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Swarnalatha (29 April 1973 – 12 September 2010) was an Indian playback singer. In a career spanning almost twenty-two years (1987-till her death), she recorded over 7,000 songs in many languages including Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam, Urdu, Bengali, Oriya, Punjabi and Badaga.
|Also known as||The Humming queen of India|
29 April 1973|
Chittur, Palakkad, Kerala, India
12 September 2010 (aged 37)|
|Genres||Playback singing, Carnatic music|
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. Her distinctive voice, which could effortlessly reach high octaves, quickly made her a name to reckon with in the playback music industry.
She was born in the village Kizhakkaepparra near Athikkode near Chittur, Palakkad, Kerala, to K. C. Cherukutty and a Tamil mother, Kalyani. Swarnalatha had several siblings and was the last child in a big family of music lovers. Her father was a harmonium player and singer. Her mother also had an interest in music. Swarnalatha was trained on the harmonium and keyboard. Swarnalatha's family later moved to Bhadravathi (Paper Town) in Shimoga District, where she had her education. Surrounded by a family of musicians and music lovers, Swarnalatha took to music when she was in her teens. Her sister Saroja was her first music teacher.
When Swarnalatha was still a child, her family moved to Chennai to seek opportunities in the film industry for her singing talent. The first opportunity came from M. S. Viswanathan in 1987, when she performed a duet with K. J. Yesudas, "Chinnanchirukiliye Kannamma" in the film Neethikku Thandanai. Subsequently, she was approached by many other music directors to perform songs under their baton. She also had the opportunity to work with director P. Venu. She was recruited by legendary musicians like Ilaiyaraaja and A. R. Rahman. She also recorded a few Hindi songs, the most notable one being "Hai Rama Yeh Kya Hua" from the film Rangeela with the singer Hariharan.
In Telugu, she recorded more songs under the music direction of Mani Sharma, Ramana Gogula, Raj-Koti Vandemataram Srinivas. They include the immensely popular songs like Raamma Chilakamma, Osey Ramulamma, and Nizam Babulu.
A.R.Rahman, noting her versatility as a singer and her extraordinary voice, used Swarnalatha for many of his songs. She was one of the most versatile singers of her times, as she was able to sing melodies like "Maalayil Yaaro Manathodu Pesa" from Sathriyan or "Porale Ponnuthayi" from Karuthamma as well as Rahman's experimental songs like "Mukkabla" from Kadhalan or "Mottu Vittadha" from Pavithra. Swarnalatha was the first female playback singer to fetch the National Award under A. R. Rahman's music direction. She received the award for the song "Porale Ponnuthayi". Once in an interview, she said that she was moved to tears when she finished the recording of this song and received praise from A. R. Rahman. She recorded many songs with music directors Deva, Vidyasagar, Harris Jayaraj, Anu Malik, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Raj-Koti, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Mani Sharma, Hamsalekha and many others. She recorded all the songs originally rendered by Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum for the Tamil movie Anarkali (the dubbed version of the Hindi movie Mughal-e-Azam) and was praised by the Bollywood music director Naushad Ali. Once during an interview, the interviewer Setu asked her what the best moment of her life had been, expecting her to talk about receiving the National Award. But nobody had expected her to say that the best moment of her life had been when she received the kudos from the legendary Hindi film music director Noushad ali ji for her rendition of the songs in Anarkali. Being a non-native Hindi speaker, her pronunciation in Hindi songs was noted as exceptional unlike other prominent singers from South India who had recorded songs in the language.
Swarnalatha died at a private hospital in Chennai at the age of 37 due to cardiac arrest. She was admitted to the hospital after she collapsed on stage while performing, to the shock of the audience. She had been suffering from an interstitial lung disease (lung infection). The singer had been undergoing treatment for the infection for over a year and had not recorded for films after she fell ill. However, she had been performing at some small-scale concerts and her death occurred at such an event.
Awards and recognitionsEdit
She received the National Award from the Government of India when she was just 21 years old. She also a four-time recipient of the Cinema Express Awards.
