K. S. Chithra

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K. S. Chithra
Chithra in 2022
Born
Krishnan Nair Shantakumari Chithra

(1963-07-27) 27 July 1963 (age 60)[1]
Alma materUniversity of Kerala
Occupations
  • Singer
  • music producer
  • Judge
Years active1979–present
Spouse
Vijayashankar
(m. 1987)
HonoursSee list
Musical career
Genres
Instrument(s)Vocals
LabelsAudiotracs
Websitewww.kschithra.com

Krishnan Nair Shantakumari Chithra (born 27 July 1963) is an Indian playback singer and Carnatic musician. In a career spanning over four decades, she has recorded over 30,000 songs[2][3] in various Indian languages,[4][5] as well as foreign languages such as Malay, Latin, Arabic, Sinhalese, English and French.[6] She is also known for her extensive history of collaboration with music composers like A. R. Rahman, Ilaiyaraja, Hamsalekha,[7] M. M. Keeravani and with the playback singers K. J. Yesudas and S. P. Balasubrahmanyam over the years.[2] She is cited as the Golden Voice of India by world's Prestigious Royal Albert Hall, London in 2001[8][9] and Melody Queen of Indian Cinema by Radio Mirchi, The Times Group in 2016.[3][10][11] She is honoured with the title First Ladies by the President of India in 2018 for being the first Indian woman to be honoured by British Parliament at House of Commons, United Kingdom in 2003.[12][13] People of India fondly called her as Little Nightingale of Indian Cinema.

Chithra is a recipient of six National Film Awards, nine Filmfare Awards South and 36 different state film awards from six states of India such as 16 Kerala State Film Awards, 11 Andhra Pradesh State Film Awards, 4 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, 3 Karnataka State Film Awards, 1 Orissa State Film Awards, 1 West Bengal State Film Awards.[14] She was awarded India's third-highest civilian honours Padma Bhushan in 2021 and Padma Shri in 2005 for her valuable contributions towards the Indian musical fraternity.[15][16] In 2009, She became the first Indian artist to be honoured by Government of China while performing live at the Qinghai International river festival.[8][3] Barring Lata Mangeshkar, she also remains the second female playback singer from India to have performed at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London in 2001 and her Performance was applauded with much appreciation by a roomful of an international audience.[17][8] Her song "Kannalane/Kehna Hi Kya" from the film Bombay (1995) was included in United Kingdom The Guardian's "1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear Before You Die" list.[18]

Early life[edit]

Chithra was born 27 July 1963 in the city of Trivandrum (now Thiruvananthapuram) of the Kerala state. Her father, Krishnan Nair was a school teacher and a music enthusiast who taught basics of music to all his three children.[19] He passed away after a long battle with cancer on 18 July 1986. Her mother Shanthakumari was also a music teacher. She has an elder sister, K. S. Beena who is a former singer and younger brother K. S. Mahesh who is a musician.[20] Chithra completed her schooling at the Cotton Hill Government Girls High School in Thiruvananthapuram. She acknowledges that it was the teachers of the school who spotted her talent in music.[21]

Chithra received her training in Carnatic music from K. Omanakutty for seven years. She graduated in B.A. in music with first class and third rank from the University of Kerala.[22] She was selected for the National Talent Search Scholarship from the Government of India during the period 1978 - 1984.[23]

Playback singing[edit]

Malayalam cinema[edit]

K. S. Chithra was introduced to Malayalam playback by M. G. Radhakrishnan in 1979 who recorded her voice for films and private albums.[22] Attahasam, Snehapoorvam Meera and Njan Ekananu were the first few films in which she recorded her voice. She also performed live concerts with K. J. Yesudas in India and abroad.[22] The song "Manjal Prasadavum" from the film Nakhakshathangal (1986) composed by Bombay Ravi got her the second National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer. For the same composer, she sang the song "Indupushpam Choodi Nilkum" for the film Vaishali (1989) and won her third National Film Award. Her first Kerala State Film Award for Best Singer was for the song "Poomaname" from the film Nirakkoottu (1985) composed by Shyam. Since then, she has earned wide recognition by singing popular songs under the compositions of Raveendran, Shyam, S. P. Venkitesh, Mohan Sithara, Salil Chowdhury, Kannur Rajan, Ilaiyaraaja, Johnson, Ouseppachan, M. K. Arjunan, A. T. Ummer, Berny Ignatius, M. B. Sreenivasan, Mohan Sithara, Vidyasagar, Ramesh Narayan, Sharreth, M. Jayachandran and Deepak Dev.[22] She is regarded as "Nightingale of Kerala (Vanambadi)" and recorded many successful songs in Malayalam. She recorded a number of songs for the composer S. P. Venkitesh and her maximum duet songs in Malayalam are with K. J. Yesudas and M. G. Sreekumar. As of 2017, she has won the Kerala State Awards for the record 16 times. Her latest song "Theerame" from the movie Malik (2021) became another awesome hit in Malayalam Music Industry.[24][25][26][27]

