Role playback singer
Siblings K. S. Beena, K. Mahesh
Name K. Chithra
|Years active 1979–present|
Parents Krishnan Nair
Spouse Vijay Shankar
|Birth name Krishnan Nair Shantakumari Chithra|
Also known as Chinna Kuyil Nightingale Of South India Keralathinte Vanambadi
Born 27 July 1963 (age 57) Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India (1963-07-27)
Genres Playback singing, Carnatic Music, Hindustani Music
Similar People K J Yesudas, S P Balasubrahmanyam, M G Sreekumar, S Janaki, Sujatha Mohan
Krishnan Nair Shantakumari Chithra, often credited as K. S. Chithra or simply Chithra, is an Indian playback singer from Kerala. Chithra also sings Indian classical, devotional, and popular music. She has sung in a number of Indian languages as well as Urdu, Latin, Arabic, Sinhalese and English. She has recorded more than 25,000 Songs for various films and albums. She is a recipient of six National Film Awards, seven Filmfare Awards South and 34 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 considered to be the first Indian woman to be honoured by House of Commons, British Parliament, United Kingdom. She is considered to be the only South Indian female singer who presented her maiden concert in the world's prestigious concert hall Royal Albert Hall in London. She is considered to be the only singer from India who was honoured in Qinghai International Music and Water Festival by the Government of China. Her song "Kannalane/Kehna Hi Kya" from the film Bombay (1995) was included in The Guardian's "1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear" list. Chithra is referred to as Chinna Kuyil (English: Little Nightingale) or Keralathinte Vanambadi (English: Nightingale of Kerala) or Nightingale of South India.
- Early life
- Playback singing
- Music company
- Recording studio
- Work and association with music directors
- Performances in concerts India abroad
- Studio albums
- Association with A R Rahman
- Personal life
- Stage performances
- Performances outside India
- International projects
- Awards honours and recognition
- Other achievements
Born in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, into a family of musicians, Chithra's father, the late Krishnan Nair, was also her first Guru (teacher). Her elder sister K. S. Beena and her younger brother Mano is also a playback singer. Chithra received her training in Carnatic music from Dr. K. Omanakutty, passed B.A. in music with first class and third rank from the University of Kerala, and completed a master's degree in music. She was selected for the National Talent Search Scholarship from the Central Government from 1978 to 1984.
Chithra was introduced to Malayalam playback by M. G. Radhakrishnan in 1979 who recorded her voice for films and private albums. 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. 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 "Aayiram Kannumayi" from the film Nokkethadhoorathu Kannum Nattu (1986) composed by Jerry Amaldev. Since then, she has earned wide recognition by singing popular songs under the compositions of Raveendran, Shyam, S. P. Venkitesh, Mohan Sithara, Kannur Rajan, Ilaiyaraaja, Johnson, Ouseppachan, M. K. Arjunan, A. T. Ummer, Berny Ignatius, M. B. Sreenivasan, Mohan Sithara, Vidyasagar, Ramesh Narayan, Sharreth and M. Jayachandran. She is regarded as "Nightingale of Kerala (Vanambadi)" and recorded too many successful songs in Malayalam. She recorded maximum 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.
Chithra made her debut in the Tamil film industry through the song "Poojaikketha Poovithu" from the film Neethana Antha Kuyil (1985), which was composed by Ilaiyaraaja. She was given the title Chinnakuyil after singing the song "Chinna Kuyil Paadum" from the 1985 released film Poove Poochudava. Director Fazil cast her for this song after Ilaiyaraaja got impressed with her song sung in original version in Malayalam for the film Nokkethadhoorathu Kannum Nattu in 1985 directed by himself.. For the folksy classical song "Paadariyaen Padippariyaen" from the film Sindhu Bhairavi (1986), she was awarded with the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer. Since then, she has recorded thousands of Tamil film songs composed by Ilaiyaraaja, A. R. Rahman, Deva, S. A. Rajkumar, Vidyasagar, Sirpy, Yuvan Shankar Raja, G. V. Prakash Kumar, Harris Jayaraj and Santhosh Narayanan. She has sung huge number of evergreen hit songs in Tamil which are remembered till date. She is the only female singer who has sung the maximum number of songs for the Academy Award winning composer A. R. Rahman for his Tamil film songs.. Her fifth National award for best singer was for the song "Oooh La La" from the film Minsara Kanavu (1997). Out of 150 Tamil films from A. R. Rahman, Chithra lent her voice for 103 films.
