The Ladies Sing the Blues

A mixed set of vocalists mark a new era for female playback singing

01 February 2013
Shilpa Rao, Shefali Alvares, Aditi Singh Sharma, Harshdeep Kaur and Nandini Srikar at the the Global Indian Music Academy Awards 2012. These singers are part of a new crop of rising playback stars.
COURTESY GIMA
Shilpa Rao, Shefali Alvares, Aditi Singh Sharma, Harshdeep Kaur and Nandini Srikar at the the Global Indian Music Academy Awards 2012. These singers are part of a new crop of rising playback stars.
COURTESY GIMA

SHEFALI ALVARES LIVES on the top floor of an old, inconspicuous building behind the Bandra Gymkhana in Mumbai. On a late summer afternoon, I climbed up with Alvares’s band members to her flat and onward to the studio on the terrace, where, after they had set up equipment, the 28-year-old playback singer joined them to rehearse for a gig at the Hard Rock Café in Bangalore later that week.

Before the rehearsal, in the living room of her flat, I had spoken to Alvares, who sat goddess-like on a couch, an almost sheer white kurta sheathed over her curvaceous, Phuket-tanned frame. Her wide, kohl-lined eyes came alive as she talked about the three-day holiday she had just returned from. Her signature husky voice, made famous in the chorus of the recent disco rage “Subha Hone Na De”, was almost hoarse from singing her hit song about 20 times during a family wedding in Thailand. “It was ridiculous!” she said, tucking her legs under her. “And exhausting.”

“I never wanted to join Bollywood,” continued Alvares, the daughter of the legendary Indian jazz singer Joe Alvares. “Now I have GIMA and Radio Mirchi award shows and I don’t know what’s going on!” At the annual Global Indian Music Academy Awards held in Mumbai in October 2012, “Subha Hone Na De” was nominated in three categories.

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    Isha Singh Sawhney is a freelance writer based in New Delhi.

    Keywords: Mumbai Bollywood Hindi film music AR Rahman Lata Mangeshkar
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