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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1555

National award winning playback singer Swarnalatha passes away

By hyalaya Ramakrishnan reporting from Chennai
Chennai, 14 September, (

Swarnalatha.JPGThe National award winning Cinema playback singer Swarnalatha passed away in a city hospital on Sunday following prolonged illness. She was 37.

The Palakkad-based singer was recently admitted to a private hospital here. She had been suffering from a chronic lung disorder, which had forced her to re treat from limelight for more than a year now.

She was forced to take bed rest for the last couple of months during which she had developed multiple organ complications.

Born in a family of musicians (father K C Cherukutty was a singer and harmonium player, while sister Saroja was her music guru initially), Swarnalatha took to music when she was in her teens. She opened her account in films when M S Viswanathan introduced her in a duet with singer Dr K J Yesudas. The song was Bharathiar's Chinnanchiru Kili ye , for the film Neethikku Thandanai in 1987.

Her next big break came in the film Kshathriyan (1990), in which she sang the melodious solo number, Maalaiyil Yaaro, by maestro Ilayaraja.

Her distinctive voice, which could effortlessly reach high octaves, quickly made her a name to reckon with in the playback music industry. Dur ing the last two decades, Swarnalatha sang over 7,000 songs in Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali and Badaga.

In Tamil, she is best remembered for her song Poraley in Karutwhichi won her a National award in 1995, apart from Povoma Oorgolam (Chinnathambi), En Ulle (Valli), Maasi Masam ( D h a r m a d u r a i ) , Aatamma Therottama (Captain Praba karan), Usilambatti (Gentleman), Muqaala Muqabla (Kadhalan), Evano Oruvan Alaipayuthey and Malai Kovil (Veera).

The death of vocalist Swarnalatha on Sunday sent shockwaves in the music industry where she had many friends.

Legendary music composer M S Viswanathan, who gave the then 14-year old Swarnalatha a break in films, described her as a very talented singer. She is believe d t o have approached him first, when she wanted to launch her career in film music. He gave her a chance in the film Needhikku Thandanai. “I was shocked on hearing the news. Swarnalatha was introduced to films by me, and was highly talented in music,” he said.

Vocalist Mano, who has sung several film songs along with her, apart from performing with her live in many shows, was also a good friend. Mano said he was devastated on hearing about her death.

“She was a great being, who only concentrated on her work and nothing else.

We were introduced around the same time, and honed our singing skills under Ilayaraja. Swarnalatha is a demure, silent person, who despite having friends in the industry, kept all her problems to herself. A spinster with health problems at a relatively young age, I feel god has not been fair to such a nice person as Swarnalatha,” he said.

Singer Chinmayi confessed to being an admirer of the singer, and expressed her condolence on a social networking site.

Swarnalatha , along with S P Balasubramaniam, had crooned for the chart-topping Raakkamma Kaiya thattu song in Thalapathi, which was ranked fourth in BBC’s World Top Ten Songs in 2002. She has sung for all leading music composers, including M S Viswanathan, Ilayaraja, A R Rahman and Vidyasagar.

In Bollywood, Swarnalatha created a sensation with the song Hey Rama in Rangeela and Sunta Hai in Pukar.

Apart from the National award, Swarnalatha is the recipient of several awards, including two Tamil Nadu awards for her songs in Karuthamma and Chinna Thambi. Her most recent hits include Kummi Adi for A R Rahman for the film Sillunnu Oru Kadhal and Vidyasagar’s songs Chithiraiyil Enna Varum in Sivappadhigaram and Poovanathil in Thambi (all in 2006).

A celebrity with a friendly disposition, Swarnalatha had many friends in the music industry. She was residing in Saligramam.

-Asian Tribune -

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