- Birth Date: 08 Nov 1947
- Birth Place: Chennai
Usha Uthup is a name to reckon with in the music scene today. With an experience of over three decades she enthralls listeners singing in many languages today and has charmed audiences in cinema halls and concert venues.From 'Dum Maro Dum' to 'I believe in Music', Usha continues to leave an indelible mark on the music scene in India.
Usha Uthup or Didi as she is fondly referred to, was born in independent India of parents who came from the traditionally rich states of Madras and Kerala and was raised in the bustling metropolis of Mumbai. With no note of formal training, Usha rose to be a popular singer. "While I was in school I was thrown out of music class because I didn't fit in with a voice like mine.
But my music teacher recognised that I had some music in me would give me clappers or triangles to play." She grew up in an atmosphere of music.Her parents used to listen to a wide range from Western classical to Hindustani and Carnatic.She used to enjoy listening to Radio Ceylon. Her main inspirations - the Sami Sisters, the singing duo (her elder sisters) and Harry Belafonte.
Usha is proud of her middle class background, which she reiterates throughout. "My father was in the police in Bombay. I was the fifth of six children. I had a very happy childhood. I specify middle class because there are a lot of answers that I have derived because I hail from this class - my morals, ethics and the sterling values that have been passed down by my parents. I am very proud to be Indian, my appa and amma's daughter.''
A Robust voice, which has rendered innumerable songs in English and other languages can be none other's than Usha Uthup. She has a unique place in the musical firmament today. She has elevated night club singing imparting it a sense of dignity. She creates a certain magic on stage and with the audience right from the word go. She makes them jive to her renditions - be they English, Hindi or in other languages. Scores of stage shows, hundreds of songs, volumes of experience and yet Usha is the same - down to earth, warm and friendly. Very willing to talk even at a late hour, Usha revealed her magnetic personality and her interests.
Her accidental foray into singing in 1969 charted her path forever. One of the first singers to lend dignity to night club singing, Usha's speciality besides her voice was her style of dressing which remains her signature even today.
Today Usha Uthup sings in more than thirteen Indian and eight foreign languages. With her music and endearing charm, she has transcended the barriers of caste, creed, language and nationality. Besides singing in several Indian languages like Hindi, Punjabi, Bangla, Assamese, Oriya, Khasi, Gujurati, Marathi, Konkani, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu she also sings in French, German, Italian, Sinhalese, Swahili, Russian, Nepalese, Arabic, Creole, and of course, English.
Despite her hectic schedule Usha is brimming with ideas of new projects. "I am working on a multi-lingual album. I am also working on a new series of `Karadi Tales'." Usha fondness for children is revealed when she talks excitedly about some projects she has for them. " I want to capture the life and seasons through songs and thereby project the unity in diversity. For instance, I have prepared a map of the route and I realised that rice and tea are common almost in the whole country. I have other ideas on saris, festivals and cooking oil, chanawala, policemen.... the list is endless. The idea is to make interesting songs with an underlying message, "says this compulsive optimist, whose motto in life is to move on with it which she has demonstrated aptly keeping in mind another maximum `not to progress.