Telugu cinema[edit]

Chithra performing with S. P. Balasubrahmanyam

Chithra's first Telugu song was "Paadalenu Pallavaina" from the dubbed version of Tamil film Sindhu Bhairavi (1985) composed by Ilaiyaraaja, later sang a humming in a song sung by K. J. Yesudas composed by K. V. Mahadevan for the picture Pralayam (1985). Her first song in a Telugu film is "Gelupu Maade" from Vijrumbhana (1986), composed by K. Chakravarthy. Later went on to sing songs to many Telugu composers like Sathyam, Raj-Koti, Ilaiyaraja, K. V. Mahadevan & K. Chakravarthy for the years 1986–88, but she gained initial recognition/break-through for compositions by Ilaiyaraja like "Jallanta Kavvinta" from Geethanjali (1989) & "Ninnukori Varnam" from Gharshana( 1988) and then went onto sing several songs to many composers in Telugu. It was from then onwards that she became a notable singer in Telugu and went on to record every other song in each album being the solo card female singer for almost all the films in the 90s. It was the moment where she established herself as a well recognized singer and strengthening her position in Telugu films by almost taking the place of S. Janaki from 1990.[28] Chithra received her first Nandi Award, presented by Government of Andhra Pradesh for "Kalika Chilakala Koliki" from Seetharamayya Gari Manavaralu (1991). She won a total of 11 Nandi Awards as Best Female Playback Singer for various Telugu songs.[29] As the years passed by Chithra was recognized as a legendary singer in Telugu whose era or legacy was considered to be the golden era standing next to P. Susheela and S. Janaki. As of today Chithra is considered as one of the finest singers of the Telugu film industry whose charisma is remarkable. She sang maximum songs in Telugu to M. M. Keeravani and also worked with almost every notable composer from then to till date.

Hindi cinema[edit]

Chithra was introduced to Hindi film music in 1985; she recorded her first Hindi song composed by S. P. Venkitesh, which was not commercially released. For the 1991 Hindi film Love, composers Anand–Milind, called upon her to sing duets song along with S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and since then, Chithra has recorded for around 200 Bollywood songs.[30]

Apart from film songs, Chithra recorded for many private albums of which Piya Basanti and Sunset Point became hugely popular and went on to win several laurels including the MTV Music Video Awards. The popularity of the former album made her known among the Northern part of Indians identify her as "Piya Basanti" Chitra.[31]

Other Indian languages[edit]

Television[edit]

Year Name of Television Show Role Network Language
2006-2007 Star Singer (season 1) Judge Asianet Malayalam
2009-2010 Super Singer Junior (season 2) Judge Star Vijay Tamil
2009-2010 Star Singer (season 4) Judge Asianet Malayalam
2010-2011 Star Singer (season 5) Judge Asianet Malayalam
2011-2012 Star Singer (season 6) Judge Asianet Malayalam
2011-2012 Super Singer Junior (season 3) Judge Star Vijay Tamil
2012 Ningalkkum Aakaam Kodeeshwaran (season 1) Contestant Asianet Malayalam
2014 Super Singer Junior (season 4) Judge Star Vijay Tamil
2014-2015 Star Maa Super Singer 8 [32] Judge Star Maa Telugu
2016-2017 Super Singer Junior (season 5) Judge Star Vijay Tamil
2018-2019 Super Singer Junior (season 6) Judge Star Vijay Tamil
2018 Padutha theeyaga Guest Judge ETV Telugu
2020 Super Singer Junior (season 7) Judge Star Vijay Tamil
2020 Yaar Antha Star (season 7) Judge MediaCrop Vasantham, Singapore Tamil
2020-2022 Star Singer (season 8) Judge Asianet Malayalam
2021-2022 Super Singer Junior (season 8) Judge Star Vijay Tamil
2022 Star Maa Super Singer junior (Season 2) [33] Judge Star Maa Telugu
2022-2023 Star Singer Junior (season 3) Guest Jury Asianet Malayalam
2023 Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li'l Champs (Season 19) [34] Guest Judge Zee Kannada Kannada
2023 Super Singer Junior (season 9) Judge Star Vijay Tamil
2023–present Star Singer (season 9) Judge Asianet Malayalam
2023 – present Yaar Antha Star (season 8) Judge MediaCrop Vasantham, Singapore Tamil
2024 Super Singer 10 Guest Star Vijay Tamil

Performances[edit]

Work and association with music directors[edit]

Chithra has sung over 25,000 songs.[2]

Concerts[edit]

