In order to convey the magic of melodious voice in a good song, a female singer is needed whose voice is sweet and the heart melts as soon as you hear the song. So today we have brought for you a list of some such playback singers, who are known not only for their voice but all over India, but also in other countries of the world.
Indian cultural scene is packed with heaps of talent when it comes to singing. A huge audience enjoys the singing of female singers and these singers have made music an inseparable part of their fans’ lives. Their singing has the power to lift moods and also touch the deepest human emotions. These female singers rule the hearts. There are many fresh talents as well who are making a place in the cultural panorama and also in the Indian film industry or Bollywood. In fact, Bollywood has produced a lot of female singers who are highly acclaimed for their sweet voices. Here’s a list of the most popular female singers in India. Some of these singers have had a more successful career than their male counterparts. Their songs are still popular in India and even abroad. These singers have touched many lives and many are still coloring the lives of their millions of fans.
Alka Yagnik (born 20 March 1966) is an Indian playback singer. She is noted in Indian cinema for a career spanning over three decades. She holds a record of being the only nominee in the category of Female Playback Singer, as in the year 1994 she had three solo nominations and the fourth one was with Ila Arun.
She is a record seven-time winner from a record of 36 nominations of the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer, a two-time recipient of the National Film Award as well as several other music awards and honours listed below. Further, as many as twenty of her tracks feature in BBC’s “Top 40 Bollywood Soundtracks of all time” review. She is one of the prolific female playback singers who has sung maximum number of female solos in her Bollywood career. She is ranked No. 1 in the YouTube’s Music Charts & Insights list of top global artists as of 16 July 2020. She has been on the chart for 200 weeks with 403 million views.
Asha Bhosle (born 8 September 1933) is an Indian playback singer and an entrepreneur. She is best known for her playback singing in Hindi cinema, although she has a wider repertoire. Bhosle’s career started in 1943 and has spanned over seven decades. She has done playback singing for over a thousand Bollywood movies. In addition, she has recorded several private albums and participated in numerous solo concerts in India and abroad. In 2006, Asha Bhosle stated that she had sung over 12,000 songs, a figure repeated by several other sources. In 2011, she was officially acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most recorded artist in music history. The Government of India honoured her with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2000 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008. Bhosle is the sister of playback singer Lata Mangeshkar.
Renowned for her soprano voice range and often credited for her versatility, Bhosle’s work includes film music, pop, ghazals, bhajans, traditional Indian classical music, folk songs, qawwalis, and Rabindra Sangeet. Apart from Hindi, she has sung in over 20 Indian and foreign languages. In 2013, she made her debut as an actress in the film Mai, and received critical acclaim for her performance.
Usha Uthup (born 7 November 1947) is an Indian pop, filmi, jazz, and playback singer who sang songs in the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. “Darling”, which she recorded with Rekha Bhardwaj for the film 7 Khoon Maaf, won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer in 2012.
She also sang the title song for the show Sarabhai vs Sarabhai in its first season.
Usha Uthup started her music career in Chennai in 1969, singing in a small nightclub called Nine Gems in the basement of the erstwhile Safire theatre complex on Mount Road, wearing a saree and leg callipers. Her performance was so well received that the owner of the nightclub asked her to stay on for a week. After her first night club gig, she began singing in Calcutta at night clubs such as “Trincas”. She met her future husband Uthup in Trincas. At about the same time, she also sang at “Talk of the Town”, now known as “Not Just Jazz by the Bay” in Bombay (now Mumbai). After Trincas, her next engagement took her to Delhi where she sang at the Oberoi hotels. By happenstance, a film crew belonging to Navketan unit and Dev Anand visited the nightclub and they offered her a chance to sing movie playback. As a result, she started her Bollywood career with Ivory-Merchant’s Bombay Talkies (1970) in which she sang an English number under Shanker-Jaikishan and then Hare Rama Hare Krishna. Originally, she was supposed to sing Dum Maro Dum along with Asha Bhosle for Hare Rama Hare Krishna. However, as a result of internal politicking on the part of other singers, she lost that chance but ended up singing an English verse.
Kanika Kapoor (born 21 August 1978) is an Indian singer. She was born and raised in Lucknow. She always aspired to pursue a career in singing, but she married businessman Raj Chandok in 1997 and moved to London, where she gave birth to three children. After getting a divorce from Raj in 2012, she relocated to Mumbai to become a singer. Kapoor’s first song “Jugni Ji” (2012) was for a music video–which became a commercial success. In 2014, she began her Bollywood playback singing career with the song “Baby Doll” for the film Ragini MMS 2. Upon its release, the song topped the music charts and Kapoor received wide critical acclaim and several accolades for her singing style, including the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer.
Kapoor subsequently earned widespread recognition and success for singing one of the Hindi cinema’s top charted songs, including “Lovely” and “Kamlee” for the film Happy New Year (2014), “Chittiyaan Kalaiyaan” for the film Roy (2015), “Desi Look” for the film Ek Paheli Leela (2015), “Nachan Farrate” for the film All Is Well (2015), “Jugni Peeke Tight Hai” for the film Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon (2015), “Jab Chaye Tera Jadoo” for the film Main Aur Charles (2015), “Neendein Khul Jaati Hain” for the film Hate Story 3 (2015), “Premika” for the film Dilwale (2015), the later of these rank among the highest-grossing Bollywood film. The song “Da Da Dasse” from the film Udta Punjab (2016), earned her several Best Playback Singer awards and nominations—following which she sang the songs, “Hug Me” from Beiimaan Love (2016), “Luv Letter” from the film The Legend of Michael Mishra (2016) and “Beat Pe Booty” from the film A Flying Jatt (2016), all of which earned her further success.
In March 2020 after returning from London, she attended few parties with Indian politicians and VIPs at Hotel Taj, Lucknow, against Government of India – Ministry of Health’s home quarantine advisory against Coronavirus at the time. Subsequently, she was tested positive for COVID-19. A domino effect lead President of India to cancel his plans, and engagements indefinitely. A complaint was lodged against her for her negligence.
Neeti Mohan (born 20 November 1978) is an Indian singer. She sings mainly in Hindi films, but has also done songs in Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi, and English. Born in Delhi, she was one of the winners of the Channel V’s reality show Popstars, subsequently being chosen for Aasma, with other winners of the show. She rose to prominence after recording “Ishq Wala Love” from Student of the Year (2012), ultimately winning the Filmfare RD Burman Award for New Music Talent and was nominated for the Best Female Playback Singer for “Jiya Re” from Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012).
Her rendition of six jazz tracks in the soundtrack album of Amit Trivedi’s Bombay Velvet (2015) received positive response from the music critics. The following year, she received her second Filmfare nomination with the song “Sau Aasmaan” from Baar Baar Dekho (2016). In that year, Mohan appeared as a coach in the 1st season of The Voice India Kids and the second season of The Voice India. Besides her career in music, she has also been involved in various charities and social causes.
Neha Kakkar (born 6 June 1988) is an Indian singer. She began performing at religious events at the age of four and participated in the second season of the singing reality show, Indian Idol, in which she was eliminated early. She made her Bollywood debut as a chorus singer in the film Meerabai Not Out. She rose to prominence upon the release of the dance track “Second Hand Jawani” from Cocktail which was followed by several other popular party songs including “Sunny Sunny” from Yaariyan and “London Thumakda” from Queen.
Afterwards, she mostly performed party tracks like “Aao Raja” from Gabbar Is Back, “Tu Isaq Mera” from Hate Story 3, “Humne Pee Rakhi Hai” from Sanam Re and “Kar Gayi Chull” from Kapoor & Sons. She proved her versatility in musical range with the release of “Mile Ho Tum” from Fever which topped the list of most-viewed Bollywood songs on YouTube. She then released several chart-busters which made into the same list, including “Aankh Maarey” from Simmba, “Dilbar” from Satyameva Jayate , “Badri Ki Dulhania” from Badrinath Ki Dulhania, “Cheez Badi” from Machine, “Kala Chashma” for the film Baar Baar Dekho and the private single “Nikle Currant”, all of which crossed over six hundred million views. Similarly, “Dilbar” marks the first Indian song to reach number three spot on the Billboard YouTube Music Chart.
