What comes to your mind when the name Usha Uthup comes up? Stunning sarees, gajra, big bindi on forehead, and a smiling energetic face – right? Right through my childhood, I have seen this lady pumping up the stage. In my world, she has always been the rockstar. Who else can set the stage on fire in a saree and wearing a gajra? My grandparents and parents always told me that “look at her how civilized her clothes are- you don’t always need to show your skin to perform!”. That is her power- she is able to connect to me and the older generation.
At 72 also she travels a lot and spreads happiness among people. Here are some facts that you perhaps don’t know about Usha didi:
- At the beginning of her career, she sang in Trincas. It is one of the classiest restaurants in India situated in Park Street of Kolkata. She was the first lady to sing there and that too clad in a saree. Many a time she was asked to change her clothes or at least wear the saree in some other way but she didn’t. She was there to sing and she sang without worrying about these petty things.
- Although a Tamil Brahmin, Usha was born in Bombay. In her school, she was thrown out of the music class.
- Her sisters who were into music introduced her to Ameen Sayani who gave her an opportunity to sing in the Ovaltine Music Hour of Radio Ceylon. She sang a number called “Mockingbird Hill”.
- Kolkata is the city that gave her massive popularity but before Trincas, she sang in a few nightclubs in Chennai. Kolkata also introduced her to her husband whom she met at Trincas and also her children were born there. She says Kolkata gave her the love of her life, identity, fame, and adulation. And she can never stay away from the city for long. Many times, she wears a big bindi with “K” written in Bengali on it- as a token of respect to the city.
- She gave her first-ever live performance in Kolkata at Trincas way back on 1st October 1969. Trincas is known to attract all celebrities across the country. Trincas organized a double celebration package for people. On 27th & 28th September, it organized another live performance of Usha Uthup to celebrate her golden jubilee year of performance while the restaurant celebrated its 60th anniversary.
- If you are a fan of her jewelry and sarees, then, you must know that she loves to shop from Kanishka, a famous South Kolkata boutique, and Chamba Lama, a Tibetan jewelry shop in the New Market area of Kolkata.
- Usha Uthup in 0’s broke the stereotypes of music that Kolkata or India listened to. She brought those first rays of jazz and pop among people and no parties are ever complete without her Bollywood songs.
- Usha Uthup says that she never had any formal training in music. Her two elder sisters Uma & Indira started to sing during the ’50s in clubs of Mumbai and she learned music from them. She says that music flows in her naturally.
- Do you know that Usha Uthup sang in 13 regional languages and 8 foreign languages?