Shubhendra Rao was born on November 26, 1964 in Mysore city in the state of Karnataka in Southern India. From a very young age, Shubhendra showed great talent for music. His father, the late N R Rama Rao (who was one of the earliest and closest disciples of Pandit Ravi Shankar), initiated him into the intricacies of the sitar. His mother, Nagaratna, is a trained Saraswati Veena player. Growing up in a house where there was music all the time, it was natural for him to pick up an instrument. Shubhendra's parents always told him, that even before he could talk, he could sing musical notes.