From 2017 onwards, Kakkar, primarily, in collaboration with Tanishk Bagchi, became more associated with the trend of remaking old to very recent songs, which resulted in several backlashes targeted for the singer, though she personally favoured the trend of recreations and opined that they have been well-appreciated. Apart from playback singing, Kakkar has appeared in several music videos and as a judge on several television reality shows including “Indian Idol” On these shows, she has been trolled in social media several times for crying on-screen. She openly admits that she is a “proud emotional girl.” She appeared in the India Forbes Celebrity 100 in 2017 and 2019.
In 2019, Kakkar was listed among the most viewed female artists on Youtube with 4.2 billion views.
Palak Muchhal (born 30 March 1992) is an Indian playback singer. She and her younger brother Palash Muchhal perform stage shows across India and abroad to raise funds for the poor children who need financial assistance for the medical treatment of heart diseases. As of 6 October 2020, she has raised funds through her charity shows which has helped to save lives of 2200 children suffering from heart ailments. Muchhal has made her entry in both Guinness Book of World Records and Limca Book of World Records for great achievements in social work. Her work is also recognised by the Government of India and other public institutions through various awards and honours. Muchhal also performs as a playback singer for Bollywood films. She has rendered her voice in Hindi films such as Ek Tha Tiger (2012), Aashiqui 2 (2013), Kick (2014) and Action Jackson (2014) Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015) M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016) Kaabil (2017), Baaghi 2 (2018) and Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas (2019). Her rendition of the song “Kaun Tujhe” from the film “M.S. Dhoni : The Untold Story” has earned her much praise from fans as well as prominent personalities in the Music Film Industry.
Lata Mangeshkar (born as Hema Mangeshkar on 28 September 1929) is an Indian playback singer and music director. She is one of the best-known and most respected playback singers in India. She has recorded songs in over a thousand Hindi films and has sung songs in over thirty-six regional Indian languages and foreign languages, though primarily in Marathi, Hindi, Bengali and Assamese.
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award was bestowed on her in 1989 by the Government of India. In 2001, in recognition of her contributions to the nation, she was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour and is only the second vocalist, after M. S. Subbulakshmi, to receive this honour. France conferred on her its highest civilian award, the Officer of the Legion of Honour, in 2007. She is the recipient of three National Film Awards, 15 Bengal Film Journalists’ Association Awards, four Filmfare Best Female Playback Awards, two Filmfare Special Awards, Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award and many more. In 1974, she became the first Indian to perform in the Royal Albert Hall.
She has four siblings—Meena Khadikar, Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar, and Hridaynath Mangeshkar—of whom she is the eldest.
Shreya Ghoshal (born 12 March 1984) is an Indian playback singer, composer and music producer. She has received four National Film Awards, four Kerala State Film Awards, two Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, seven Filmfare Awards including six for Best Female Playback Singer and ten Filmfare Awards South. She has recorded songs for films and albums in various Indian languages and has established herself as a leading playback singer of Indian cinema.
Ghoshal aspired to become a playback singer from an early age. At the age of four, she started learning music. At the age of six, she started her formal training in classical music. At the age of sixteen, she was noticed by the mother of film-maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali when she entered and won the television singing reality show Sa Re Ga Ma. Following that, she made her Bollywood playback singing debut with Bhansali’s romantic drama Devdas (2002) for which she received a National Film Award, a Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer and a Filmfare RD Burman Award for New Music Talent.
Apart from playback singing, Ghoshal has appeared as a judge on several television reality shows and she also appears in music videos. She performs in musical concerts around the world. She has been honoured by the United States state of Ohio, where Governor Ted Strickland declared 26 June 2010 as “Shreya Ghoshal Day”. In April 2013, she was honoured in London by the selected members of House of Commons of the United Kingdom. She has also featured five times in the Forbes list of the top 100 celebrities from India. In 2017, Ghoshal became the first Indian singer to have her wax figurine in Madame Tussauds Museum.
Sunidhi Chauhan (born 14 August 1983) is an Indian playback singer. Born in Delhi, she began performing in local gatherings at the age of four and made her career debut at the age of 12, with the film Shastra (1996). During the year, she won the first singing reality show titled Meri Awaz Suno and rose to prominence after recording “Ruki Ruki Si Zindagi” from Mast (1999). It won her Filmfare RD Burman Award for New Music Talent and was nominated for the Best Female Playback Singer.
Her second breakthrough was released in 2000, with the song “Mehboob Mere” from Fiza, for which she received another Filmfare nomination. Through her career, she performed mostly item songs and was described by the media as the “queen of item songs”. Chauhan received her third Filmfare nomination with the song “Dhoom Machale” from Dhoom (2004) followed by two more nominations during the next year for “Kaisi Paheli” and “Deedar De” from Parineeta and Dus (2005). In 2006, she was bestowed with her first Filmfare award for her rendition of the song “Beedi” from Omkara and further two nominations for “Soniye” from Aksar and “Aashiqui Main” from 36 China Town. The following year, she recorded the title song of Aaja Nachle (2007) and “Sajnaaji Vaari”, both critically and commercially well received. Chauhan received her twelfth Filmfare nomination with “Chor Bazaari” of Love Aaj Kal (2009) preceded by “Dance Pe Chance” from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008). In 2010, she received her second Filmfare award with the item song “Sheila Ki Jawani” (2010) and was nominated for international styled carnival song “Udi” from Guzaarish (2010). The year marked her International singing debut, where she was featured in an alternate version of the song “Heartbeat” by Enrique Iglesias.
Apart from playback singing, Chauhan has appeared as a judge on several television reality shows and she also appears in music videos. Besides her career in music, she has also been involved in various charities and social causes. She has appeared four times in Forbes’ Celebrity 100 of India (2012–2015).
Sona Mohapatra (born 17 June 1976) is an Indian singer, music composer and lyricist born in Cuttack, Odisha. In addition to her own material, Mohapatra has recorded remixes of songs by David Bowie, with “Let’s Dance”, and INXS, with “Afterglow”, with the latter proving particularly successful.
Her first ventures in music industry started with advertising. One of her most famous jingles was for Tata Salt – “Kal Ka Bharat Hai” & the campaign for Unilever’s Close Up has a section of her song “Paas Aao Na,” which has been recorded in several languages and aired across 13 countries for four consecutive years. In 2007, she released her debut album, Sona, on Sony Records, which sought to explore the diverse styles of rock, rhythm and blues, Flamenco, Hindustani, Baul and Romani music. In 2009, she released the single Diljale & Paas Aao Na in the same year. She sang the song “Bedardi Raja” in the movie Delhi Belly for Aamir Khan Productions and did a cameo in it. She has also sung the theme songs “Mujhe Kya Bechega Rupaiya” and “Ghar Yaad Aata Hai Mujhe” for the TV show Satyamev Jayate. Her song “Jiya Laage Na” from the soundtrack of Talaash received rave reviews upon its release. Sona has her own band composed of guitar virtuoso Sanjoy Das amongst five more musicians and is an electric live performer who has played at a multitude of live venues including the Lincoln Center in New York & to stadium crowds in India in Chandigarh, Chennai & Siliguri amongst others . She has also headlined the international Jodhpur RIFF festival held at the Mehrangarh Fort. The song “Bolo Na” from Sona was appreciated by the audience.
