Queen of pop Usha Uthup in Sydney


Manju Mittal - Probash - Usha Uthup

By Manju Mittal

Usha Uthup is a popular Indian, Pop, Jazz and playback singer. If there is legend bridging the East and the West, it is Usha. With her music and charm, she has transcended the barriers of caste, creed, language and nationality.

Usha Uthup’s charm and powerful vocal chords have enthralled her fans of all ages throughout the world. With her gifted smooth voice she is the only artist to have recorded six albums in English and she sings in more than thirteen Indian and eight foreign languages. This is an achievement by itself.

I spoke to Usha Uthup recently in Sydney as she sat in a Rydges Hotel Cafe enjoying our typical Aussie breakfast. Dressed in a green and black silk saree, bindi on forehead and silver jewellery, Usha is someone who creates curiosity with her striking personality.

Usha and Manju

Usha Uthup with Manju in Sydney

Here are excerpts of our chit chat:

MM: We admire your kanjeevaram sarees, white gajra and oversized bindi, can you please tell us about it?

Usha: As you can see my bindi, something is written in Bangla and it means Kolkota. Talking about the kanjeevaram sarees, I am glad that it has made such a huge impact on people. I am from middle class family background and I was not into fashion; so the only dress I knew was the saree.

MM: How you have managed to blend two different cultures with your Indian look and western music?

Usha: I was born and brought up in Mumbai and settled in Kolkata. I never had any formal musical training. I just sang what I knew best, what I grew up listening to.

MM: You started with live performances in night clubs at a time when it was rare to see women in such places. How difficult has the journey been?

Usha: Yes, there was a stigma attached to women singing in night clubs but it changed because I was in a saree. My first opportunity was in a small club called Nine Gems in Chennai. It was quite by coincidence that I started singing in other major hotels. From then on I kept getting offers, my next big turning point being when I came to Kolkata and started singing at Trincas. This first exposed me to media. Everything changed from then.

MM: Who influenced , inspired you?

Usha: I come from a very musical family. My influences in the beginning were my two elder sisters, Indira and Uma. My single greatest influence was Radio Ceylon. Moreover, in those days, there was no electronic media to learn from. I believe my greatest influence has been Harry Belafonte.

MM: You have sung in 15 Indian languages and several foreign languages.

Usha: I love languages and people. I believe in music and in Love. I think if one truly believes in all these things, then one must get to the grass roots and, in a way, sing in the languages of the people.

MM: Please tell us how do you manage fame and family?

Usha: It is like any working lady. How do the ladies manage; if you have supportive family things work out beautifully. My dream was to reach out to more people. My husband has been very supportive and always allowed me to grow.

MM: What are your hobbies and pastimes other than singing?

Usha: I love cooking, reading and I enjoy sewing. I stitch my own shalwar kameez; it is like a therapy to me.

Usha Uthup, the Indian iconic singer, came to Sydney, made me fall in love all over again – with life, with romance as I witnessed a great night with this great lady. The atmosphere at the concert was just out of this world as Usha’s powerful voice captured us all. Her music reverberated in our being and I could see many in the audience who just could not stop dancing.

That’s Usha for you. One had to be there in the auditorium to witness the phenomenon.




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