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Nitin Sawhney

Nitin Sawhney is widely regarded as one of the most influential and versatile creative talents on the music scene - with numerous strings to his bow.

At 45, Nitin had eight studio albums, 17 major national awards and more than 40 film scores under his belt.

Nitin grew up in Rochester, where as a child he completed his piano grades by the age of 11, also taking up flamenco guitar at the age of eight.

It was en-route to a music lesson in Kensington that Nitin discovered jazz – listening to Miles Davis album on the car radio which prompted his purchase the next day of A Kind of Blue.

Inspired by his mother, an Indian classical dancer, Nitin also added Sitar to his childhood repertoire but, as a product of his time, it wasn’t long before he was plucking the strings in a punk rock band.

He said: “As an Asian kid there was a very strong emphasis on academic study and I went to study law at Liverpool University. During Uni, I’d go out most evenings and play to local bars and there I met a lot of jazz musicians.”

Although Nitin went on to qualify in accountancy, his yearning for a different life came when he walked out of his job as a financial controller at a hotel and went to join a friend’s band – the James Taylor Quartet.

From his emergence onto the Acid Jazz scene and early work with the likes of Courtney Pine, Nitin has journeyed long and hard, collaborating with a host of artists including Sting, Paul McCartney, Sinead O Connor, Jeff Beck, Brian Eno, Fink and Will Young.

He has also established himself as a leading composer for film, dance and theatre and recent works include orchestral scores for Mira Nair’s The Namesake, Sony Playstation 3’s Heavenly Sword and Franz Osten’s silent film classic A Throw of the Dice which he wrote for the London Symphony Orchestra. He has also scored Olivier award winning productions such as Akram Khan’s Zero Degrees and Complicite’s A Disappearing Number.

His ability to transcend cultural barriers has also gained him recognition with the classical community and Nitin is the only artist to have performed at and sold out both the traditional BBC Prom and pop orientated BBC Electric Prom in his own right.

He said: “When you are a musician you are doing exactly what you dreamt of doing and it only ever feels like work when you have to sort out budgets and pull projects together.”

As well as appearing regularly on television as a commentator on arts and current affairs, Nitin is passionate about education and community building and delighted to be receiving honorary doctorates in 2009 from Staffordshire, Sussex and Roehampton, having already received honours from LIPA and the Universities of Kent and Southbank.

In  2017,  he  received  the  Ivor  Novello  Lifetime  Achievement  award for songwriting and composing. His career continued with completing the entire composition of Warner Bros / Netflix film 'Mowgli', the world premiere debut in 2018.

Photo of Nitin Sawhney

Nitin Sawhney was bestowed the award in 2009

This is an amazing honour and I like the idea of having links with Universities. I’m trying to look at music from a diverse perspective and do a lot of workshops with young people. I always learn something and it’s a great way of staying in touch.

Nitin Sawhney