Aditi Singh Sharma
Aditi Singh Sharma (born 2 June 1986) is an Indian playback singer. She made her playback singing debut in Bollywood with Anurag Kashyap’s Dev.D. Sharma is known for her work in movies like Dev.D, No One Killed Jessica, Dhoom 3 and 2 States. She has performed in numerous live concerts. She has appeared on MTV’s Coke Studio and MTV Unplugged, her performance with Pritam & Arijit Singh at IIFA awards has received great reviews. She is currently managed by Mourjo Chatterjee (On Stage Talents)
Andrea Jeremiah is an Indian actress, playback singer and musician. She works predominantly in the Tamil and Malayalam film industries. She also appeares in Telugu films. She began her career as a playback singer, and has subsequently appeared in films.
Jeremiah has stated that her focus was always on music, that she chose to be a professional singer and that acting happened by chance. In 2005, she ventured into playback singing in feature films. She has sung several popular songs for composers Harris Jayaraj, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Anirudh Ravichander, Thaman, Devi Sri Prasad and G. V. Prakash Kumar and has also received nominations at Filmfare and Vijay Awards for a few of them. She considers the song “Maalai Neram” as the most challenging she has sung.
Alisha Chinai is an Indian pop singer known for her Indi-pop albums as well as playback singing in Hindi cinema. She began her singing career with the album Jadoo in 1985, and by the 1990s she had become known as the ‘Queen of Indipop’. Her best known songs were with producers Anu Malik and Biddu during the 1990s.
Anuradha Sriram (born 9 July 1970) is an Indian carnatic and playback singer who hails from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. She has sung more than 4,000 songs in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi films. Anuradha has performed extensively all over India and US, and has given many radio and TV programmes since the age of 12. Anuradha Sriram first entered the Tamil Cinema Industry as a child artist in the 1980 Tamil film Kaali. In 1995, she was introduced as a singer by A R Rahman for the song “Malarodu Malaringu” in the movie Bombay. Her first solo was for A R Rahman in Indira.
Anjali Marathe is an Indian playback singer and Hindustani vocalist. Anjali, a psychology graduate wanted to pursue medicine, but in Std XI she realised that her calling was music. She won the National Film Award for Best Playback Singer in 1996 at the age of 16 for her rendition of a song in the Marathi film Doghi. She recorded songs for Chaukat Raja (Marathi), Saibaba (Marathi), before Doghi (Marathi) and title songs for the serial – Jhuthe Sacche Gudde Bacche (Hindi), Olak Sangana (Marathi) at a young age of nine. She also recorded songs for All India Radio Pune for Balodyan (Programme for children). She has participated in many stage shows. She participated in Smaranayatra held at Jagtik Marathi Parishad in Mumbai. She participated in a programme for children, Chimangani. Anjali, besides these shows, also participates in elocution, dance, drama and street plays.
Anuradha Paudwal (born 27 October 1954) is an Indian playback singer who works predominantly in Bollywood. She was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award, by the Government of India in 2017. She is a recipient of the National Film Award and a four-time winner of the Filmfare Award. Although primarily a playback singer, she has also sung several bhajans.
Anushka Manchanda (born 11 February 1984) is an Indian singer, model, actress and former VJ. She came to prominence as a member of the Indipop girl group Viva!. Manchanda was also a participant in the reality television series Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and the winner of Khatron ke khiladi 2. In 2020 she participated in Bigg Boss.
Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar (born January 27, 1963 in Vijayapura, Karnataka) is a two-time National Award-winning Indian classical singer who is active mostly in Marathi, Konkani and Hindi film Industry; known for high-pitch singing and style, earned in Agra as well as Gwalior and Jaipur.
Arati has been credited by audio cassettes and CD recordings. She was the main playback singer for the Sham Benegal’s film, Sardari Begum. She is known for her albums Tejomay Nadbrahm, Raag-Rang, and, playback for the movies Antarnaad, De dhakka, Savlee, and the hit Sardari Begum, Ek Hazarachi Note. Her daughter Swanandi Tikekar who is in her mid-twenties dabbles in acting as well.
Asees Kaur (born 26 September 1988) is an Indian singer who has participated in various singing reality shows like Indian Idol and Awaz Punjab Di.In 2020, “Jaan Ban Gaye” from movie Khuda Haafiz has sung by Vishal Mishra & Asees Kaur .
Asees aspired to become a playback singer at a very young age. She started singing Gurbani at the age of 5. She made her Bollywood debut with “Dildara Reprise” from Tamanchey. Since then, she has worked with various music composers on several Bollywood songs including “Ve Maahi” from Kesari, “Makhna” from Drive, “Bandeya Re Bandeya” & “Tere Bin” from Simmba, “Akh Lad Jave” and “Chogada” from Loveyatri and “Bolna” from Kapoor & Sons.
“Bombay” Jayashri Ramnath is an Indian musician. Born into a family of musicians, Jayashri represents the fourth generation of music practitioners in her family. Trained by Lalgudi Jayaraman and T R Balamani, she has become one of the most sought after Carnatic musicians today. She has sung in multiple languages including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi movies. Born into a family of musicians, Jayashri represents the fourth generation of music practitioners in her family. Trained by Lalgudi Jayaraman and T R Balamani, She was awarded India’s fourth highest civilian award the Padma Shri in 2021. She has become one of the most sought after Carnatic musicians today.
B. R. Chaya
Bengaluru Ramamurthy Chaya, popularly known as B. R. Chaya, is an Indian, Kannada playback singer, stage performer and a popular Sugama Sangeetha singer from Karnataka state. She has performed pop, folk, devotional and bhavageethe (light music). She is affectionately known as the “Nightingale of Karnataka”, a Rajyotsava Prashasti recipient from the State Government of Karnataka and recipient of Karnataka State Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer twice.She has, to her credit, more than 16000 songs in the non filmy genre. She works primarily for Kannada film industry. Chaya owns an audio company called “Kinnari Audio” that focus on encouraging the new budding musical talents to launch their own musical albums. She also owns a popular music band “B. R. Chaya & Party” that conducts various musical programs across Karnataka state.
Sundarabai was born in Born in 1890. Sundarabai was a famous Marathi singer, musician and actress. Although she is mainly known as a planting singer, she has sung ghazals, qawwalis, thumri, bhajans, hori, kajri etc. The variety of songs they performed was equally powerful. Her original name was Sundarabai Jadhav, but she was especially known as ‘Bai Sundarabai’. She was also known as ‘Swaradevata’ Sundarabai. His native village was Pune.
Bhavatharani Raja is an Indian Tamil singer and music director. She is the daughter of film composer Ilaiyaraaja and her brothers are the noted film composers Karthik Raja and Yuvan Shankar Raja. She has mostly sung songs under the direction of her father and brothers. She was awarded the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer in 2000 for her rendition of the song “Mayil Pola Ponnu Onnu” from the film Bharathi, composed by her father Ilaiyaraaja.
Bela Shende is an Indian playback singer. She performed several songs in Bollywood and regional films. “Mann Mohana” from the film Jodhaa Akbar, “Su Che” from the film What’s Your Raashee?, “Wajle Ki Baara” and “Apsara Aali” from Natarang are some of her famous songs. In 2014 she was awarded the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the song “Khurkhura” from the Marathi film Tuhya Dharma Koncha.Shende started her career with the music album “Kaisa Yeh Jadoo” which was well received by the masses and was critically acclaimed. Her career in Bollywood started with the film Tera Mera Saath Rahen where she voiced for a brief part. She again got a big break in the 2005 submission for Academy Award, Paheli, where she voiced Rani Mukerji. In 2008 she crooned a bhajan in the Ashutosh Gowariker directorial Jodhaa Akbar for an A. R. Rahman composition and got an IIFA Award for Best Female Playback nomination for the song.
She then crooned hits in Marathi, her mother tongue, and received several awards and nominations for her excellence. Her renditions of lavnis “Apsara Aali” and “Vajle Ki Baara” from the Marathi film Natarang were well received. She became the sole voice of Kangana Ranaut in the 2013 musical Rajjo. Bela is credited as a talented vocalist and has established a career in the Marathi film industry. Besides Hindi, she has also sung in Marathi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.
