Biography of Playback Singer Usha Uthup

This article provides details about the popular playback singer Usha Uthup. She is very popular for singing various popular songs in the Indian film industry for several languages.

Usha Uthup – Renowned Playback Singer

Usha Uthup is an infamy Indian pop, jazz and a notorious play back singer. Usha’s popular numbers were during the late 1960s, 70s and 80s. This female singer is famous for her metallic voice and has given out many fleeting, momentary and jazz numbers which always brings out glory to the film she has sung. She has been conferred with great number of award winning singer of the early times. Most of her songs were in Hindi as she was of Mumbai origin; though she has sung for few Tamil songs as well. Usha has an assortment of popular songs for more than 16 languages in India that includes Bengali, Malayalam, Punjabi, Hindi, Marathi, Assamese, Oriya, Gujarati, Konkani, Kannada, Tamil, Tulu, Telugu etc. She has also sung for many foreign languages like English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Sinhalese, Swahili, Russian, Nepalese, Arabi, Creole, Zulu and Spanish. Usha’s first debut turned out to be a accomplished triumph for she sang the song “Dum Maro Dum” for the film Hare Rama Hare Krishna.

Early Life and Background of Playback singer Usha Uthup

Usha’s birthplace is in the city of Mumbai, India. She was born into a family of Tamil Brahmin where the family got them transferred from the metropolitan to another city - Mumbai from Chennai (which was called Madras earlier) in the year 1947 (during the freedom struggle movement when India was set to free). Usha’s father’s name is Sami Iyer who was designated to be the Commissioner of Police of the Bombay metropolitan then. Her parents had 6 children and Usha Uthup was the 5th amongst of the 6 children in the family. Her sisters were Uma Pocha, Indira Srinivasan and Maya Sami; among who were all good singers. It was all about singing that was highly concentrated in the family. She had 2 brothers after the 3 elder sisters. This was her family set up in and out and she did her schooling in a local school in Bombay (Mumbai now). She dwelled at the Police head quarters at the Lovelane in Byculla at Bombay.

When Usha was in school, she was flunked out of the music class it was hard for her voice to fit in but the teacher had always a sneaking suspicion that she had a good knowledge and interest in music and decided to put her into clappers or triangles classes. Though, Usha was not formally trained in music, she was brought up in a back ground where she was always intended to listen to a wide range of western classical Hindustani and carnatic including Kishori Amonkhar and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan on radio and she used to join them and listened to Radio Ceylon most of the time. It was all the music knowledge that she had learned from the Radio most of the time.

One of her great inspiration in leading her career to take up music was her neighbor S.M.A.Pathan who was a very good person to inspire her and he was also deputy commissioner of police. His daughter Jamila had a thought of giving some suggestions and she insisted Usha to learn the national language Hindi and also she insisted Usha to wear Salwar Kameez and take up Indian classical music. This fusion approach helped her to pioneer her unique brand of Indian pop in the 1970s. Usha is married to Mr.Uthup who has his nativity from Kottayam, Kerala.

Career and Livelihood of Playback Singer Usha Uthup

Usha had her first singing when she was at the age of 9. Her siblings, who were also a part of the musical journey, took her to the musician Ameen Sayani. This composer was her fist chance giver which made her voice to be open on to the eorld via the Ceylon radio at the Ovaltine musical hour at the where she sang the song “Mockingbird Hill”. This made her initiate her career start after this followed many such experiences for her to join stage shows and many Radio programs.

Usha started her career when she was at the age of 20 by singing in for a small night club called the nine gems in the basement of the erstwhile saffire theatre complex on Mount Road at Chennai metropolitan; wearing a saree and leg calipers. It was always the attire that made Usha stand a whilst away from other singers at that time. Her execution in the night club was so well received that the proprietor of the club asked her to sojourn in the hotel for a week for her performances to be taken over every night. After her first night club gig, she began singing in Calcutta (Kokatta now) at night clubs such as “Talk of the Town” and “Trincas”. It was in Trincas, where Usha met her future husband. It was then Oberoi hotels in her list where her next commitment was. By coincidence, a film crew belonging to Navketan unit that roped in Shashi Kapoor popped in the night club and offered her a venture to sing in the play back singing industry. This was how she pioneered her career in the bollywood industry with Hare Rama Hare Krishna.

In the year 1968, she taped 2 pop songs in English namely “Jambalaya”, “the Kingston Trio’s, “Green Back Dollar” on a vinyl, Love story, and Scotch and Soda, another Kingston Trio song, which snapped up awfully well in the Indian market. She also exhausted some time in London, United Kingdom in the course of this premature period.

Honorary Recognitions of Usha Uthup Playback singer

Usha visited Nairobi as an element of Indian festival and suited so well liked that she was invited to hang about. Singing and quite often patriotic songs in Swahili made her acutely popular and the President of the country Jomo Kenyatta made her an honorary citizen of Kenya. She sang the legendary number “Malaika” along with the novel singer Fadhili Williams. She fabricated a “live in Nairobi” with a confined band Fellini Five. She has lent voices for many famous music directors like R.D.Burman and Bappi Lahiri. Some of her notable songs were “Vande Mataram” for Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham, “Din Hai Na ye Raat” for Bhoot in Hindi, “Vegam Vegam Pogum Pogum magic journey” for the film Anjali composed by A.R.Rahman in Tamil, “Keechurallu” for Illaiyaraaja etc.

She is one of the most popular personalities who give stage performances. She also gave performances in many places that covered various parts of the world and is known for her lively presence on stages. She was continuously given and honored with various awards for her beautiful singing. Usha is known for her massive bindi and flowers that adorns her hair as well her Kancheepuram saris that sets a separate brand name for her and sets her apart from the other singers.

Awards and Recognitions of Usha Uthup

• Recipient of the Padma Shri award – the fourth higest civilian award presented by the Government of India.
• The best female play back singer award conferred by the film fare awards for the song “One Two Cha Cha Cha” from the movie Shalimar in the year 1978.
• Recipient of Mahila Shiromoni Purashkar award for international peace.
• Channel [V] award for outstanding achievement.


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