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Usha Uthup

Usha Uthup
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Personal Information

Gender
Female
Birthday
8-Nov-1947
Marital Status
Married

About Usha Uthup

Usha Uthup (born November 8, 1947) is a popular Indian pop, jazz and playback singer. She is well known for popular hits in the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

She started her Bollywood playback career, when she sang an English verse in hit song, "Dum maro dum"" in Hare Rama Hare Krishna, and went on work with music directors like R.D. Burman and Bappi Lahiri, through the 1970s and 80s, singing hits like "Ek do cha cha cha" (Shalimar), "Koi yahan aha nache nache" (Disco Dancer), "Ramba ho" (Armaan), "Hari Om Hari" (Pyaara Dushman) and "Doston se pyar kiya" (Shaan) and more recently "Darrling" in 7 Khoon Maaf. She has sung in 16 Indian languages including Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Assamese, Oriya, Gujarati, Marathi, Konkani, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Tulu and Telugu. She can also sing in several foreign languages including English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Sinhalese, Swahili, Russian, Nepalese, Arabic, Creole, Zulu, and Spanish.

Usha was born in Mumbai,[1] in a Tamil Brahmin family that hailed from Tamil Nadu, in Madras (now Chennai) in 1947. Her father Sami Iyer, later became the police commissioner of Bombay. She has three sisters Uma Pocha, Indira Srinivasan and Maya Sami, all of whom are singers and two brothers, one of whom is named Shyam. She was the fifth of six children. As a child, she lived in the police quarters at Lovelane in Byculla in Bombay and attended a local school.

When she was in school she was thrown out of music class because she didn't fit in with a voice like hers. But her music teacher recognized that she had some music in her and would give her clappers or triangles to play. Even though she was not formally trained in music, she grew up in an atmosphere of music. Her parents used to listen to a wide range from Western classical to Hindustani and Carnatic including Kishori Amonkar and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan on radio and she used to join them. She used to enjoy listening to Radio Ceylon.

Her next door neighbour was S.M.A. Pathan, who was then the deputy commissioner of police. His daughter, Jamila, inspired Usha to learn Hindi, 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. She is married to Mr Jani Uthup from Kottayam, Kerala.

Uthup started singing in a small nightclub in Chennai called as Nine Gems in the basement of the erstwhile Safire theater complex on Mount Road,[6] when she was 20, 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.[7] 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).[8] 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 including Shashi Kapoor visited the nightclub and they offered her a chance to sing movie playback. As a result, she started her Bollywood career with Hare Rama Hare Krishna. Originally, she was supposed to sing Dum Maro Dum along with Asha Bhosle. However, as a result of internal politicking on the part of other singers, she lost that chance but ended up singing an English verse.

In 1968, she recorded covers of two pop songs in English, "Jambalaya" and The Kingston Trio's "Greenback Dollar", on an EP, Love Story, and "Scotch and Soda", another Kingston Trio song, which sold very well in the Indian market. She also spent some time in London during this early period. She was a frequent visitor to Vernon Corea's BBC office at the Langham in London and was interviewed on London Sounds Eastern on BBC Radio London. Usha visited Nairobi as part of an Indian festival. She was so popular that she was invited to stay on. Singing and quite often nationalistic songs in Swahili made her extremely popular and the then President Jomo Kenyatta made her an Honorary Citizen of Kenya. She sang the famous song "Malaika" (angel) with Fadhili Williams who was the original singer. She produced a record "live in Nairobi" with a local band Fellini Five.

Uthup sang several songs in the 1970s and 1980s for music directors R D Burman and Bappi Lahiri. She also reprised some of R.D. Burman songs that were sung by others such as Mehbooba Mehbooba and Dum Maro Dum and popularised them to a distinct end.

Uthup sang in Chris Perry's Konkani album Chris Perry Presents Usha - 'Meu Amor'.

She is currently (2011-2012) a judge on Kuyil Paatu, aired in Kalaignar TV, a popular tamil TV channel, along with Anuradha Sriram.
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