Bangalore Nagarathnamma (3 November 1878 – 19 May 1952) was an Indian Carnatic singer, cultural activist, scholar, and courtesan. A descendant of courtesans, she was also a patron of the arts and a historian. Nagarathnamma built a temple over the samadhi of the Carnatic singer Tyagaraja at Thiruvaiyaru and helped establish the Tyagaraja Aradhana festival in his memory. Within a male dominated festival, she was the feminist aggressive enough to ensure that women artists were given equality to participate in it. She “was among the last practitioners of the devadasi tradition in India,” and the first president of the Association of the Devadasis of Madras Presidency. She also edited and published books on poetry and anthologies.
Suraiya Jamal Sheikh (15 June 1929 – 31 January 2004), popularly known by the mononym Suraiya, was a popular actress and playback singer in India’s Hindi language films. She was active from 1936 to 1963.In a career spanning from 1936 to 1963, Suraiya acted in 67 films and sang 338 songs. She was one of the greatest actresses of the Hindi Cinema and a leading lady in Hindi language films in the 1940s and 1950s. She was also a renowned playback singer, who mostly sang for herself, starting from a song in Nai Duniya (1942) when she was only 12 years old.She was known for her North Indian Muslim feudal style acting or adakari in many of her films
Suraiya made her first appearance as a child artist with the film Madame Fashion (1936), directed by Jaddan Bai. She made her acting debut with the film Taj Mahal in which she played the role of Mumtaz Mahal. In her heyday, she was known as Malika-e-Husn (queen of beauty), Malika-e-Tarannum (queen of melody) and Malika-e-Adakari (queen of acting). Suraiya was the highest-paid actress in the 1940s and 1950s and won several awards for her performances in Indian films.
Swarnalatha (29 April 1973 – 12 September 2010) was an Indian playback singer. In a career spanning almost 22 years (from 1987 till her death), she recorded over 10,000 songs in many languages, including Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Oriya, Punjabi, and Badaga.She won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for her rendition of the song “Porale Ponnuthayi” from the film Karuththamma. The song was composed by A. R. Rahman, under whose musical direction she recorded many memorable songs. She was also the first female playback singer to get a National Award In AR Rahman Music. Her distinctive voice, which could effortlessly reach high octaves, quickly made her a name to reckon with in the playback music industry. She is considered as one of the Top Leading Singers in South Indian Cinema. Unlike others she has an inimitable voice which made her stand Unique and her distinctive vocal range made her as Music directors choice for Experimental songs. There are certain songs which are specifically tailor made for Swarnalatha.Most of her Songs were hits in Malayalam.
Falguni Pathak (born 12 March 1964) is an Indian singer, performing artist, and composer based in Mumbai. Her music is based on traditional musical forms from the Indian state of Gujarat. Since her professional debut in 1987, she has developed into an artist with a large fan base across India. Once asked how she decided to take up singing as a career, she replied that it happened by default. She is widely regarded as Indian Madonna.Her debut album was released in 1998, and she has also recorded numerous songs for Bollywood movies. The theme of most of her songs is love. She has performed in many shows in India and other countries, backed by a band called Tha Thaiyaa. She has made appearances in television shows like Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, Kaun Banega Crorepati, Star Dandiya Dhoom, Comedy Nights With Kapil, and Primetime Show Baa Bahoo Aur Baby.
Chinmayi Sripada is an Indian playback singer, working mainly for the South Indian film industry. She is also a voice actor, television presenter and radio jockey. She is the founder and CEO of a translation services company Blue Elephant. She is often credited as Chinmayee and Indai Haza, but her birth name is Chinmayi. She rose to fame for her critically acclaimed song “Oru Deivam Thantha Poovae” from the National Award winning movie Kannathil Muthamittal.
Dhvani Bhanushali (born 22 March 1998) is an Indian singer. Born in Mumbai, she is popularly known for her single “Vaaste” which has crossed 1 Billion views on YouTube making her the only Indian to make it to the Global List of Fastest 1 Billion views after Jass Manak “Lehanga” song. She is also the youngest singer to hit 1 billion views on YouTube through her two singles, “Vaaste” and “Leja Re”, at the age of 21. She started her music career with the songs “Tere Mere Reprise” from Chef, “Humsafar Acoustic” from Badrinath Ki Dulhania, “Veere” from Veere Di Wedding and “Ishtehaar” from the film Welcome To New York. She came in the song “Ishare Tere” with Guru Randhawa. People also call her DB.
It was in 1911 when Maurice Delage, a pianist and composer in Paris, came across a gramophone record of an artist from India. Delage was the heir of a shoe-polish manufacturing company in France. Born with severe vision impairment, Delage studied music for 10 years under renowned French composer Joseph Maurice Ravel. Delage wrote to Ravel about the Indian musician’s recording, saying they “sent chills up and down my spine.” His keen ear detected “the microtonal effects she produced while singing.” He described the artist as a “master of open and closed mouth singing.”
Kanchipuram Dhanakoti Ammal
Dhankoti Ammal was one of the earliest recording stars in South India. She was also active as ‘Dhankoti Sisters’ along with her sister Kamakshi.
Geeta Dutt (born Geeta Ghosh Roy Chowdhuri; 23 November 1930 – 20 July 1972) was a prominent Indian playback singer and a famous Hindi and Bengali classical artist, born in Faridpur before the Partition of India. She found particular prominence as a playback singer in Hindi cinema. She also sang many modern Bengali songs, both in the film and non-film genre.
Suman Kalyanpur (born Suman Hemmady; 28 January 1937) is an Indian playback singer. One of the best-known and most respected playback singers in India.
Her voice was often mistaken to be that of Lata Mangeshkar. Suman Kalyanpur’s career started in 1954 and was very popular singer in the 1960s and 1970s. She recorded songs for movies in several languages besides Hindi, Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Rajasthani, Bengali, Odia and Punjabi. She is considered among the popular singers of her prime time and golden era of Hindi film music, along with Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhosle, Hemant Kumar, Talat Mahmood, Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Mahendra Kapoor and Shamshad Begum. She has sung a total of 857 Hindi songs.
Gauhar Jaan (born Angelina Yeoward; 26 June 1873 – 17 January 1930) was an Indian singer and dancer from Kolkata. She was one of the first performers to record music on 78 rpm records in India, which was later released by the Gramophone Company of India. Having recorded more than 600 songs in more than ten languages between 1902 and 1920, Jaan is credited with popularising Hindustani classical music such as thumri, dadra, kajri, tarana during the period.
Gangubai Hangal (5 March 1913 – 21 July 2009) was an Indian singer of the khyal genre of Hindustani classical music from Karnataka, who was known for her deep and powerful voice. Hangal belonged to the Kirana gharana. Hangal’s mother’s family was considered to be of low social status and for women of her generation singing was not considered appropriate employment; Hangal struggled against this prejudice and made a career. She performed all over India and for All India Radio stations until 1945.
Girija Devi (8 May 1929 – 24 October 2017) was an Indian classical singer of the Seniya and Banaras gharanas. She performed classical and light classical music and helped elevate the profile of thumri. She died on 24 October 2017. Girija Devi made her public debut in 1949 on All India Radio Allahabad, after marrying a businessman circa 1946, but faced opposition from her mother and grandmother because it was traditionally believed that no upper-class woman should perform publicly. Girija Devi agreed not to perform privately for others, but gave her first public concert in Bihar in 1951.
Taran Kaur Dhillon (born 29 July 1979), known by her stage name Hard Kaur, is an Indian rapper and hip hop singer; as well as playback singer and actress in Bollywood. She recorded the song “Ek Glassy” and was top for the UK then in 2007 rapped for Sriram Raghavan’s movie Johnny Gaddaar’s song “Paisa Phek (Move Your Body).” Since then she has sung in movies like Ugly Aur Pagli (“Talli”), Singh Is Kinng, Kismat Konnection, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, and Prince.