She was introduced to Telugu music through the musical Tamil-Telugu dubbed film Sindhu Bhairavi in 1985, then she recorded her first song in the Film "Pralayam" composed by K. V. Mahadevan, where she sang a huming portion in K. J. Yesudas's song. Then in 1986 she recorded two songs for the film 'Vijrumbhana'(Composed by music director Sathyam). Then she went on recording songs in Telugu from 1986-1988 to Ilayaraja, Chakravarthy, K. V. Mahadevan & Sathyam, but she had her breakthrough in 1988 through the songs in the films Gharshana (Agni Natchathiram) and Geetanjali, which were commercially successful in the Telugu musical field. She went on to become a regular singer for M. M. Keeravani, Raj-Koti and S. V. Krishna Reddy and recorded all the songs in one film. Mostly all her life-time hits in Telugu are composed by M. M. Keeravani. She was a sensation in Telugu musical industry and had the fame of recording all the songs in one film from 1990-1995 along with S.P.Balasubrahmanyam & Mano. From late 80's till 90's she has recorded so many hit female duets with P. Susheela, Vani Jayaram, S. P. Sailaja and Jikki in many films. Chitra is known for giving soul to lyrics in Telugu states. though she belongs to Kerala, she is highly encouraged in Telugu states for her expressive renditions. She has sung a song "Venuvai Vachanu" from the film Matrudevobhava under M. M. Keeravani's composition, which has turned into her life-time hit song where she sang with high expression and emotion. One more song "Kallaloki Kallu Petti" composed by Koti from the film Nuvve Kavali was a huge chartbuster. It is known that, while recording this song Chitra really ended up crying, she has sung the song with huge emotion giving apt soul to the song. She has sung many evergreen songs in Telugu like "Ninnu Kori" from Gharshana,"Maa Perati Jaamchettu" from Pelli Sandadi, "Asalem Gurtukuradu" from Antahpuram, "Kannaule" from Bombay,"Ennalaku Gurtochana" from Varsham, "Sitamma Vakitlo" from Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu, "Gopikamma" from Mukunda and many other songs. K.S.Chitra won two awards on SIIMA 2017 on this year .
Chithra started her journey in Kannada cinema through the film Preethi released in 1986. The duet song "Nee Hacchida Ee Kumkuma" along with S. P. Balasubrahmanyam was composed by G. K. Venkatesh. In the same year, composer M. Ranga Rao offered her two songs in the film Aruna Raaga. This was followed by "Sheela O My Sheela", a duet song with K. J. Yesudas and composed by Bappi Lahiri for the Dwarakish directorial fantasy-adventure film Africadalli Sheela. For the rest of the 1980s, she recorded songs for composers like Rajan-Nagendra, S. P. Venkatesh, Chakravarthy, Sankar Ganesh and Vijay Anand. Some of her popular songs in the 1980s were from the films such as Karunamayi (1987), Suprabhatha (1988), C.B.I. Shankar (1989), Hrudaya Geethe (1989) and Krishna Nee Kunidaga (1989).
