It’s Asha Bhosle’s Birthday!!!! How Wonderful! 83 years old today! And you want to know something interesting? It’s also Patsy Cline’s birthday! Another female singer who had a lot of life and a lot of love and an amazing voice.
I’m not going to do 89 reasons, because that’s INSANE. But I am going to do 16, for the age Asha was when she ran away from home and started her life down a path that would lead to her being the most adventurous singer of Indian film.
1.1. Here is one of her first songs, her voice is mixed with 2 others, this is how she started out, the good journeyman singer who would do whatever she was asked and do it perfectly.
2. And she is still willing to support other singers decades later, after she achieved massive fame! Asha did a duet video with Australian cricketer/aspiring pop star Brett Lee. I find it adorable.
3. That’s what Asha is today, and for the past couple decades, a beloved icon representing all that is light and happy and good in Indian film music. But back in 60s and 70s, she was just Lata Mangeshkar’s younger sister, a divorced mother desperate to pick up whatever singing jobs she could, your second choice if you couldn’t get Geeta Dutt for your fun club number. That changed slowly, but it was her collaboration with composer (and her future husband) RD Burman in a series of fun club hits that really jumpstarted her career.
4. Not just RD Burman, but Helen brought Asha to a whole new level. Or she brought Helen to a new level? According to stories and interviews, Helen used to try to attend Asha’s recording sessions whenever possible, so she could better understand what Asha was doing with her songs and better plan her performances around Asha.
5. Even without Helen dancing, or really any visual beyond a simple image of a woman singing, Asha’s voice can still soar.
6. This is a song from well into their mutual career. Asha was 45 and Helen was 40. And yet, oh my gosh!
7. I love this “song”. RD decided to try an experiment and have it spoken instead of sung. And, as always, Asha was up for the challenge! That’s one of the best things about her as an artist, she was always willing to try something new.
8. Speaking of trying new things, after becoming the queen of cabaret numbers in the 70s, Asha pulled out this magnificent album to start off the 80s, lowering her voice an octave and drawing on her classical training to give voice to a classic Tawaif.
9. And then in the 90s, she reinvented herself again, with the help of AR Rahman and Urmila Matondkar, a elderly widow somehow embodying youth and sex and romance.
10. And also embodying youth and love and innocence. I love this song, by the way. It is so simple, and yet so lovely.
11. This song, not quite so innocent!
12. One thing that is really amazing about Asha, is how she is able to convincingly be the “voice” of every major actress for the past 50 years. From Zeenat Aman.
13. To Sharmila.
14. To Kajol.
15. To Aishwarya.
16. And finally, to end, my favorite Asha song, which isn’t by Asha at all, it’s just about her. But it so perfectly encapsulates what Asha’s voice and music means to not just India, but to the Indian diaspora worldwide.
And, as I said, it’s also Patsy’s birthday today. So, BONUS: a few songs from one of America’s great female voices.