K. S. Chithra
Krishnan Nair Shantakumari Chithra, often credited as K. S. Chithra or simply Chithra, is an Indian playback singer and Carnatic musician from Kerala. Chithra also sings Indian classical, devotional, and popular music. She has recorded more than 25,000 songs in various Indian languages, including Telugu, (5000) Malayalam, (2500) Tamil, (2000) Kannada, (1500) Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tulu, Rajasthani, Urdu, Sanskrit, and Badaga, as well as foreign languages such as Malay, Latin, Arabic, Sinhalese, English and French. She is considered as the one among the “First ladies” of India who was honoured by the President of India.Chithra is a recipient of six National Film Awards (most by any female singer in India), eight Filmfare Awards South and 36 different state film awards. She has won all the four south Indian state film awards. She was honored with India’s civilian honor Padma Shri in 2005. She is the first Indian woman who was honored by House of Commons, British Parliament, United Kingdom in 1997.
Hemlata (born 16 August 1954) is an Indian playback singer in Bollywood best known for her songs in the late 1970s. She is classically trained. She established herself in film, concerts, television and music.She was nominated for Filmfare Best Female Playback Award five times in the period of 1977–81 and won once for Chitchor in 1977 for her classical rendition of “Tu Jo Mere Sur Mein” which was duet with K.J. Yesudas, composed by Ravindra Jain.
Hirābai Barodekar (1905 – 1989) was an Indian Hindustāni classical music singer, of Kirana gharana. She was disciple of Ustād Abdul Wahid Khān. She was an expert in Khyāl, Thumri, Marāthi Nātya Sangeet, and Bhajan. She is credited with having popularised Hindustāni Classical Music among the masses. She was truly pioneer of concerts by women artists in India. She the real pioneer and was the first female artist who introduced ticketed concerts in India. She was always amazingly popular on stages and her shows were jam-packed. A very fragile, honey voice, emotive factor, peaceful and exorbitant vocal clarity are her strengths. She was admired by the real class and those were mass. Her amazing rendition of ‘Taar Sa’ was very popular and became her hallmark. She made Kirana gharana more popular and rich.
Harshdeep Kaur (born 16 December 1986) is an Indian singer known for her Bollywood Hindi, Punjabi, and Sufi songs. She is popularly known as “Sufi Ki Sultana” because of her soulful Sufi renditions. After winning titles in two reality shows, Kaur established herself as a lead singer in Bollywood soundtracks. Kaur was sixteen years old when she released her first Bollywood song, “Sajna Mai Haari.”
Sistla Janaki (born 23 April 1938), popularly known as S. Janaki, is an Indian playback singer and occasional music-composer from Andhra Pradesh. She is referred to respectfully as “Janakiamma” and is one of the best-known playback singers in India. She is referred to as ‘Gaana Kogile’ (Singing Cuckoo) in Karnataka. She has recorded nearly 48,000 songs in films, albums, TV and Radio including solos, duets and chorus songs in more than 25 languages including her native language Telugu and in Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Odia, Bengali, Tulu, Urdu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Konkani, Assamese, Sindhi and also in languages such as English, Japanese, Arabic, German, and Sinhala, however the highest number of songs in her career were in Kannada followed by Tamil. Starting in 1957 with the Tamil film Vidhiyin Vilayattu, her career has spanned over six decades.Janaki, who is fondly called “The Nightingale of South India”, has won nine National Film Awards and 33 different State Film Awards.
K. B. Sundarambal
Kodumudi Balambal Sundarambal (1908–1980) was an Indian theatre and film actress and singer from Erode district, Tamil Nadu. She performed in Tamil cinema and was referred to as the “Queen of the Indian stage.” A political activist during the Indian independence movement, K.B. Sundarambal was the first film personality to enter a state legislature in India.
Ila Arun is an Indian actress, TV personality and Rajasthani folk and folk-pop singer. She has appeared in many prominent Bollywood movies such as Lamhe, Jodhaa Akbar, Shaadi Ke Side Effects and Begum Jaan. She has produced several successful singles such as “Vote for Ghagra”. She also sang the promotional hit song Halla Bol for the Rajasthan Royals team in the Indian Premier League She hails from Rajasthan and sings Rajasthani songs in her albums and movies.
Hema Sardesai, also known as Hemaa Sardesai, is an Indian playback singer and lyricist. Hema hails from the coastal state of Goa, in India, and was born in Mumbai. She shot to fame in 1997 with songs from movies like Sapnay, Biwi No. 1 and Jaanam Samjha Karo. Sardesai has sung several songs for Bollywood films, and has released several Indipop albums. Sardesai is particularly known for singing “Aawara Bhawren Jo Hole Hole Gaaye” in the Hindi dubbed version of 1997 film Sapnay, which featured Kajol in the lead role. Some of her other famous songs include “Ishq Sona Hai” (Biwi No. 1), “Chali Chali Phir Chali” (Baghban) and “Badal Pe Paon Hai” (Chak De! India). She is the only Indian singer to win the Grand Prix at the International Pop Song Festival in Germany, has sung at the International UNICEF Concert in Europe and became the only female singer other than Lata Mangeshkar to perform at the celebrations for the 50th year of India’s Independence day.
Janki Bai, Allahabad
Curiously titled ‘Chappan Churi’ because of the 56 scars that were allegedly made on her face by a lover who felt rebuffed when she did not respond, Janki Bai of Allahabad was one of the most leading Hindustani vocalists and most popular singers to record on the gramophone. She was also a talented poet and composed a book of Urdu poems called ‘Diwan-e-Janki’, Along with her famed contemporary Gauhar Jaan, Janki Bai had the privilege of performing for Emperor George V at the Delhi Durbar in 1911. Janki Bai sings the Chaiti ‘Nahin Bhulai tumhari sooratiya’ set in Hindustani language. Don’t miss her announcing loudly at the end of the recording: her characteristic signature ‘Mera naam Janki bai Allahabad!’
M. S. Subbulakshmi
Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi (16 September 1916 – 11 December 2004) was an Indian Carnatic singer from Madurai, Tamil Nadu. She was the first musician ever to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour. She is the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award, often considered Asia’s Nobel Prize, in 1974 with the citation reading “Exacting purists acknowledge Srimati M. S. Subbulakshmi as the leading exponent of classical and semi-classical songs in the carnatic tradition of South India. She was the First Indian who performed in United Nations General Assembly in 1966.”
Iman Chakraborty (born 13 September 1989) is an Indian singer. Chakraborty won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer in the year 2017 for her Bengali song “Tumi Jaake Bhalobasho” from Praktan film which is India’s most prestigious award for the singers who lend their vocals for films soundtrack. Accordingly She is one of the few singers who have won a national award for the debut film song in India.
Kaushiki Chakraborty (born 24 October 1980) is an Indian classical vocalist. Groomed at Sangeet Research Academy, she is one of the exponents of Patiala gharana. Her repertoire covers Khyals and semi-classical Thumris. She is the recipient 2005 BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music in the Asia-Pacific category. She is the daughter of Hindustani classical vocalist, Ajoy Chakraborty and she has held performances with her husband, Parthasarathi Desikan.
Kavita Krishnamurthy Subramaniam, is an Indian playback singer, trained in classical music. She has recorded more than 25,000 songs in 16 languages, Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Odia, Marathi, English, Urdu, Tamil, Malayalam, Gujarati, Nepali, Assamese, Konkani and other languages. She is the recipient of four Filmfare Best Female Playback Singer Awards (winning consecutively during 1995–1997), and the Padmashri which she received in 2005. In 1999, she married L. Subramaniam and resides in Bengaluru.