From the early 90s, she was the most preferred female voice in Kannada industry and Chitra sang for most of songs released for the entire decade. The 1990s saw Chithra being extensively featuring in most of the soundtracks composed by the popular composer Hamsalekha. Starting with the song "Idu Maya Bazaru" from the film C.B.I. Shankar, her collaboration with the composer brought out many successful songs from the films such as Muthina Haara ("Madikeri Sipayi"), Navathare, Neenu Nakkare Haalu Sakkare, Shanti Kranti, Belli Kalungura, Chaitrada Premanjali, Gopi Krishna, Mannina Doni, Solillada Saradara, Annayya, Gadibidi Ganda, Mane Devru, Munjaneya Manju, Shrungara Kavya, Halunda Tavaru, Mahakshathriya, Himapatha, Putnanja, Karpoorada Gombe, Hrudaya Hrudaya and Shabdavedhi to name a few. Throughout the 1990s, she went on to become a notable singer in Kannada film industry with her perfection in diction and finesse. Her solos and duets with S. P. Balasubrahmanyam made her famous and she received great acclaim for portraying great deal of nativity in her singing. She continued to sing for notable music directors like V. Manohar, Sadhu Kokila, Deva, Rajesh Ramanath, Gurukiran, S. A. Rajkumar, K. Kalyan, Mano Murthy, V. Harikrishna, Arjun Janya and B. Ajaneesh Loknath.
The song "Hele Kogile" composed by Ilaiyaraaja for the film Nammura Mandara Hoove (1996) brought her the first Kannada state award. "Tunturu" and "Ee Sundara Beladingala" songs from Amrutha Varshini (1997), "Navileno Kunibeku" and "Hamsave Hamsave" from Gattimela, "Araluva Hoovugale" from My Autograph, "Onde Usiranthe" from Snehaloka, "Sangaathi" and "Oho Chenne Chenne" from Sparsha, amongst many are considered Chithra's some of the most evergreen Kannada songs.
She was introduced to Hindi film music in 1985, she recorded her first Hindi song, which was not commercially successful, but later in 1991 she sang a song in the film Love, composed by Anand-Milind, she sang all the tracks in the film and the track "Saathiya Tune Kya Kiya"(along with S.P.Balasubrahmanyam), was commercially successful. Then she went on recording some Hindi songs under A.R.Rahman's compositions from 1991-1995, but her breakthrough in Hindi film music was with the song "Kehna Hi Kya" from the film Bombay (1995), which was highly successful in the North Indian region and gave her an identity in Bollywood film industry ("Kehna Hi Kya" was included in The Guardian newspaper's "The 1000 songs that everyone must hear"). She mostly sang for Anu Malik, where he gave her a chance to sing eight songs out of eleven in Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon in 2003, which was a musical sensation.. She has sung all the remarkable evergreen songs like "Ye Haseen Wadiyan" from Roja, "Yaaron Sun Lo" from Rangeela, "Hum Tumse Na" from Ziddi, "Payale Chunmun" from (she won a National Award, Star Screen Award and the nomination for Filmfare Awards for her rendition) from Virasat, "Raat Ka Nasha" from Asoka, "Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya (sad version)", "Rang De Basanti" were some memorable huge hits.
The song "Mere Dil Ka Tumse Hi Kehna" from the film Armaan (2003) was a huge hit. Her songs "Naya Naya", "Kyun baar baar" from the film Filhaal became massive hits which were composed by Anu Malik. In the composition of Rajesh Roshan, she has sung "Koi Mil Gaya" title song of the film Koi... Mil Gaya for which she won Bollywood Movie Awards, MTV Immies Award and the nomination for Filmfare Awards. In the song "Tum Bin Jiya Jaye Kaise" from the film Tum Bin became a huge chartbuster, where she has rendered that song with high expression and emotion. Her songs "Hum Bhool gaye " from the film Aks, "Roop suhana Lagta hai" from the film The Gentleman, "Raat hamari " from the film Parineeta were a huge hit, leaving the statement "highly expressive". She has sung most expressive and motivational song "Jaage hain" from the film Guru alongside A. R. Rahman which was a trending song in 2007. Chitra is popularly called as "Piya Basanti" in Mumbai because of her works in the albumn Piya Basanti alongside Ustad Sultan Khan, where album became a huge chartbuster in 2000 and was certified "GOLD" and went on to win the International award MTV Video Music Award in pop category (she was the first person from south to win that prestigious award).
