India has a rich musical history and a thriving music industry. And none of it would be possible without the powerful impact of Indian female singers across decades. Most top Indian female singers tend to be classically trained vocalists but you’ll find some singers on this list that have made a place for themselves in the Indian music industry due to sheer raw talent.
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Let’s not keep you waiting and dive straight into learning more about top Indian female singers.
1. Neha Kakkar
The first one on the list is none other than the famous Neha Kakkar. Neha has been winning the hearts of millions of fans for over a decade. In 2019, Neha stood out as one of the most viewed female artists on YouTube with over 4.2 billion views.
Neha belongs to a family of musical artists. Her elder sister is Sonu Kakkar and her elder brother is Tony Kakkar. Neha first started singing at a young age at religious events. Her first foray into the glamorous music industry was in 2006 as a participant in the second season of the musical reality show, ‘Indian Idol’. Even though Neha was eliminated early on in the season, she did not stop trying to achieve her dreams.
Neha debuted in Bollywood in 2008 with the song ‘Hai Rama’ from Meerabai Not Out and hasn’t looked back since. Some of Neha’s famous hits are ‘Patt lainge’ (single with Gippy Grewal), ‘Dilbar’ from Satyameva Jayathe, ‘Aankh Marey’ from Simmba, ‘O Saki Saki’ from Batla House, and ‘Ek Toh Kam Zindagani’ from Marjaavaan.
Neha Kakkar has won many awards in her career. Some of her most prominent awards are ‘Mirchi Social Media Icon of the year’ in 2020, and the ‘Youtube Diamond Award’ in 2019. Neha is the first Indian Singer to win this award.
Neha appeared in the ‘India Forbes Celebrity 100’ list twice. In 2017, Neha was listed at the 64th position and in 2019, at the 29th position. In December 2020, Neha was also placed on the list of ‘Asia’s 100 Digital Stars’ by Forbes.
Neha is not only a successful playback singer but she has been a part of the Indian singing reality shows as a judge for several years. Neha first appeared as a reality show judge on ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Lil Champs’ in 2017. She has gone on to judge Indian Idol in 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively.
2. Shreya Ghoshal
Shreya Ghoshal was yet another gem found at the Indian singing reality show, ‘Sa Re Ga Ma’. Shreya participated in and won Sa Re Ga Ma in 2000 at just the tender age of 16. Shreya is a classically trained singer and was born in Murshidabad, West Bengal.
Shreya was famously discovered by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s mother. She recalled young Shreya’s singing in Sa Re Ga Ma and mentioned it to the filmmaker. Bhansali ended up giving Shreya a chance to sing for the film, ‘Devdas’.
Thus began Shreya Goshal’s journey to stardom. Shreya won a ‘National Film Award’, a ‘Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer’ and a ‘Filmfare RD Burman Award for New Music Talent’ for her playback singing in Devdas.
Some of Shreya’s hits over the years are ‘Jadu hai Nasha Hai’ from Jism, ‘Dheere Jalna’ from Paheli, ‘Bairi Piya’ from Devdas, ‘Dola Re’ from Devdas, ‘Chikni Chameli’ from Agneepath.
Shreya has appeared as a judge on reality shows such as ‘STAR Voice of India’, ‘Music Ka Maha Muqqabla’, ‘X Factor India’, and ‘Indian Idol Junior’ over the years. Shreya is the first Indian singer to have a wax figure at Madame Tussauds Museum in Delhi.
Shreya Goshal is known amongst the industry for her versatile singing and her sweet and slightly husky voice. Shreya has over 1000 songs under her belt!
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3. Alka Yagnik
Alka Yagnik has been a part of the Indian music industry for over four decades and has recorded songs in over 25 languages. One of the most prolific Indian female singers, Alka has over 20 songs in the ‘BBC’s Top 40 Bollywood Sound Tracks of all time’. Alka ranked no. 1 in Youtube’s Music Charts and Insights list in 2021.
Alka started singing Bhajans for ‘Akashvani’ (All India Radio) at the age of six. Alka’s mother had high hopes for her daughter and took her to Mumbai to meet with Raj Kapoor after securing a Letter of Recommendation from his Kolkata distributor. Raj Kapoor introduced Alka to the famous music director, Laxmikant.