Chithra performing at a concert

Apart from playback singing, she also appeared among the panel of judges in the singing reality television shows at Kerala (Idea Star Singer and Josco Indian Voice),[35] at Tamil Nadu (Airtel Super Singer Junior),[36] where she also won the award for Best Female Judge and at Andhra Pradesh (MAA TV) Super Singer. Apart from this judgement panel she has appeared in music-shows like Swarabhishekam, Super Masti, Jhumandi Nadam. She is a regular singer in Ilayaraja's, A.R. Rahman's and S.P. Balasubrahmanyam's concerts.[citation needed] She has performed all over the world in SPB's concerts along with S. P. Sailaja, S. P. Charan. She has been a regular singer participating in all the concerts of SPB50-The World Tour, she has performed almost all around the world with S. P. B. Charan, S. P. Sailaja, Sunitha Upadrashta Karthik & Shweta Mohan.[citation needed]

She had performed at the Royal Albert Hall[37] and House of Commons[citation needed] in London. On 6 June 2009, she performed in Qinghai International Musical Journey on Water and Life concert with a rendition of "Tunga Tarange Gange" alongside other singers from nations located around various major rivers such as the Ganges, Volga, Rhine, Danube, Mississippi, and Amazon.[38][39][40][41]

Studio albums[edit]

Chithra recorded her first studio album with Voodoo Rapper for the album called Ragga Raaga in 1993.[citation needed] She recorded the albums in Hindi, Piya Basanti (2000) and Sunset Point. She associated with Ustad Sultan Khan for Piya Basanti which was certified Gold.[42] Sunset Point had eight songs written and narrated by Gulzar and sung by Chithra and Bhupinder.[43] In 2006, she released an album in dedication to M. S. Subbulakshmi named My Tribute. It is a collection of Kritis and bhajans dedicated to Subbulakshmi.[44] In 2009 she released Nightingale: A Salute to Lataji, a musical tribute to Lata Mangeshkar on her 80th birthday.[45] She also recorded many Malayalam albums for K. J. Yesudas, M. Jayachandran and Sharreth compositions. She also planned a ghazal album with Ghulam Ali and Asha Bhosle.[44]

International projects[edit]

  • Recorded with the Arab singer Jawad Ali for his album Amar Ul Hob[37]
  • Recorded a song for the jazz pianist Herbie Hancock[46]

Public profile[edit]

Philanthropy[edit]

Chithra, along with a Kerala-based satellite channel, Asianet Cable Vision (ACV), jointly launched a fundraising organisation, Sneha Nandana, to raise funds for the welfare of retired musicians who have lost their careers due to changes in the music industry.[citation needed] She launched this organisation on the occasion of her completion of three decades in the music playback industry. She said that the fund would provide help to the musicians with financial impediments and those suffering from health problems.[citation needed] A cultural event called Chithra Pournami was held on 15 February 2011 at Thiruvananthapuram to celebrate the 30th year of her career and also to launch this organisation.[47]

Awards, honours, and recognition[edit]

Chithra with Vani Jayaram at 61st film fare awards

K S Chithra is cited as the Golden Voice of India by world's prestigious Royal Albert Hall, London in 2001[8][9][17] and Melody Queen of Indian Cinema by Radio Mirchi, The Times Group in 2016.[3][10][11] She is honoured with the title First Ladies by the President of India in 2018 for being the first Indian woman to be honoured by British Parliament at House of Commons, United Kingdom in 2003.[12][13] People of India fondly called her as Little Nightingale of Indian Cinema.

Chithra is a recipient of six National Film Awards, nine Filmfare Awards South and 36 different state film awards from six states of India such as 16 Kerala State Film Awards, 11 Andhra Pradesh State Film Awards, 4 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, 3 Karnataka State Film Awards, 1 Orissa State Film Awards, 1 West Bengal State Film Awards.[14] She was awarded India's third-highest civilian honours Padma Bhushan in 2021 and Padma Shri in 2005 for her valuable contributions towards the Indian musical fraternity.[15][16] In 2009, She became the first Indian artist to be honoured by Government of China while performing live at the Qinghai International river festival.[8][3] Her song "Kannalane/Kehna Hi Kya" from the film Bombay (1995) was included in The Guardian's "1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear Before You Die" list.[18] She received the MTV Video Music Award – International Viewer's Choice at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York in 2001.[48] She received honorary doctorates from Sathyabama University in 2011[49][50] and from The International Tamil University, United States in 2018.[51][52]

Personal life[edit]

Chithra is married to Vijayashankar, an engineer and businessman.[53] They had a daughter who was born with Down syndrome, and drowned in a pool in Dubai in 2011 when Chithra was about to perform at an A. R. Rahman concert.[54][55]

References[edit]

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  35. ^ [1] Archived 23 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
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  48. ^ "Hindustan at MTV Awards". The Times of India. 9 September 2001. Archived from the original on 22 April 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  49. ^ "Sathyabhama doctorates for scientist, stars". The New Indian Express. 13 May 2011. Archived from the original on 24 April 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
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  54. ^ "KS Chithra's daughter reportedly drowned and died in Emirates Hills pool" Archived 6 September 2023 at the Wayback Machine. Emirates247.com. 14 April 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
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External links[edit]

Media related to K. S. Chithra at Wikimedia Commons