National Award (Silver Lotus Award)-(Rajat Kamal)
- 1994 – National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for "Porale Ponnuthayi" from Karuththamma
Tamil Nadu State Awards
- 1991 – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Playback for "Povomma Oorkolam" from Chinna Thambi
- 1994 – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Playback for "Porale Ponnuthayi" from Karuththamma
- 2000 – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Playback for "Evano oruvan" from Alaipayuthey
- 1991 – Best Female Playback Singer for "Povomma Oorkolam" from Chinna Thambi
- 1995 – Best Female Playback Singer for "Muquala Muqapala" from Kadhalan
- 1996 – Best Female Playback Singer for "Akkadannu nanga" from Indian
- 1999 – Best Female Playback Singer for "Ulunthu vidaikayile" from Mudhalvan
- 1994– Kalaimamani Award by the Government of Tamil Nadu for her contributions towards Tamil music.
- 1995– Nandi Award by the Government of Andhra Pradesh for her contributions towards Telugu music.
In Ilaiyaraja's musicEdit
The numbers based on the same tune 'Povomaa Oorkolam' and 'Nee Yengae Enn Anbae' from the film Chinnathambi were huge hits. Songs like these made Swarnalatha the singing voice of Khushbu who was ruling the roost as a Super Star for whom fans had built a temple. Government of Tamil Nadu honored her with the award of Best Singer for the song 'Povomaa Oorkolam'.
The song 'Raakkamma Kayyathattu' from the film Thalapathi figured in BBC's Hits List of world songs.
|"Oorellam Un Paatu Thaan"||Oorellam Un Paatu Thaan|
|"Nandri Sollave"||Udan Pirappu|
|"Sollividu Velli Nilave"||Amaidhi Padai|
|"Kanne indru kalyana"||Aanazhagan|
|"Aattama Therottama"||Captain Prabhakaran|
|"Chithra Kili"||Chinna Devan|
|"Adi Vannathi Poo"||Chinna Jameen|
|"Povomma Oorkolam"||Chinna Thambi|
|"Nee Enge"||Chinna Thambi|
|"Naan Erikarai"||Chinna Thayee|
|"Kattu Kuyil Pattu"||Chinna Mapillai|
|"Vennilavu Kothipathu"||Chinna Mapillai|
|"Semparathi Poovukku"||Dharma (1998 film)|
|"Maasi Masam"||Dharma Dorai|
|"Mana Magalea"||Devar Magan|
|"Vayasu Vantha"||En Mana Vaanil|
|"Kuyil Paatu"||En Rasavin Manasile|
|"Uthama Puthiri"||Guru Sishyan|
|"Aradi Suvaruthan"||Idhu Namma Bhoomi|
|"Oru Pokiri Rathiri"||Idhu Namma Bhoomi|
|"Kooyil Mani Kettene"||Kanna Unnai Thedukiren|
|"Enga Then Paandi"||Kattabomman|
|"Adi Asa Machan"||Kummi Paattu|
|"Oorukku Thekkuttu"||Kummi Paattu|
|"Ammiyila Araichi"||Kummi Paattu|
|"Uchi Veyilukku"||Kummi Paattu|
|"Nee Thane Nal Thorum"||Paattu Vaathiyar|
|"Kana Karunk Kuyilae"||Pandithurai|
|"Malliye Chinna Mullaye"||Pandithurai|
|"Vidalapulla"||Periya Marudhu (film)|
|"Vidai Kodu"||Piriyadha Varam Vendum|
|"Ooradangum Samathilea"||Puthupatti Ponnuthaye|
|"Kalaiyil Kettathu"||Senthamizh Paattu|
|"Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu"||Thalapathi|
|"Ennai Thottu"||Unna Nenachen Pattu Padichen|
|"Kanna Un Kannil"||Unna Nenachen Pattu Padichen|
|"Unnai Ethir Parthen"||Vanaja Girija|
|"Sirakadikuthu Kuruvi"||Vanaja Girija|
|"Naan Thanga Roja"||Time (1999 film)|
|"Malai Kovil Vasalil"||Veera|
In A.R.Rahman's musicEdit