In 1995 Chithra established the Audiotracs Music Company in Chennai.AUDIOTRACS is the brand name of AT MUSICS a music label promoted by the well known singer CHITHRA known as the nightingale of the south in 1995. Audiotracs is one of the most respected music label of south India producing albums in the non film space such as devotional music, classical music, light songs, traditional music etc. Some of the most prominent music directors of Malayalam films like M.Jayachandran, Deepak Dev, Viswajith etc. made their debut thro this label.All of Chitra's non film albums are produced by AUDIOTRACS and released thro MANORAMA MUSIC the music division of the media group Malayala Manorama thro a licensing arrangement since 2001. Apart from music cds the audiotracs catalogue is available in the digital space like YouTube, iTunes, Google+, Nokia music store etc.
Krishna Digidesign is a digital recording studio promoted by noted singer K S Chithra in Chennai. The studio is a dream come true project for Chithra.The studio was inaugurated on 6 April 2000 jointly by two of Chithra's mentors Dr.K J Yesudas and mastero Ilayaraja in the august presence of her guru Dr.Omanakutty and Mr.M. G. Radhakrishnan who had introduced her to the field of film music.
The first song was recorded by Mr.Sonu Nigam the talented singer/performer of Bollywood to the music of Mr.Bharadwaj. We have two studios studio A and B for song recordings and mastering projects.Today Krishna Digidesign is considered as one of the most popular and professional destination for musicians of all genre in Chennai. luminaries of the music fraternity of the country like.Dr.M. Balamuralikrishna, K J Yesudas, S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, S. Janaki, Shankar Mahadevan, Hariharan and others had graced the studio with their presence and soulful melodies.
Leading music directors like Sharreth, M. M. Keeravani, Mani Sharma, M. Jayachandran, Deepak Dev, S. Thaman, Anu Malik, Kamalakar and revered personalities likeM. S. Viswanathan, Raveendran, Johnson (composer), Shyam (composer), Jerry Amaldev, L. Vaidyanathan, Hamsalekha, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Karaikudi Mani and a host of others have used the services provided by the studio over the years. Most of the recordings of Chithra's music label and the sister concern of the group 'AUDIOTRACS' are also recorded mixed and mastered in Krishna Digidesign.Apart from song recordings the studio undertakes re-recording projects. Today the studio and its audio engineers had made a mark in the area of mastering and mixing of songs.
Chithra's father, the late Krishnan Nair, was also her first guru (teacher). She started singing at her house as well she used to sing in neighbour's occasional events. Her mother Shantha, who is a veena player (not professionally) used to teach Chithra and her elder sister Beena some devotional slokas and asked them to perform in front of God. Chithra is regarded as one of the legendary singers in film industry, many singers and music directors like Shreya Ghoshal, Chinmayi, Devi Sri Prasad, Manisharma, Mickey J Meyer, Sunitha Upadrashta, Shweta Pandit, Shweta Mohan, Armaan Malik Ramya Behra, Sri Krishna claim her as their role model. Being a legend herself, she acknowledges all her senior singers and music directors as her inspiration.
