Vidushi Dr. Kamala Shankar is one of the leading and renowned Indian Classical Slide Guitarist of India with regular performances of Hindustani Classical Music, both in India and abroad. She is the first lady in this specialized art of music that has enthralled the audience at every concert with her immaculate and melodious renditions. She is known for her tremendous control on the stringed instrument along with an in-depth knowledge of playing this specialized guitar in its Gayaki Ang (tonal quality which vocalizes the music) which has ever mesmerized the audience for the past 40 years. For this, her guitar renditions are popularly known as ‘The Singing Guitar’. With her creative dedication and devotion to enhance music with a constant experimental research with an aim to improvise and adapt this western instrument (guitar) to indigenization and for her significant achievements and contribution to promote Indian Classical Music, she has been conferred with the ‘National Kumar Gandharva Award’ in 2013 by the Government of Madhya Pradesh. Dr. Kamala was the first slide guitar player to be conferred with the award.

Dr. Kamala Shankar has the credit to improvise the standard Hawaiian guitar to its new form and named Shankar Slide Guitar, dedicated to the deity of Varanasi,Lord Shankar.The improvised guitar is made of solid cedar wood having a hollow body with no sound hole. The sound board is thicker. These changes have completely improved the sound quality giving it an even and sustaining sound on all its strings giving a distinct Indian tonal quality which our ears are so very used to. Even the numbers of strings have changed to four main strings and three chikari strings with eleven sympathetic strings.

Dr. Kamala was Born in Tanjore and brough up in Varanasi to a cultured Samaritan South Indian Doctor’s family. Her musical journey started at the age of 4 when she was tutored by her mother Smt Vijaya Shankar, a carnatic vocalist by herself. Her former years at learning vocal music was under her first teacher, Guru Pandit Amarnath Mishra of Varanasi and learnt Hindustani classical vocal for eight straight years. The most momentous discovery in Kamala Shankar’s life was the Hawaiian slide guitar. Her initial training of Guitar started with Dr. Shivnath Bhattacharya when she was 12. After that she was given valuable guidance by her Guru Padmabhushan Pt. Chhannulal Mishra Ji (Kirana Gharana) of Varanasi. She has not only learnt classical but also the Poorab Ang like Thumri, Kajari, Dadra, and Chaiti with Rabindra Sangeet and Bhajan. Later on she was under the able guidance of Pt. Bimalendu Mukherjee for the next few years. Kamala completed her Doctorate on Guitar in 1995 under the guidance of late Dr. Gopal Shankar Mishra (a renowned Vichitra Veena and Sitar Player) from Banaras Hindu University. With this, she achieved the unique distinction of being the first Indian to have a Doctorate Degree on Slide Guitar (Hindustani).

Dr. Kamala is presently assessed as a Top graded Guitar Artist of AIR and has many performances including National Programmes, Sangeet Sarita series of Vividh Bharti Mumbai, Radio Sangeet Sammelan of Akashwani & in Doordarshan. Besides music, Dr. Kamala has also excelled academically and completed her Bachelor's Degree (Zoology) and was selected on merit to join Medical College but for her love for music, she decided to choose music as a career.

Dr. Kamala represented India as a cultural representative of an exchange programme under the banner of Group Study Exchange Program with Rotary International & visited Texas [U.S.] and London in 1992. Dr. Kamala has performed at several prestigious music festivals of India such as Tansen Samaroh, Sawai Gandharva Samaroh Pune, Kalidas Samaroh, Taj Mahotsav, Music Academy Chennai, Bihar Mahotsav Patna, Ganga Mahotsav, Soorya Festival Kerala, Harvallabh Sangeet Samaroh Jalandhar, Sankat Mochan Samaroh Varanasi, ICCR, Shimla Mahotsav, Simhasth Kumbh Ujjain, Hornbill Festival Kohima Nagaland and many more.

She has also performed in International festivals such as Trafo Music Festival Budapest Hungary and Sai International Festival Middle East. In addition, she has had performances in U.S.A. (Texas San Antonio, San Marcos, Houston, Boston, Fredicksberg) UK (London), Switzerland, Gulf of Dubai, Al-Sharjah, Bahrain, Muscat, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, France, Singapore etc.

She has been awarded the Junior & Senior Fellowship in the Field of Music by the Ministry of Human Resources Development Govt. of India, ‘Surmani’ from Sur Singar Samsad Mumbai, ‘Kalashree Samman’ by Journalist association,”Pragya Bharti Samman” by Mehta Nyas Samooh Varanasi, ‘Durga Samman’ by Veena Venu Arts Foundation Mumbai,”Naad Ratna Samman” by Dhrupad Trust Jaipur,”Sangeet Ratna Alankaran” by Kashi Sangeet Samaj Varanasi, and the most prestigious National Award ‘Rashtriya Kumar Gandharva Samman’ 2009 conferred by M.P. Government in 2013.

Dr. Kamala has performed with musicians such as Hindustani Flautist Pt. Ronu Majumdar, Vidushi Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh, Ustad Fazal Qureshi, and Vidwan Mannargudi Ishwaran, Dr.Gopal Shankar Mishra, Violin Maestro Lalita Nandini etc.Dr Kamala has been empanelled with ICCR since 1994 and registered artiste of SPIC-MACAY since 1998.

Dr. Kamala is the founder Director of Shankara Arts Foundation, a seat for learning music in a Guru-Shishya-Parampara way based at Varanasi which was created in 2007. The mission is to promote and encourage artists based exclusively on talent, and not by inheritance of musical legacy by birth alone. The foundation conducts chamber concerts, lecture-demonstration and workshop series every quarterly. The Shankara Music Festival is held every year and is dedicated to the legendary vocalist "Bharatratna" Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi, through which the foundation offers platform for the established and young talented artists as well. Dr. Kamala has many student researchers studying music through contact programs all over India and abroad. She teaches music free of charge following the traditions of her family.

She has many music albums to her credit from H.M.V. (R.P.G.) as "Music Melody on Hawaiian Guitar”, Jhankar Music Company as "Rich Heritage", and Mystica Music Company as "Tantarang" etc. and many You Tube Videos.