|"Kummi Adi"||Sillunu Oru Kadhal||2006|
|"Sollaiyo Solai Kili"||Alli Arjuna||2001|
|"Orunal Oru Pozhuthu"||Anthimanthaarai||1995|
|"Kucchi Kucchi"||Bombay (Tamil and Telugu)||1995|
|"Kay Sera Sera" (as chorus)||Pukar||2000|
|"Sunta Hai Mera Khuda"||Pukar||2000|
|"Chalo Chale Mitwa"||Nayak||2001|
|"Poongkaatrilae"||Dil Se.. (Tamil – Uyire)||1998|
|"O Priyathamma"||Dil Se.. (Telugu – Prematho)||1998|
|"Shabba Shabba"||Daud (Original Soundtrack in Hindi)||1997|
|"Shabba Shabba"||Daud (Tamil – Ottam)||1997|
|"Oh Vandhaale"||Daud (Tamil – Ottam)||1997|
|"Shabba Shabba"||Daud (Telugu – 50-50)||1997|
|"Sy Saiyyante"||Daud (Telugu – 50-50)||1997|
|"Nee Etty Etty Thottuvachukka"||Manitha Manitha||1994|
|"Anna Un Tholil"||Oonjal||1999|
|"Yenthen Vaanil"||Kadhal Virus||2002|
|"Mukkala Mukkabla" (Hindi)||Kadhalan (Hindi – Humse Hai Muqabala)||1994|
|"Singore Singore"||Kannathil Muthamittal||2002|
|"Poralae Ponnuthayi (sad)"||Karuththamma||1993|
|"Madrasa Sutthi"||May Madham||1994|
|"Mel Isaiye"||Mr. Romeo||1996|
|"Hai Rama" (Hindi and Telugu)||Rangeela||1995|
|"Ai Rama" (Tamil)||Rangeela||1995|
|"Kuliruthu Kuliruthu"||Taj Mahal||1999|
|"Yae Muthu Paapa"||Vandicholai Chinraasu||1994|
Selected Malayalam film songsEdit
|"Manikkakkallal Menju Menanju"||Varnapakittu|
|"Nandalaala Hey Nandalaala"||Independence|
|"Balla Balla Ballare"||Punjabi House|
|Poomeniyil||Parasala Paatchan Payannur Paramu|
|"Kannoram Kanamuthe Vaa"||Ishtamanu Nooruvattam|
|"Manjil Pootha Sandhye"||Minnaminunginum Minnukettu|
|"Neeyonnu Paad"||Thacholi Varghese Chekavar|
|"Oru Thari Kasthoori"||Highway|
|"Maninimukile ni pozhiyaruthe"||Kuberan|
|"Madhu Chandrike Nee "||Saadaram|
Selected Telugu songsEdit
|"Hey Dhaga Dhaga"||Prematho Raa||Mani Sharma|
|"Adireti"||Bharateeyudu||A. R. Rahman|
|"Holi Holi"||Kushi||Mani Sharma|
|"Mukkabla"||Premikudu||A. R. Rahman|
|"Raama Chilakamma"||Choodalani Vundi||Mani Sharma|
|"Paataku Praanam"||Vasu||Harris Jayaraj|
|"O muthyalakomma (almost all songs)"||Osey Ramulamma||Vandemataram Srinivas|
|"Prarthana"||Devi||Devi Sri Prasad|
|"Nizam Babulu"||Premante Idera||Ramana Gogula|
|"Strawberry Kanne"||Merupu Kalalu||A.R Rahman|
|"Keeravani Ragamlo.."||Swayamvaram||Vandematarm Srinivas|
|"Rahasyamuga"||Dum Dum Dum||Kartik Raja|
|"Idele Taratarala Charitam"||Peddarikam||Raj-Koti|
|"Raa Raa Rajakumara"||Arjun||Mani Sharma|
|"Nachave Palapitta"||Kalisundam Raa||S. A. Rajkumar|
- "Playback singer Swarnalatha passes away". The Hindu. 12 September 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
- National award winning playback singer Swarnalatha passes away, Asian Tribune, Tue, 14 September 2010 03:25
- "Swarnalatha Biography". Archived from the original on 14 July 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
- "Home". Retrieved 1 July 2016.
- "My first break – Swarnalatha". The Hindu. 8 May 2009.
- "Chinna Thambhi Bags Cinema Express Award". The Indian Express. 25 February 1992. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- BBC World Service 70th Anniversary Global Music Poll: The World's Top Ten. 2002. Retrieved 5 February 2011.