacock Theater on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles. Credit - Emma McIntyre—Getty Images/The Recording Academy

Indian jazz band Shakti bagged Best Global Music Album for This Moment—their first studio release in 46 years—at Sunday’s 2024 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.

The recently reunited fusion band, once named “Turiyananda Sangit,” was originally founded by British guitarist John McLaughlin, Indian tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, and percussionist Vikku Vinayakram in 1973; they were soon joined by violinist L. Shankar and the late mridangam maestro Ramnad Raghavan. The five released three albums before disbanding in 1977; the band briefly launched a spinoff in 1997 called Remember Shakti and would regroup in 2020 with McLaughlin, Hussain, vocalist Shankar Mahadevan, percussionist V. Selvaganesh, and violinist Ganesh Rajagopalan.

Mahadevan, Selvaganesh, and Rajagopalan secured the band’s Grammy award alongside founding members McLaughlin and Hussain.

As a result of their long-term hiatus, Shakti is lesser known among younger audiences but with present-day academy recognition—and a 50th anniversary world tour last year—they could be set to return to global prominence. This Moment, released on June 30, comprises eight songs by the group. The album won against popular Nigerian musician Burna Boys I Told Them…, Nigerian American singer Davido, global group Bokanté, and Peruvian singer-songwriter Susana Baca.

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“Thank you boys. Thank you God, family, friends, and India. We are proud of you India,” Mahadevan said in the group’s award acceptance speech. “Last but not the least, I would like to dedicate this award to my wife, whom every note of my music is dedicated to you.”

“Thank you everyone, thank you Recording Academy for recognizing us,” Rajagopalan added.

McLaughlin was absent from Sunday’s ceremony, while Hussain did not appear on stage again after nabbing another win earlier in the night for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for his contribution to As We Speak, a Indo-Western jazz project with Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer, and Indian flutist Rakesh Chaurasia. The four won Best Global Music Performance for their song Pashto, making it a big night for Indian talent.

“It is really a proud moment for me, winning two Grammy Awards for my country,” Chaurasia said.

On Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Shakti on their win, calling the award a “phenomenal success” on X. “Your exceptional talent and dedication to music have won hearts worldwide. India is proud! These achievements are a testament to the hardwork you keep putting in,” he wrote. “It will also inspire the new generation of artists to dream big and excel in music.”

Taylor Swift, TIME’s 2023 Person of the Year, on Sunday became the first artist to win Album of the Year four times with Midnights and she announced a new album to come in April.

The decision for Album of the Year prompted Jay-Z to criticize the Recording Academy for snubbing his wife Beyoncé, who has never won the award despite multiple Grammy wins and nominations.

Write to Armani Syed at