K. S. Chithra,(Malayalam: കെ.എസ്.ചിത്ര) credited as Chitra, is a legendary six time National film awards winning singer who has made her mark in the Indian (film) playback industry. Known as the “Nightingale of South India”, she has lent her voice to Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Oriya, Hindi, Assamese and Bengali films.
Born on July 27, 1963, in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala, into a family of musicians, Chithra’s talent was recognized and nurtured from an early age by her father, the late Krishnan Nair. He was also her first guru (teacher). Chithra received her extensive training in Carnatic music from Dr. K. Omanakutty, after she was selected for the National Talent Search Scholarship from the Central Government from 1978 – 1984. She is married to Vijayashankar, an engineer and businessman. Her only daughter Nandana, was born in 2002 in Chennai.
Chitra was introduced to Malayalam playback singing by M. G. Radhakrishnan in 1979. She made her debut in the Tamil film industry in Chennai under the guidance of film music composer Ilaiyaraaja.Poojaikketra poovithu song Film- Neethana Antha kuil is the first song in Tamil music by Illaya raja. Her knowledge of South Indian languages and Hindi enables her to render songs with originality and perfection. Ilaiyaraaja has contributed so much to Chitra's glory. Fazil was doing a remake his Malayalam movie in Tamil Poove Poochudava a strong subject movie with wonderful music of Illayaraja . Raja heard Chitra’s voice in the Malayalam version and got impressed by that and asked her for audition. Then her turn came for the movie Nee thana antha kuyil with a beautiful song “Poojaiketa Poovidhu”. “Antha Kuyil has incidentally become China Kuyil of South India”. Since then she has sung some wonderfully melodious songs mostly with classical overtures in Tamil Films and it is astounding that the Meastro Illayaraja & A.R.Rahman have fetched her some memorable songs leading to the National awards but nobody would have got the best singing virtues out of her than the Maestro. She gave a touch of vibrance and youthfulness to many Actresses in Tamil Cinema with her lovely voice.. She is the inspiration for many upcoming female playback singers
Chithra has recorded thousands of film and non-film songs. During her career, numerous recognitions have come her way including six National Awards for best female playback singer.She is just behind Yesudas who has won 7 national awards as a singer. This is the highest number of national awards awarded to any female playback singer. She has won the awards for the following films:
She has also received 15 awards for the best female playback singer from Kerala State Government, 7 awards from Andhra Pradesh State Government, 4 awards from Tamil Nadu State Government and 3 awards from Karnataka State Government. She is the only playback singer to be recognised by all the four state governments in South India for her contributions.
Chithra was also honoured with the Kalaimamani title from Tamil Nadu Government in 1997, the K. J. Yesudas Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004, Kalaiselvam title from the South Indian Nadigar Sangam in 2002, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Global Malayalee Council in London in 2003. She has also received numerous mainstream awards like MTV Video Music Award, Screen – Videocon Award, Film Fans Association Awards, and Cinema Express Awards. She has in her credit, private albums in Hindi, namely Piya Basanti and Sunset Point. Her first ghazal album with Masterio Ghulam Ali and Asha Bhosle is ready for release. She recently released an album in dedication to Smt.M.S.Subbulakshmi named My Tribute. It is a collection of krithis and bhajans dedicated to Smt.M.S.Subbulakshmi. Sony is planning to release a solo album soon owing to success of Piya Basanti. Recognising her contribution to the music world, Smt. Chithra has been conferred the prestigious Padma Shri title by the Government of India in 2005.