Alka Yagnik is a Bollywood playback singer. Born on March 20, 1966 in a Gujarati family, she learnt singing from her mother, Shubha Yagnik, a Hindustani classical singer herself. Her talent was obvious to all even when she was a child - she started her musical career singing bhajans at Calcutta Radio when she was only 6 years old.
Alka's mother brought her to Mumbai when she was 10 years old so that she could pursue her career as a child singer. She even managed to get a letter of introduction to Raj Kapoor from a Kolkata film distributor. Raj Kapoor was so impressed after he heard her, that he sent her to music director Laxmikant (of Laxmikant-Pyarelal) with a note of recommendation.
Her first break as a playback singer was for music director Rajkamal, in the movie "Payal Ki Jhankar" (1979). Her first hit was “Mere Angene Mein” in the movie “Laawaris” in 1981. However, the turning point in her career came in 1988, when she sang the song “Ek Do Teen” in the movie “Tezaab”. The song became a super hit and catapulted her to stardom. It also won her the first Filmfare Best Female Playback Singer award.
All her songs in the 1988 movie “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak” also turned out to be hits. Her popularity grew rapidly and she dominated the Bollywood music scene in the 1990s and worked with a number of music directors like Nadeem - Shravan, Anu Malik, A.R. Rahman and Anand - Milind, among others.
Beyond her Hindi songs for Bollywood, she sang in a number of other languages - Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Punjabi, Manipuri, Assamese, among others.
In 2001, her song “Chamma Chamma” from “China Gate” featured in the song “Hindi Sad Diamonds” in the Hollywood movie “Moulin Rouge”. She has also sung in non-film albums like “Tum Yaad Aaye”, “Shairana” and “Tum Aaye” with Javed Akthar and Hariharan, apart from a number of devotional songs. She has also rendered the Hanuman Chalisa.
Alka Yagnik has also been seen as a judge in television music reality shows like “Sa Re Ga Ma – Li’l Champs Challenge” in 2006 and “Voice of India” in 2007.
She has won the National Award twice - in 1994 for “Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke” and again, for “Kuch Kuch Hota Hain” in 1999. Alka Yagnik (along with Asha Bhosle) holds the title of winning the most number of Filmfare Awards (7) by a single female playback singer.