(From left) Ustad Ali Akbar Khan’s widow Mary Khan, her eldest son Alam, youngest son Manik, Sue Jones, her daughter Norah, and Mary’s daughter Madina at Pandit Ravi Shankar's memorial service in Encinitas, California, on December 20.
Dec. 31: A poignant moment at Pandit Ravi Shankar’s memorial service in California’s Encinitas on December 20 went largely unnoticed outside: among the mourners was Sue Jones, the mother of the maestro’s daughter Norah.
Sue was there “for the whole time” during the memorial, a person who was present at the event told The Telegraph last week. She was “seated in the front row designated for the Shankar family, along with Norah; Shankar’s widow Sukanya; daughter Anoushka; her husband Joe Wright; Linda, the widow of Shubhendra Shankar (Ravi Shankar’s son from his first marriage with Annapurna Devi) their children and grandchildren,” the source said.
The source, however, added that neither Sue nor Norah read out condolence messages.
Ravi Shankar had a relationship with Sue, a concert promoter in New York, in the late 1970s. Their child Norah was born in New York in 1979. Ravi Shankar broke up with Sue in 1986 and was reportedly not in touch with mother and daughter for more than a decade.
In 1981, Anoushka was born in London to him and Sukanya Rajan. Ravi Shankar married Sukanya in 1989.
In 2003 — the year Norah won five Grammy awards — the two families reconciled.
However, Sue, who brought up Norah alone in America, rarely said anything in public about her relationship with Ravi Shankar. Following her break-up with Ravi Shankar, she moved from New York to her ancestral place in Texas, where Norah grew up.
Sue is known to eschew publicity to such an extent that no comments were attributed to her on the late maestro’s music or her relationship with him even after his death. Norah had said in an interview in 2007 that her mother didn’t want her to talk about him and that it was “kind of a secret”.
The family of the late sarod maestro, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, was also present at the memorial service. Khan’s widow Mary, who now runs the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, attended the event along with her eldest son Alam, 30, youngest son Manik, 27, and daughter Madina, 21.
Since Alam also featured in a photograph that showed Sue, The Telegraph asked him about the memorial. Alam declined to comment on who had attended the event but said: “My father and Pandit Ravi Shankar were my grandfather Baba Allauddin Khan’s dynamic duo, who were sent out to share his musical message with the world. It was this message that the western world fell in love with, and it eventually helped pave the way for so many other Indian musicians.”