Padma Vibhushan for singing legend Asha Bhonsle

New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) Gifted with one of the most versatile voices in the industry, Asha Bhonsle has sung every genre of song, be it pop, club mixes, romantic numbers, bhajans and ghazals.

Now the singing legend is all set to receive India's second highest civilian honour Padma Vibhushan Award for her contribution to the field of cinema.

From "Piya tu ab to aaja" to "Dum maro dum" and "Kambakht ishq", singing diva Asha Bhosle has been enthralling listeners with her vivacious and versatile numbers for more than six decades and has bagged many awards - from National Award for best playback singer to Dada Saheb Phalke Award.

From Madhubala to Helen in the older films to newer actresses Urmila Matondkar and Kareena Kapoor, the divas are bound by a common thread - the evergreen voice of Asha Bhonsle.

Asha's songs have made memorable many of the cabaret numbers by yesteryears' diva Helen, including "O haseena julfon wali" and "Yeh mera dil pyaar ka deewana".

Born into the musical family of Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar, Asha trained in music from her father. But it came to an abrupt end when he died. She was just nine years old then.

After his death, the family moved from Pune to Kolhapur and then to Mumbai. Asha and her elder sister, Lata Mangeshkar, started singing in films to support their family.

Asha sang her first film song "Chala chala nav bala" for the Marathi movie "Majha Bal" in 1943. Her first Hindi song was "Saawan aaya" for Hansraj Bahl's "Chunariya" in 1948.

The year 1957 was the breakthrough year for Asha when O.P. Nayyar used her to sing the heroine's songs in "Tumsa Nahin Dekha" and "Naya Daur". The same year the legendary S.D. Burman had a rift with Lata Mangeshkar.

This came as a blessing in disguise for Asha, who soon became his favourite female singer. In the 1970s, Asha came closer to another legend of Indian music, R.D. Burman, who gave a new hip and happening sound to her singing. The songs "Piya tu ab to aajaa", "Dum maro dum" and "Chura liya hai tumne" were a result of this combination.

But it was her immortal ghazals for Muzaffar Ali's "Umrao Jaan" that fetched her huge accolades and a National Award. The songs "Dil cheez kya hai", "In aankhon ki masti", "Yeh kaisi jagah hai doston" not only proved her versatility but are still all-time favourites.

For her contribution to music in Indian cinema, Asha was conferred the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, the highest title in Indian cinema in 2000.

She is a source of inspiration for wannabe singers.

Her popularity is not confined to Indian shores! She has collaborated with artistes like Boy George and Stephen Lauscombe. In 2002, she teamed with Michael Stipe on the track "The Way You Dream" on the self-titled album by 1 Giant Leap.

In 1997, the British band Cornershop paid tribute to Asha with their song "Brimful of Asha", an international hit which was later remixed by Fatboy Slim.

In 2001, the CD single of Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like A Bird" included a "Nellie vs. Asha Remix" created by Digital Cutup Lounge.

In 2005, American string quartet Kronos Quartet re-recorded R.D. Burman compositions like "Chura liya", "Piya tu", "Mera kuchh saaman" among others and got Asha to sing them.

In 2003, British opera pop singer Sarah Brightman sampled her song "Dil cheez kya hai" on her album "Harem". It was used as the intro for her song "You Take My Breath Away".

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