Kavita Seth (born 1970) is an Indian singer, who is most known as a playback singer in Hindi cinema, as well as a performer of Ghazals and Sufi music, and leads a Sufi musical group, Karwaan Group.She won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer in 2010 for her classical Sufi rendition “Gunja Sa Koi Iktara” for the film Wake Up Sid (2009). She also won the Star Screen Award for Best Female Playback for the same song, which was one of the biggest chartbusters in 2009.
Monali Thakur (born 3 November 1985) is an Indian singer and actress. She is the recipient of a National Film Award, Filmfare Award and many more awards. Thakur won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the song “Moh Moh Ke Dhaage” from the film Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015) and the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the song “Sawaar Loon” from the Film “Lootera” (2013). She was a judge on Zee TV’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs 2014. She was also an “expert” on Colors TV’s Rising Star for two consecutive seasons.
Jaspinder Narula (born 14 November 1970) is an Indian singer of playback, classical and Sufi music. She is known for her work in Hindi and Punjabi cinema.
She shot to fame after the duet “Pyar to hona hi tha” with Remo Fernandes from the 1998 film Pyar To Hona Hi Tha for which she won the 1999 Filmfare Best Female Playback Award. The other notable films she has sung in include Mission Kashmir, Mohabbatein, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani and Bunty Aur Babli. She is also a singer of Sufi music, as well as Gurbani and other Sikh religious music.In 2008, she won the title of India’s Best Live Performer in the NDTV Imagine singing reality series, Dhoom Macha De (2008).
Manjari (born 17 April 1986) is an Indian playback singer and Hindustani vocalist. Her first stage performance was with Shiva, the Kolkata – based rock band, when she was in class eight.
Mahalakshmi Iyer is an Indian playback singer, best known for her Hindi and Tamil songs. She has sung in many other Indian languages as well, including Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, Odia, Gujarati, Assamese and Kannada. Her first song as a singer was from the Assamese album Zubeenor Gaan in 1996. Mahalakshmi made her playback debut with the film Dus in 1997, but the film never completed and released due to the sudden passing of the film’s director. The album however was released in 1999 as a tribute. She sang the track Ae Ajnabee with Udit Narayan for A. R. Rahman in Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se.. which was her first release as a playback singer and considered to be her debut. Mahalakshmi continued singing for Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and A.R. Rahman in many films which followed.
Kesarbai Kerkar (13 July 1892 – 16 September 1977) was an Indian classical vocalist of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana. A protege of Ustad Alladiya Khan (1855–1946), the founder of the gharana, from age sixteen, she went on to become one of the most noted khayal singers of the second half of the 20th century.She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1953, followed by Padma Bhushan is the third highest civilian award in India, in 1969.
Sonu Kakkar is indian playback singer and songwriter. She is the elder sister of the Bollywood singers, Neha Kakkar and Tony Kakkar. Sonu Kakkar’s upcoming music video ‘Sun Baliye’ sung by Gajendra Verma, Sonu Kakkar. The music video features Gajendra Verma And Apoorva Arora.
Mehboob Jaan Of Solapur
Very little is known about this talented musician who was perhaps born around 1900 and appears to be musically active during 1925-40. Her very first 78 rpm disc was recorded by HMV in Feb 1932 – Shri Girija jane Shriram- in Raag khambavati, and Dattaguru in Raag Sohoni. She sang in Hindi, Urdu, Marathi and Kannada, and seems to have had a wide range – raag sangeet, bhajans, ghazals and even film songs. In 1936 she sang two songs in the Marathi film ‘Saavkari Paas’ and is said to have played a role in the film too. The last one hears of her is around 1965 when she lived a lonely life in Pune and died there around that time.Mehboob Jaan sings the devaranama ‘Krishna nee Begane baa’ set in Kannada language.
Manada Sundari Dasi
She was one of the most recorded artiste of her generation (1910-1920 being her peak recording period). Most of her gramophone records were on Pathe, HMV and Beka labels. She specialized in Tappa and Tap-khayals sung in Bengali and her voice production was immaculate even in the period of inferior acoustic recording. She hailed from Kalighat region in South Kolkata where professional singing women were entertaining the travelers who came from all parts of India to the Kali temple. She had extensive training in vocal classical music which is apparent from her taans, although very little is known about her tutelage. She received the patronage of people like Deshbandhu C.R.Das (who named one of the roads of Kolkata after her) and the Maharaja of Natore who it is said to have arranged a formal musical training for her from his court singer Biswanath Rao. Manada Sundari Dasi sings a Bengali khayal ‘Kotobaar Ashiya’ set in Raga Kedar.
Kishori Ravindra Amonkar (10 April 1932 – 3 April 2017) was a leading Indian classical vocalist, belonging to the Jaipur gharana, or a community of musicians sharing a distinctive musical style.She was a performer of the classical genre khyal and the light classical genres thumri and bhajan. Amonkar trained under her mother, classical singer Mogubai Kurdikar also from the Jaipur gharana, but she experimented with a variety of vocal styles in her career.
Neha Bhasin (born 18 November 1982) is an Indian singer and songwriter. Known for her playback work in Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood and independent songs in the genre of indian pop and punjabi folk music, she is the recipient of two Filmare and Stardust Awards and many other prestigious awards for her contribution in the music industry. Neha Bhasin started her career as a member of the first all girl band In India called ‘Viva’. The band had two albums together and made a record in the limca book of records to be the first debut band to have over 50,000 fans at their first concert.
Pulapaka Susheela (born 13 November 1935), popularly known as P. Susheela, is an Indian playback singer associated with the South Indian cinema primarily from Andhra Pradesh for over six decades. She has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as well as by the Asia Book of Records for performing a record number of songs in different Indian languages. She is also the recipient of five National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer and numerous state awards. Susheela is widely acclaimed as a singer who defined feminism in South Indian cinema and is well known for her mellifluous vocal performances for over 50,000 film songs across South Indian languages.
The song “Paal Polave” from Tamil film Uyarndha Manidhan brought her the first ever award at the 16th National Film Awards, by winning her the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer in 1969. Smt P.Susheela was the first recipient of this prestigious honour, which also made Uyarndha Manidhan, the first film to win a National Award under that category. She is fondly called “Gana Kokila” and “Gana Saraswathi”.
P. Bhanumathi Ramakrishna (7 September 1924 – 24 December 2005) was an Indian film actress, director, music director, singer, producer, novelist and lyricist. Widely known as the first female super star of Telugu cinema and South Indian film Industry, she was also known for her works in Tamil cinema. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2003 for her contribution in Indian cinema. She was honored among “women in cinema” at the 30th International Film Festival of India.
Badi Malka Jaan (victoria Hemmings)
Malka Jaan of Agra was one of Gauhar Jaan’s contemporaries. Born in Azamgarh, she studied under several ustads of Agra. Later she became a court musician at the durbar of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah in Calcutta. Malka Jaan Agrewali became popular for developing her new full-throated thumri singing style. She had a wide repertoire that ranged from dhrupad, khayal and thumri to the so-called light and folk pieces of hori, chaiti, kajri, tappa and ghazal. Her ‘Beete jat barkha ritu sajan nahin aaye’ (‘The rainy season is coming to an end but my beloved hasn’t returned’) in Raga Desh and ‘Papihara piu piu kare’ (The papihara bird melodiously calls, piu piu) in Raga Sawan were immensely popular with the audiences both in live concerts and on gramophone discs. Later in life, Malka Jaan Agrewali had a long and torrid love affair with the famed Ustad of the Agra Gharana, Ustad Faiyyaz Khan, who was much younger than her. Another musician, the extremely talented Maujuddin Khan, who was madly in love with her, almost ruined his life to alcohol when she spurned him.