Alka debuted in Bollywood with the song ‘Thirkat Ang’ from Payal Ki Jhankar in 1980. Alka’s first hit was ‘Ek Do Teen’ from Tezaab in 1988. She won her first Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer.
Some of Alka Yagnik’s hits over the years have been ‘Mere Angane Mein’ from Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, ‘Choli Ke Peeche’ from Khalnayak, and ‘Chamma Chamma’ from China Gate.
With over 9000 songs under her belt, Alka Yagnik is a true maestro of her art. Alka debuted on Indian Television as a judge on the reality show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs in 2006. She has since been a recurring and popular judge on the show.
4. Sunidhi Chauhan
Sunidhi Chauhan is one of the most iconic female playback singers in the Indian music industry. Sunidhi started her singing career when she was only 12 years old. Her parents moved Sunidhi to Mumbai after realising her potential as a singer. She sang ‘Ladki Deewani Dekho’ in Shastra in 1996.
Sunidhi also won ‘Meri Awaz Suno’, India’s first reality singing competition on the DD channel in the same year. At this Sunidhi hadn’t had any classical training. After realising the need to develop herself further as a classical singer, Sunidhi went on to train under Gautam Mukherjee.
Sunidhi’s first major hit was the song ‘Ruki Ruki Si Zindagi’ from Mast in 1999 and she won the ‘RD Burman Award for New Music Talent’. This song catapulted Sunidhi’s career into the limelight.
Sunidhi has come to be known as the most versatile playback singer in Bollywood. Some of Sunidhi’s famous hits are ‘Dhoom Machale’ from Dhoom, ‘Mehboob mere’ from Fiza. ‘Beedi’ from Omkara won Sunidhi her first Filmfare Award.
Sunidhi has been seen on television as a judge on reality shows such as ‘Indian Idol’, ‘The Voice’, ‘The Remix’, and ‘Dil Hai Hindustani’. Sunidhi has been listed in the Forbes top ‘100 Indian Celebrities’ list for four consecutive times from the year 2012 to 2015.
5. Asees Kaur
Asees Kaur is an upcoming female singer from Panipat, Haryana. Ever since Asees was a young Gurbani singer, she wanted to sing in films. To make her dream come true Asees participated in singing reality shows such as ‘Indian Idol’ and ‘Awaaz Punjab Di’.
Asees debuted in Bollywood with ‘Dildara Reprise’ in Tamanchey. Asees has largely been known for her Gurbani recitations amongst her Punjabi fans. But she has been making her place in Bollywood slowly since 2016. Asees won the ‘Best Female Playback Singer Award’ in 2021 for her song ‘Hui Malang’ from Malang.
Some of Asees’s hits over the years are ‘Ve Mahi’ from Kesari, ‘Chogada’ from LoveYatri, and ‘Raataan Lambiyan’ from Shershah.
6. Dhvani Bhanushali
Dhvani Bhanushali was born and brought up in Mumbai. She studied Business Entrepreneurship in College. Her father is Vinod Bhanushali, the President of Global Marketing and Media Publishing for T-Series.
Dhvani first came to notice in 2017 when she sang ‘Vaaste’, which crossed a billion views on YouTube. She became the youngest Indian popstar on Youtube to have the fastest billion views.
After Vaaste’s success, Dhvani went on to sing her first Bollywood song ‘Ishtehaar’ for Welcome to New York. Dhvani next came to notice when ‘Dilbar’ became the first Hindi song to enter the Billboard Top Ten list. Dhvani sang ‘Dilbar’ along with Neha Kakkar and Ikka Singh.
Dhvani has since co-sung with established music industry giants such as Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Boman Irani, Mika Singh, and Badshah etc.
7. Tulsi Kumar
Tulsi Kumar started her career in 2009 when she released her debut album ‘Love Ho Jaye’ and sang her first Bollywood song ‘Mujhe Teri’ from Paathshaala.
Tulsi’s father is the legendary Lt. Gulshan Kumar and her mother is Sudesh Kumari. Her siblings Bhushan Kumar and Khushali Kumar are equally established players in the music industry.
