Born On: July 27, 1963
Born In: Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala
Career: Classical singer
Popularly known as Chinna Kuyil (Little Nightingale) of South India, she has shown her versatility in languages by singing in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Oriya, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Badaga and Punjabi films. Chitra has gained immense popularity for her melodious voice. It was her father who recognized and nurtured her talent by becoming her first guru. The year 1979 brought Chitra her first playback singing opportunity in Malayalam and since then, there was nothing that could ever stop her. She also performed live concerts with K. J. Yesudas in India and abroad and that was a turning point in her career. She has won the award for the Best Playback Singer more than 12 times and has the unique distinction of being the first female singer in the history of South Indian film playback singing to be honored by all the four southern state governments as the best playback singer.
K. S. Chitra was born in the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. Right from her young age, she learned the music basics from her father, late Krishnan Nair who was a singer and composer of repute. At the graduate and post-graduate levels as well, she chose to learn music and completed her B. A. in Music with the third rank from the university. She went on to complete her MA in music from Kerala University, for which she was chosen under the aegis of the National Talent Search Scholarship program and was trained by Professor K.Omanakutty.
In the year 1979, M. G. Radhakrishnan introduced Chitra to Malayalam playback singing. "Attahasam", "Snehapurvam Meera" and "Njaan Ekananu" were the first few films which she recorded her songs. Along with K. J. Yesudas, she also performed live concerts in India and abroad and that was a turning point in her career. Veteran music directors such as Raveendran, Shyam, Jerry Amaldev, Kannoor Rajan and Johnson also helped climb her career ladder. She made her debut in the Tamil film industry through the song "Poojaikketra Poovithu" from the film Neethana Antha Kuyil, which was composed by Ilaiyaraaja. She was given the title 'Chinna Kuyil' after singing the song "Chinna Kuyil Paadum" from the 1985 released film "Poove Poochudava". It was director Fazil who cast her for this.
By the mid-eighties, Chitra became the most sought after female singer in Malayalam. She recorded many hit songs for the above-listed composers and numerous songs for Ilaiyaraaja in Tamil. She has been accredited as the only female singer to have sung the maximum number of songs for the Academy Award-winning composer A. R. Rahman for his Tamil film songs. She also sang for veteran composers such as G. Devarajan, M. S. Viswanathan, K. V. Mahadevan, Ouseppachan, Deva, Vidyasagar, Bharadhwaj, Chakravarthy, M. Jayachandran, M. M. Keeravani, Hamsalekha, Sharreth, Raj-Koti, Rajan-Nagendra, S. A. Rajkumar, Mani Sharma, Harris Jayaraj, Devisri Prasad and many other south Indian music directors.
Chitra is the only playback singer to be recognized by all the four state governments in South India for her contributions. In addition to singing Malayalam songs, she has recorded many memorable Hindi songs for various music directors in Bollywood, namely A. R. Rahman, Anand-Milind, Anu Malik, Rajesh Roshan, Viju Shah, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Naushad, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Jatin-Lalit and many others. She also recorded the Hindi versions of her own Tamil songs sung for A. R. Rahman. As a female singer, Chitra has sung the maximum number of solo songs for the Tamil and Telugu film songs of A. R. Rahman. She has in her credit, private albums in Hindi, namely Piya Basanti and Sunset Point. The former was penned by Ustad Sultan Khan and was certified Gold, while the latter was penned by Gulzar.
Awards and Accolades
- 2005 - Padma Shri - India's fourth highest civilian honor
National Film Awards
- 2004 - Best Female Playback Singer - Song: "OvvoruPookkalume"
- 1997 - Best Female Playback Singer - Song: "Payalein Chun Mun"
- 1996 - Best Female Playback Singer - Song: "Maana Madurai"
- 1989 - Best Female Playback Singer - Song: "IndupushpamChoodiNilkumRaathri"
Filmfare Awards South
- 2009: Filmfare Best Female Playback Award (Malayalam) - "KunnatheKonnakyum"
- 2008: Filmfare Best Female Playback Award (Malayalam) - "OduvilOru"
- 2006: Filmfare Best Female Playback Award (Malayalam) - "KalabhamTharam"
- 2006: Filmfare Best Female Playback Award (Kannada) - "AraluvaHoovugale"
She has also received 15 awards for the best female playback singer from Kerala State Government, 8 awards from Andhra Pradesh State Government, 4 awards from Tamil Nadu State Government and 3 awards from Karnataka State Government. Chithra was also honored with the Kalaimamani title from Tamil Nadu Government in 1997, the Swaralaya Yesudas Award in 2004, Kalaiselvam title from the South Indian Nadigar Sangam in 2002, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Global Malayalee Council in London in 2003.
Chitra has been awarded with an honorary Doctorate degree by the Chennai-based Sathyabama University for her tremendous achievement in the field of cinema music. Recently, she was bestowed upon with C. Cheriyan Memorial Award by Cochin Fine Arts Society, Swaralaya - Eenam Award for Best Female Singer and Chakkulathamma Swaravarsha Award. Furthermore, her song "Kehna Hi Kya (Kannalane)" from the film Bombay (1995) was included in The Guardian's "1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear" list.
- 1963: K. S. Chitra was born.
- 1979: Introduced to Malayalam playback singing.
- 1986: Got her first National Film award.
- 1987: She got married.
- 2002: She was blessed with a daughter suffering from Autism.
- 2004: She got her first Filmfare award South.
- 2005: She was honored with Padma Shri.
- 2011: Her daughter passed away.