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Sitar Player Shanta Nurullah Part of an All-Women Band

Compiled by Alice Itty Email Compiled by Alice Itty
May 2016
Sitar Player Shanta Nurullah Part of an All-Women Band


Snapshots from Indian-American history
this month, that year


May 6, 1983
—A flyer announces a concert performed by the all-women band “Sojourner” at the Katherine Dunham Theater in Chicago.

Shanta Nurullah (born Velma Patrice Neal) was an African-American college student in the turbulent late 60s, who went to India to study the Dalits, discovered the sitar, and fell in love with it. She returned and cofounded Sojourner.

One of the things she really delighted in was learning the Rupak taal, a rhythmic cycle in 7/4 time commonly used in Indian classical music, and as she found later, in jazz.

For more of her powerful story, see

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