chitraksKrishnan Nair Shantakumari Chithra (born 27 July 1963), often credited as K. S. Chithra or simply Chithra, is an Indian playback singer fromKerala. Chithra also sings Indian classical, devotional, and popular music. She has lent her voice to Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Oriya,Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Badaga, Sanskrit, Tulu, Urdu and Punjabi songs. Through a career spanning more than three decades, she has recorded over 20,000 songs. She is a recipient of six National Film Awards (the most by any female singer), five Filmfare Awards South and 31 different state film awards. She has won all the four south Indian state film awards.

Chithra is popularly and fondly referred to as Chinna Kuyil (English: Little Nightingale of South India) or Keralathinte Vanambadi (English:Nightingale of Kerala).

Born on 27 July 1963, in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, into a family of musicians, Chithra’s talent was recognised and nurtured from an early age by her father, the late Krishnan Nair. He was also her first guru (teacher). Her elder sister K. S. Beena is also a playback singer. Chithra received her extensive training in Carnatic music from Dr. K. Omanakutty, and got a Masters degree in Music from the University of Kerala. 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 and settled in Chennai.

Chithra was introduced to Malayalam playback by M. G. Radhakrishnan in 1979 and went on to become a regular singer for many chitra2Malayalam musicians, including Raveendran. Attahasam,Snehapurvam Meera and Njaan Ekananu were the first few films in which she recorded her songs. She also performed live concerts with K. J. Yesudas in India and abroad and that was a turning point in her career. Veteran music directors such as Raveendran, Shyam, Jerry Amaldev, Mohan Sithara, Kannur Rajan and Johnson also helped her move up in her career ladder. She made her debut in the Tamil film industry through the song “Poojaikketha Poovithu” from the film Neethana Antha Kuyil, which was composed by Ilaiyaraaja. She was given the title Chinnakuyilafter singing the song “Chinna Kuyil Paadum” from the 1985 released film Poove Poochudava. Director Fazil cast her for this song after Ilaiyaraaja got impressed with her song sung in original version in Malayalam for the film Nokkethadhoorathu Kannum Nattu in 1985 directed by himself.

Chithra has won six National Awards for best female playback singer. This is the highest number of national awards awarded to any female playback singer. She has won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Singer 15 times. She is the only person to win Kerala State Film Awards most number of times in a row (11 times).

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