Nilanjana Sarkar aka Neelanjona Sabyasachi Thakur is a playback singer who received the 57th National Film Awards (2009) for her song in the Bengali film Houseful. She has several ad jingles to her credit. The song bish, for which she won the national award, was composed by the band Kaya. She is also famed as RJ Neel of 92.7 Big Fm. Her show Raater Otithi ruled the airwaves over a decade. She married Sabyasachi Chakraborty Thakur on December 2, 2018.
Poornima (sushma Shrestha)
Poornima Shrestha (born 6 September 1960), also known as Sushma Shrestha, is an Indian playback singer. Starting as a child singer, she later reinvented into a leading playback singer in Bollywood during the 90s. She started her career as a child singer in Ramesh Sippy’s Andaz (1971) under legendary music director duo Shankar Jaikishan for the hit song “Hai Na Bolo Bolo” alongside Mohammed Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur. Throughout her childhood, she then worked with music composers of the golden era including Naushad, Madan Mohan, C. Ramchandra, Salil Choudhury, Anil Biswas, S.D. Burman, Kalyanji-Anandji and Laxmikant–Pyarelal. Poornima formed a successful collaboration with R.D. Burman with such popular numbers, “Tera Mujhse Hai Pehle” from Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973) and “Kya Hua Tera Vada” from Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977); both earned her nominations for the Filmfare Best Female Playback Award becoming the youngest nominee in the category at the age of 11.She made a comeback as an adult singer when music director duo Anand-Milind collaborated with her for the superhit song “Tu Tu Tu Tu Tu Tara” in Bol Radha Bol (1992). Their collaboration throughout the 1990s gave her a string of hits. Since then she has collaborated with many leading music directors including Bappi Lahiri, Rajesh Roshan, Ravindra Jain, Anu Malik, Jatin-Lalit, Raamlaxman, Nadeem-Shravan, Viju Shah, Anand Raj Anand, Nikhil-Vinay and Aadesh Shrivastava.
Rekha Bhardwaj (born 24 January 1964) is an Indian singer and live performer. She has received two Filmfare and one National Awards. In addition to Hindi, she has also sung in Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi and Malayalam languages. Bhardwaj’s first album titled ‘Ishqa Ishqa’ was released in 2002, ten years after its conception. Its success got her recognition and helped bag her career-defining songs like “Namak Ishq Ka” in the 2006 film Omkara (composed by her Husband Vishal Bharadwaj) followed by “Sasural Genda Phool” (a Chhattisgarhi folk song recreated by AR RAHMAN) in 2009 film Delhi-6.
Sadhana Sargam (born 7 March 1969) is an Indian singer known for playback career in Indian cinema predominantly in Hindi and Tamil films. She is a recipient of the National Film Award and Filmfare Awards South. She has also won five Maharashtra State Film awards, four Gujarat State Film Awards and has also been awarded the ‘Lata Mangeshkar Award’ from the Government of Madhya Pradesh.
Prabha Atre (born 13 September 1932) is an Indian classical vocalist from the Kirana gharana. Dr. Prabha Atre holds the world record to have released 11 books (from a single stage). She released 11 books on music in Hindi and English at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on 18 April 2016.
Noor Jehan (born Allah Wasai; 21 September 1926 – 23 December 2000; sometimes spelled Noorjehan), also known by her honorific title Malika-e-Tarannum (the queen of melody), was a Pakistani playback singer and actress who worked first in British India and then in Pakistan. Her career spanned more than six decades (1930s–1990s). She was renowned as one of the greatest and most influential singers of all time especially throughout South Asia and was given the honorific title of Malika-e-Tarannum in Pakistan. She had a command of Hindustani classical music as well as other music genres.
Along with Ahmed Rushdi, she holds the record for having given voice to the largest number of film songs in the history of Pakistani cinema. She is estimated to have made more than 40 films and sung around 20,000 numbers during a career which lasted more than half a century. She is thought to be one of the most prolific singers of all time. She is also considered to be the first female Pakistani film director.
Maithili Thakur is an Indian singer trained in Indian Classical music. She sings in Maithili and Bhojpuri languages, along with variety of other covers, and traditional folk music from other states. In 2011, Thakur appeared in Little Champs, a singing competition television series telecast in Zee TV. Four years later, she contested in Indian Idol Junior, telecast in Sony TV. She won the “I Genius Young Singing Star” competition in 2016, following which she launched her album, Ya Rabba (Universal Music).
Shakthisree Gopalan (born 25 October 1988) is an Indian vocalist, songwriter and performer, famous for her collaborations with the top south-Indian music directors/composers like A. R. Rahman. Aside from the film music, she is a regular in the independent music scene, performing with various bands over the years dabbling in Pop, R’n’B, trip-hop and jazz.She has also been performing and releasing music independently in multiple languages.
She is an architect by profession, graduating from School of Architecture and Planning.
Vani Jairam (born as Kalaivani on 30 November 1945), also credited as Vani Jayaram, is an Indian singer. She is best known as a playback singer in South Indian cinema. Vani’s career started in 1971 and has spanned over four decades. She has done playback for over thousand Indian movies recording over 20,000 songs. In addition, she has recorded thousands of devotionals and private albums and also participated in numerous solo concerts in India and abroad.Renowned for her vocal range and easy adaptability to any difficult composition, Vani has often been the choice for several composers across India through the 1970s until the late 1990s.She has sung in several Indian languages, such as Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Odia, Gujarati and Bengali languages.Vani won the National Film Awards for Best Female Playback Singer three times and also has won State Government awards from the states of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. In 2012, she was honored with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South for her achievements in South Indian film music. In July 2017 she was honored with the Best Female Singer at the NAFA 2017 event at New York City.
Shamshad Begum (Śamśād Bēgam; 14 April 1919 – 23 April 2013) was an Indian singer who was one of the first playback singers in the Hindi film industry. She was born in 1919 in a ‘Punjabi Mann Jatt Muslim’ family. She had a distinctive voice and was a versatile artist, singing over 6,000 songs in Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil and Punjabi languages and of them 1287 songs were Hindi film songs. She worked with maestros including Naushad Ali, S. D. Burman, C. Ramchandra and O. P. Nayyar. Her songs from the 1940s to the early 1970s remain popular and continue to be remixed.
Shalmali Kholgade is an Indian playback singer, who predominantly sings for Hindi language films. In addition to Hindi, she has also sung in other Indian languages such as Marathi, Bengali, Telugu and Tamil. Through her singing career, she has received one Filmfare Award from two nominations, and has been praised for her singing style.
Shilpa Rao (born Apeksha Rao; 11 April 1984) is an Indian singer, born and raised in Jamshedpur. She completed her Master’s in Applied Statistics from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, before working as a jingle singer for three years. During her college days, Mithoon offered her to record the song “Javeda Zindagi” from Anwar (2007), making her Bollywood career debut.
Rao rose to widespread prominence with the release of Woh Ajnabi from “The Train” 2007 and “Khuda Jaane” from Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008). She was nominated for the Best Female Playback Singer award for the song, in 54th Filmfare Awards. The following year, she collaborated with Ilaiyaraaja for Paa (2009), where she performed the song “Udi udi Ittefaq Se” for which she received another nomination in the same category during 55th Filmfare Awards ceremony. In 2012, Rao teamed up with A.R. Rahman and came up with the song “Ishq Shava” from Jab Tak Hai Jaan which was a commercial success, followed by Pritam-composed “Malang” from Dhoom 3 (2013) and Vishal-Shekar’s “Meherbaan” in Bang Bang! (2014).
Shweta Mohan (born 19 November 1985) is an Indian playback singer. She has received four Filmfare Awards South for Best Female Playback Singer, one Kerala State Film Award and one Tamil Nadu State Film Award. She has recorded songs for film music and albums in all the four south Indian languages namely Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada in addition to the Hindi films and has established herself as a leading playback singer of South Indian cinema.
