Shankar Mahadevan dons the doctorate hat; builds links with Birmingham

Shankar Mahadevan, who has been described as one of the greatest ever Bollywood vocalists, was given the award at a special ceremony held at the University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC)..Rahul Laud reports

Shankar Mahadevan has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University (BCU) in recognition of his outstanding services to music and the arts at a special ceremony held at the University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC) last Saturday. He was also presented with a bespoke medal made by students at the University’s renowned School of Jewellery.

A student ensemble who performed at the ceremony led by Dr Radhika Balakrishnan, a Carnatic classical vocalist and BCU’s first-ever Indian Council for Cultural Relations Chair in Indian Studies who is also a teacher at the Shankar Mahadevan Academy has helped Mahadevan to strengthen his ties with the University. Mahadevan has expressed a keen desire to join hands with BCU and form a tie-up between his Academy and the University. Another testimony to this fact was demonstrated at the event as Ghanshyam Nabar, Director of West Midlands India Partnership interviewed him on stage giving a clear signal that Birmingham was very keen to forge ties between Indian artists of eminence like Mahadevan and the West Midlands region. Mahadevan spoke about his early life, musical influences, and Bollywood career.

To support Mahadevan’s vision and mission none other than Ustad Zakir Hussain, Indian tabla player, composer, and percussionist, and John McLaughlin, legendary guitarist and a pioneer of jazz fusion joined him on stage and also participated in an impromptu jamming session with the University students to the delight of the audience.

Receiving the honorary doctorate, Shankar Mahadevan said: “This is a moment I will cherish – and I want to thank Birmingham City University for making this happen.”

“It’s like a dream for me. Having my family in the audience, this is special. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those gurus from whom I’ve learned so much.”

Professor Philip Plowden, Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “Shankar is also an educational innovator who believes in making the best tuition available to talented aspiring musicians. We are honoured to have the opportunity to formally bring Shankar into our University community.” university honour

Mahadevan, who has been described as one of the greatest ever Bollywood vocalists, was given the award at a special ceremony held at the University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC) on Saturday (24 June).

A member of the internationally renowned Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy songwriting trio, he has composed music for scores of Bollywood films and established the Shankar Mahadevan Academy, which provides educational opportunities for aspiring musicians. His most famous album, ‘Breathless’, released in 1998, topped the charts in India for over 10 weeks, and he has 18 million monthly listeners on Spotify. An accomplished engineer-turned-musician, Shankar Mahadevan’s melodic singing, and compositions have captivated audiences in India and around the world.

Anita Bhalla OBE, Chair of the Board of Governors at BCU and a past BBC executive and broadcaster, said: “We are delighted to recognise Shankar’s distinguished musical career and his outstanding contribution to the development of up-and-coming talent.

Shankar Mahadevan with GhanShyam Nabar, Director, West Midlands India Partnership

“This event symbolises so many themes that are important to our University. It’s about creativity, collaboration, partnerships, and being future-facing, welcoming people from the region, the wider UK, and also from across the world.”

Dignitaries from various walks of life attended the event. Head honchos from Trade and Investments sectors were also present to understand the dynamics of the West Midlands region. Mumbai-based Harjinder Kang, HM Trade Commissioner for South Asia and Deputy High Commissioner for Western Region, Siddharth Mukne from UKIBC, Gursheen Sahani who is Head of Corridor & Business Development – South Asia Business Group · Grant Thornton UK, Neelabh Chatterjee who runs two branded hotels in West Midlands, Dr. Prof Anitha Chinnaswamy from Aston University, Abhijit Aphale who is a tech entrepreneur, Dr. Prof Paraga Singhal from BAPIO Training Academy was among the many other celebrities and stalwarts present on the occasion.

Birmingham City University is a large and diverse place to study in the heart of the city. The University’s mission is to transform the lives of its students by offering a wide range of contemporary, flexible courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, with practice-based learning and international opportunities built into every stage.


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