On Christmas Eve, Indian singer and UAE golden visa holder KS Chitra, who has sung more than 25,000 songs in a career spanning four decades, will regale her fans with her mellifluous voice with a concert in Dubai.
Often described as the nightingale of Kerala owing to her sweet voice, the cherubic singer told Gulf News in an exclusive interview that she’s mighty charged at the thought of performing for her army of fans who have always been her pillar of strength and support.
“It’s always a pleasure to perform in Dubai. My fans are my biggest source of energy … I will be singing songs in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada. Singing is one of my biggest blessings in life,” said KS Chitra ahead of her concert.
The 58-year-old, who was honoured with the coveted Padma Bhushan (India’s third highest civilian honour) last month, will pay tribute to legends such as Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, KJ Yesudas and SP Balasubrahmanyam (SPB) during her first gig in a world fraught by COVID-19.
Aptly titled ‘Musically Yours: A Timeless Tribute To Timeless Melodies’, the evening will be a combination of her own hits such as ‘Kehna Hi Kya’ (‘Bombay’) and ‘Yeh Haseen Vaadiyan’ (‘Roja’), along with iconic songs made famous by other Indian legends. “I have been practicing a lot to make sure that the standards they have set is maintained,” said Chitra.
Excerpts from our interview with the iconic singer as we talk about living through COVID-19, her long-enduring fame, and how late singer SPB pulled her out of depression.
Q: COVID-19 pandemic had done a number on live concerts and your performance marks the revival of the concert season. Tell us more about what you have in store for us in Dubai?
A: I am excited and all my musicians are excited because for the last two years we haven’t done any live concerts. I want everyone to come, but they should play safe and take all precautions. I want everyone to be safe at the concert. We haven’t seen any audience for the past few years and we are really excited to see them all. It is such an unusual time.
Q: How did you survive the pandemic and come to terms with the isolation?
A: Till the pandemic happened, I was keeping so busy. Just before COVID-19 hit, I was all set to travel to Singapore for a reality show but then the lockdown came. I was simply sitting at home and began feeling depressed.
I didn’t know what I should do with myself at that time, but then SPB spoke to me and told me that he was doing an album on raising awareness about COVID-19. He was working on videos on how to be safe and the importance of staying inside through his songs.
And when I spoke to him, I realised that here’s an artiste who’s keeping himself busy all the time. Despite COVID-19, he’s doing so many things at home and why should we all just sit idle. And then I got in touch with all the singers I knew on my WhatsApp group and suggested that we sing a song. Every singer on that group had to sing just one line and that’s how ‘Lokam Muzhuvan Sukham Pakaranayi’ was born.
Q: Go on...
A. It became a movement of sorts. Having said that, it was a logistical nightmare to get all the singers on board, but somehow it clicked. So many people began doing the same song with their families and I was hugely inspired. Then I asked Sreekumaran Thampy [prominent lyricist] and his wife Raji chechi to write a few lines for me as a part of a COVID-19 album.
Through our songs in that album, we spoke about the importance of sanitising and wearing masks … My seniors motivated me and proved that they were not simply sitting at home. SPB sir even did an album thanking all the healthcare workers and he made me sing the Malayalam version of that song. They are the ones who encouraged me through this difficult phase.
Q: You have always been a portrait of a smiling and optimism. How do you keep the faith alive?
A: I believe in positive energy. I have this want of being in the middle of positive people. I hate negativity and I hate people who say something but behave in the opposite manner. I want to surround myself with good, positive people. Perhaps, that’s why I love to be around children. Perhaps, that’s why I love judging reality shows and that’s the best part about my life right now. I get to listen to some good songs from children and I get their love. I am enjoying those moments.
Q: Your concert in Dubai is a tribute to Bollywood legends. How do you pick and choose songs for the playlist?
A: I am leaving that whole responsibility to Naresh ji [Naresh Oberoi, Managing Director of Oberoi Middle East Events, and concert organiser] because he has such a vast experience in the field of music. He knows the pulse of the UAE audience and I know he will choose right. On my part, I will have to do a lot of practice to perform before all of you. We are doing a tribute to all these legendary singers and I want to make sure that I don’t spoil those songs. These singers that I am paying tribute to has created a standard and I need to meet those standards by at least achieving 80 or 90 per cent perfection. Practice is the only way out and practice makes you perfect.
Q: You are one of India’s prolific singers who has also sung in Bollywood and other languages. Was that a conscious call to re-invent yourself?
A: I didn’t plan anything in my career and whatever comes my way, I do it. I make sure that I put my maximum effort into whatever I decide to do. Singing is God-given gift and whatever God gives me, I try to maintain it. I worked with so many legends like Yesudas ji and SPB ji and they always give their maximum. For instance, Yesudas ji takes care of his voice more than any singer I have seen. He’s very disciplined when it comes to even his food and what he drinks. He has his own way of maintaining his voice. I began my career with him initially and I began following some of his ethics and tips. If I tweak it now, my voice gets affected. I am still following whatever he has taught me.
Q: Late singer SPB was someone you had respect and regards for too …
A: I have sung maximum number of songs with SPB sir. He taught me how to express myself through our songs, especially in Telugu. He taught me the meaning of several Telugu words and he taught me how to express those words right while singing during recordings. He was my mentor. The number of songs that I take on has come down drastically, but I still sing every day. We have an audio company called Audio Tracks and through that we are releasing some good music. Honestly, I was always into singing. We hardly went for holidays, and I always focused on my singing profession. It’s not going to change either.
Don’t Miss It!
When: Friday, December 24, 2021
Where: Trade Centre Arena, Dubai World Trade Centre
Time: 9pm (doors open 7pm)
Tickets: Dh50 to Dh2,000
Available at: Platinumlist Dubai or call OME on 050 809 7020