Work and association with music directors
Chithra has sung more than 25,000 songs in number of Indian languages. But predominatly she works in South Indian film industry. Chithra has the fame of working with huge number of music directors across India. She has recorded maximum number of songs to the music directors like A. R. Rahman, Ilayaraja, M. M. Keeravani, Koti, S. V. Krishna Reddy, Hamsalekha, Raveendran, Johnson, Sharreth, S. A. Rajkumar, Manisharma, Vidyasagar, Deva, Devi Sri Prasad, Anu Malik, Mickey J Meyer in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. She has recorded huge number of duets with singers like S.P.Balasubrahmanyam, K. J. Yesudas, M. G. Sreekumar, Mano, Hariharan, Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu, Rajesh Krishnan, Karthik, P. Unnikrishnan, Shankar Mahadevan, Vijay Yesudas in all Indian languages. Chithra, Mano, S.P.Balasubrahmanyam have a special fame of recording all the songs in one film dominatly from 1990-1997 mostly in Telugu and few Tamil films. She has even recorded hit female duets with P. Susheela, Vani Jairam, S. Janaki, S. P. Sailaja, Sujatha Mohan, Shreya Ghoshal, Shweta Mohan, Swarnalatha, Minmini, Sadhana Sargam, Harini, Sunidhi Chauhan, Alka Yagnik, Madhushree, Sunitha Upadrashta in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam & Hindi. The most successful duet combination was S.P.B-Chithra duo in Telugu especially. They have sung maximum number of songs to so many music directors together. They have a fame of recording 2,500 songs to composers Raj-Koti where in total Raj-Koti composed 3,000 songs. Chithra sang some rare duets with the actor and singer Dr.Rajkumar in Kannada. She has been singing since more than 3 decades and yet gets chances to work with latest film music directors like Santhosh Narayanan, Gopi Sundar, S. S. Thaman, Devi Sri Prasad, Mickey J Meyer, Sai Karthik, Ghibran.
Performances in concerts (India & abroad)
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), at Tamil Nadu (Airtel Super Singer Junior), 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 many of the ETV(Telugu) music-shows like Swarabhishekam, Super Masti, Jhumandi Nadam etc. She is regular singer in Ilayaraja's, A.R.Rahman's and S.P.Balasubrahmanyam's concert. 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, Karthik & Shweta Mohan.
Chithra recorded her first studio album with Voodoo Rapper for the album called Ragga Raaga in 1993. 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. Sunset Point had eight songs written and narrated by Gulzar and sung by Chithra and Bhupinder. 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. In 2009 she released Nightingale: A Salute to Lataji, a musical tribute to Lata Mangeshkar on her 80th birthday. 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.
Chithra has established her own recording label, Audiotracs, to promote new artists to collaborate with her as singers, lyricists and music directors.
Association with A. R. Rahman
Chithra is the only female singer who has sung the most number songs for A. R. Rahman.
"Chithraji is a sweetest human being that I have ever seen in my life. she completes every song in just 10 minutes. She has sung 25 to 30 songs per day in that prime time, that talent we cannot see in every singer. The name of K S Chithra needs to be etched on a marble in golden letters for generations to remember her for her contribution in the field of music" - A R Rahman
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. 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. 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. Attendees included K. J. Yesudas, V. Dakshinamurthy, Sreekumaran Thampi, P. Susheela, Hariharan, P. Jayachandran, Usha Uthup, M.K. Arjunan, Johnson, Shyam, M. Jayachandran, M. G. Sreekumar, Sharath, Sujatha Mohan, Unni Menon, Srinivas, G. Venugopal, Minmini, and Priyadarshan.
Chithra is married to Vijayashankar, an engineer and businessman and settled in Chennai. They had only one daughter Nandana, who drowned in a pool in Dubai in 2011 when Chithra was about to perform in A. R. Rahman's concert.
Chithra has performed in India, the Middle East, Bangladesh, Singapore, Malaysia, United Kingdom, France, United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Uganda, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark.
Performances outside India
Awards, honours and recognition
Chithra has won six National Awards for best female playback singer, the highest by any female playback singer.
Indian honours system:
National Film Awards:
Filmfare Awards South:
Kerala State Film Awards:
Nandi Awards (Andhra Pradesh State Film Awards):
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards:
Karnataka State Film Awards:
Orissa State Film Awards:
Bollywood Movie Awards:
Global Indian Music Academy Awards (GIMA):
MTV Video Music Award:
Star Screen Awards:
MTV Immies Awards:
South Indian International Movie Awards:
Mirchi Music Awards South:
CineMAA Awards :
Santosham Film Awards:
Asianet Film Awards:
Mathrubhumi Film Awards:
Gulf Malayalam Music Awards (GMMA):
Kerala Film Critics Association Awards:
SIIMA Awards :
Gulf Andhra Music Awards (GAMA):