Her collaborations with Darshan Raval are a fan favourite. In 2020, Tulsi and Darshan released ‘Tere Naal’ which instantly became a hit on Youtube. ‘Is Qadar’ and ‘Shaadiwala song’ are two other hits sung by the duo.
Tulsi has been married to Hitesh Ralhan since 2015.
8. Palak Muchhal
Born in 1992, Palak Muchhal is not only known across Bollywood for her strong playback singing but also for her social work initiative, ‘The Palak Muchhal Heart Foundation’.
Palak was born and brought up in Indore. Palak’s first foray into the world of singing was when she was only 7 years old. Palak sang at local shops to raise funds for families affected by the Kargil war. As of the last count, Palak Muchhal’s Heart Foundation has saved over 2200 childrens’ lives.
Some of Palak’s Bollywood hits are ‘Mann Ki Dori’ from Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, ‘Do Pal Pyaar Key, ‘Kaabil Hoon’ from Kaabil.
In 2000, Palak received the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puruskar for her efforts to save children’s lives. She also won ‘Stardust Award for Best Female Playback Singer’ for ‘Naam Ratan Dhan Paayo’ in 2015.
9. Monali Thakur
A ‘National Film Award’ winner and an Indian Idol Season 2 participant, Monali Thakur belongs to a musical family from Bengal. Monali has been singing and training to be a playback singer since she was a little girl.
Monali won her first award for playback singing when she was only 14. Monali debuted in Bollywood with the song ‘Kubool Kar le‘ in the 2006 film ‘Jaan-E-Mann’. Monali’s first super hit song was ‘Zara Zara Touch Me’ from the film, Race. She won the ‘National Film Award’ for her song ‘Moh Moh Ke Dhaage’.
Monali has been a part of the Indian singing reality show world at all stages from being a participant in Indian Idol Season 2 to being a judge on shows like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Bangla, MTV Youth and Super Singer.
10. Neeti Mohan
A popular and talented multilingual playback singer, Neeti Mohan has songs in Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, and Punjabi. Neeti Mohan, a Delhi local found her foothold in the Indian music Industry after she won Channel V’s reality show, ‘Popstar’. Her sisters Shakti Mohan and Mukti Mohan are equally famous for their stints in dance reality shows such as Dance India Dance and Zara Nach Ke Dikha, respectively.
Some award-winning hits by Neeti are ‘Sau Aasman’ from the film Baar Baar Dekho, ‘Jiya Re’ from the film Jab Tak Hain Jaan, and ‘Ishq Walaa Love’ from Student of the Year.
In 2013, Neeti won the ‘RD Burman Award for New Music Talent’ and the ‘Filmfare Best Female Playback Singer Award’ in the same year. In 2019, Neeti got married to Model Nihaar Pandya.
National Award Winners for ‘Best Female Playback Singer’:
|Indian Female Singer||No. of National Awards (As of 2021)|
10 Fun Facts about the top 10 Indian Female Singers:
- Neha Kakkar started singing in public at the age of 4.
- Neha Kakkar’s siblings, Sonu Kakkar and Tony Kakkar are both singers.
- Shreya Ghoshal made her debut in Bollywood with the filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali in the film Devdas.
- Alka Yagnik used to sing bhajans as a child for the All India Radio.
- Sunidhi Chauhan’s original name is Nidhi Chauhan. It was changed by the famous composer Kalyanji as he considered Sunidhi a lucky name.
- Asees Kaur was a Gurbani devotional singer for most of her early career.
- Dhvani Bhanushali became the youngest Indian popstar to hit over a billion views for her first single ‘Vaaste’.
- Palak Muchhal has largely sung to raise money to save as many children as she can.
- Monali Thakur was a participant in ‘Indian Idol 2’ and was eliminated pretty early on in the show.
- Neeti Mohan found her fame when she won the reality singing show, ‘Popstar’ on Channel V. Her sisters Shakti Mohan and Mukti Mohan also found their fame when they participated in dance reality shows such as Dance India Dance and Zara Nach Ke Dikha.
Neha Kakkar is undoubtedly the No.1 female singer in India.
Dhvani Bhanushali became the youngest Indian popstar for her first single ‘Vaaste’.
She started singing at the age of 4.
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