East Meets West
The eclectic music of Manisha Shahane
“VIRGINIA” the University of Virginia Alumni News Magazine, Spring 2004
The singer-songwriter Manisha Shahane grew up performing in two very
different musical traditions. As a youth in Southside Virginia, she ranged
between Western tunes and Hindi film songs, often accompanied by her
father on tabla, Indian-style drums. On family visits to India, her
paternal grandmother taught her the Saptha Swarams, the seven-note Indian
classical equivalent of the Western scale, while her aunts taught her to
read and write in Marathi and Hindi.
These divergent cultural threads weave throughout on her debut album,
Peace In Progress, which is rooted in folk, jazz, Western classical and
Indian traditions. It features Shahane on voice and piano, Blake Newman on
acoustic bass and Jerry Leake on tabla/percussion. Notable Boston-area
musicians also make appearances. The Marathi language of her youth also
makes an appearance.
Her music features "complex rhythms and well-constructed melody lines Š
with unexpected harmonic twists Š and [a] flair for meaningful lyrics,"
says Northeast Performer.
The fledging solo artist studied economics and international relations at
U.Va., but always made space for music, recording and touring with the
female a cappella group Virginia Belles, for which she also wrote and
arranged original compositions. During graduate school at Dartmouth
College's Tuck School of Business and the Fletcher School of Law and
Diplomacy at Tufts University, Shahane continued to perform with a
cappella groups and fronted a rock band. Before moving to the Boston area,
she was a lead singer with the rock band Distraction in the Washington,
D.C., area, appearing at venues such as The Bayou.
These days, Shahane performs her original material with her own band,
Manishamusic, plays with several Boston-area groups, and sings with the
Grammy-nominated Chorus pro Musica. Samples of her material can be heard
A portion of the sales from Peace In Progress will benefit the Virginia
Belles if purchased directly from Shahane at P.O. Box 391753, Cambridge,
MA 01239. Please make the check payable to Manisha Shahane in the amount