Richa Sharma (born 29 August 1974) is an Indian film playback singer as well a devotional singer. In 2006, she sang Bollywood’s longest track, the bidaai song, in film Baabul (2006). Under the tutelage of Pandit Aaskaran Sharma, Richa went on to get proper training in Indian classical and light music. Richa added ghazals; film songs, Punjabi and Rajasthani folk songs to her repertoire, thus making her voice reach out to more and more people in a variety of sounds.
Shobha Gurtu (1925–2004) was an Indian singer in the light Hindustani classical style. Though she had equal command over pure classical style, it was with light classical music that she received her fame, and in time came to be known as the Thumri Queen, and for the ‘Abhinaya’ ang in her full-throated voice. She also performed music in Marathi and Hindi cinema. As a playback singer, she first worked in Kamaal Amrohi’s film, Pakeezah (1972), followed by Phagun (1973), where she sang, ‘Bedardi ban gaye koi jaao manaao more saiyyaan’. She earned a Filmfare nomination as Best Female Playback Singer for the song “Saiyyan Rooth Gaye” from the hit film Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (1978). In Marathi cinema, she sang for films like Saamna and Lal Mati. In 1979, The Gramophone Company of India (EMI) released her first album At Her Best… Shobha Gurtu, considered a high ranking classic recording displaying her dazzling vocal work in the eastern Uttar Pradesh (Purbi Gayaki) musical tradition rooted in the 19th Century.
Shubha Mudgal (born 1 January 1959) is an Indian singer of Hindustani classical music. Her repertoire includes the genres of khyal, thumri, dadra, and Indian pop. She has received the Padma Shri in 2000. Shubha Mudgal started performing as a Hindustani classical singer in the 1980s, and gained a certain reputation as a talented singer. In the 1990s, she started experimenting with other forms of music, including pop and fusion varieties. She says, “I believe in music. Khayal and Thumri are my favourites, but that does not mean that I should not experiment with other forms. Why should I curtail my musical urges? ….. I want to allow the artist in me to come through. If you are a musician, how can you say, ‘this one is from devotional poetry, so I am not going to sing it.” In addition to her recordings and concerts, she briefly ran a website called raagsangeet.com aimed at lovers of Indian classical.
Sujatha Mohan (credited as Sujatha) is an Indian playback singer who is popular for singing in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu movies. She has also sung for Kannada and Hindi movies. She has sung many songs in Malayalam, making her one of the most prolific Malayalam singers.
Sandhya Mukherjee (born 4 October 1931), also known as Sandhya Mukhopadhyay, is an Indian playback singer and musician, specialising in Bengali music.She is the prima dona of Bengali playback industry. No other female vocalist has attend her caliber in Bengali music industry. She received Banga Bibhushan, the highest civilian honour od the Indian state of West Bengal in 2011. and National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for her songs in the films Jay Jayanti and Nishi Padma in the year 1970.
Veena Sahasrabuddhe (14 September 1948 – 29 June 2016 (aged 67) was a leading Indian vocalist and composer of Hindustani classical music from Kanpur. Her singing style had its roots in Gwalior gharana, but it also borrowed from Jaipur and Kirana gharanas. Sahasrabuddhe was known as a singer of khyal and bhajan.
Veena Sahasrabuddhe was born in a musical family. Her father Shankar Shripad Bodas was a disciple of vocalist Vishnu Digambar Paluskar. She began her early musical education under her father, and then under her brother Kashinath Shankar Bodas. She also learned Kathak dancing in her childhood. Sahasrabuddhe’s musical mentors included Balwantrai Bhatt, Vasant Thakar, and Gajananrao Joshi. Later she also trained briefly under Gaansaraswati Kishori Amonkar.
Shirley Setia is a singer and actress from Auckland. Setia featured in the Forbes Magazine, where she was referred to as “Bollywood’s Next Big Singing Sensation. Setia made her film debut with Maska which released on Netflix on 27 March 2020 and will be making her Bollywood film debut with Nikamma.
Tulsi Kumar Dua (born 15 March 1986) is an Indian playback singer, RJ and host who works in the Bollywood industry. She was born to businessman, film producer and the founder of T-Series Gulshan Kumar and Sudesh Kumari. She has two siblings, Khushali Kumar and Bhushan Kumar. She is married to Hitesh Ralhan since 2015 with whom she has a son named Shivaay Ralhan.
Tarali Sarma is a singer from Assam, who won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer in the year 2003 for the Assamese film Akashitorar Kothare. Her father is Prabhat Sarma who is a folk exponent, flutist, music director and a Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee. Tarali is a versatile singer and music director in the Assamese film industry. She has composed music for films like Akashitorar Kothare, Laaz, Jatra the passage, Basundhara and Abhijatri, among others. She has also released several albums such as Abhixari Priya, Sonjoni, Sankar Madhav, Sneh, Pohar, Tarali, Henguliya and Bargit. Tarali’s album list also includes Abhimaan, Prajapati, Nayanmoni (with Krishnamani Nath), Mukoli etc.
Tarali Sarma performed in Valley Forge in Pennsylvania during Assam 2009 organized by Assam Society of America. She also performed in Colorado Springs, Colorado during Assam 2010 organized by Assam Society of America.
Vasundhara Das (born 27 October 1977) is an Indian singer, actress, composer, entrepreneur, speaker, songwriter and environmental activist.
Vasundhara’s films include Hey Ram (Tamil/Hindi), Monsoon Wedding (English), Citizen (Tamil), Ravana Prabhu (Malayalam), Lankesh Patrike (Kannada) and several others. Vasundhara has worked with composers such as A. R. Rahman, Vijaya Bhaskar, Yuvan Shankar Raja and G. V. Prakash Kumar to name a few.
Vasundhara’s current focus is on music composition at her Bangalore based studio called The Active. She has also been involved in several independent projects such as Channel V Jammin’, BBC’s HIV awareness anthem for India ‘Har Kadam’, Mission Ustaad, Arya, Global Rhythms, Nylon Soundz and most recently, The Shah Hussain Project, a collaborative album with Sufi singer Mir Mukhtiyar Ali. She won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer – Tamil for the film Mudhalvan
Usha Mangeshkar (15 December 1935) is an Indian singer who has recorded many Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Kannada, Nepali, Bhojpuri, Gujarati and Assamese songs. Usha has a strong interest in painting. She is known for her famous song “Mungda” and songs for the Marathi movie Pinjara. She had also produced musical drama Phoolwanti for Doordarshan.
Siddheswari Devi (1908– 18 March 1977) was a legendary Hindustani singer from Varanasi, India, known as Maa (mother). Born in 1908, she lost her parents early and was brought up by her aunt, the noted singer Rajeshwari Devi. She sang khyal, thumri (her forte) and short classical forms as dadra, chaiti, kajri etc. On several occasions she would sing perform through the night, for example on the overnight boating expeditions of Maharaja of Darbhanga.
Sonal Mansingh (born 30 April 1944) is an Indian classical dancer and Guru Bharatanatyam and Odissi dancing style. She has been nominated by the President of India to become a Member of parliament, Rajya Sabha. Sonal Mansingh dancing career which started in 1962, after her arangetram in Mumbai, and in 1977, she founded, Centre for Indian Classical Dances (CICD) in New Delhi.
Zohrabai Agrewali (1868–1913), also known mononymously as Zohrabai, was one of the most noted and influential singers of Hindustani Classical Music from the early 1900s. Along with Gauhar Jan, she marks the dying phase of the courtesan singing tradition in Indian classical music. She is known for her masculine style of singing.
Rajkumari Dubey (Singer)
Rajkumari Dubey (1924 – 2000), better known by her first name, Rajkumari, was an Indian playback singer who worked in Hindi cinema of 1930s and 1940s. Best known for her songs, “Sun Bairi Baalam Sach Bol Re” in Bawre Nain (1950), “Ghabaraa Ke Jo Hum Sar Ko Takraayan” in Mahal (1949) and “Najariya Ki Maari” in Pakeezah (1972).