(February 7, 2022) No tribute is enough. No memory can truly explain the depth of emotion and feeling of loss as India grieves its nightingale and Queen of Melody. A legacy that has traversed three generations with her poignant, child-like and memorable voice still rings out loud. The world, too, lost a beacon of immense talent as ambassadors, cricketers like Imran Khan and Shoaib Akhtar, and many international names paid tribute to Lata Mangeshkar. The legendary singer whose name was synonymous with music, with an exhaustive repertoire, is a part of every Indian family. Her death on February 6 left a void as homes across India and the world listened to the 50,000 songs she sang, humming those tunes they grew up with as they watched her funeral pyre with a deep sadness.
With the death of Lata Mangeshkar the subcontinent has lost one of the truly great singers the world has known. Listening to her songs has given so much pleasure to so many people all over the world.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 6, 2022
Lata? Who Lata?
Grammy winner and 2022 nominee Ricky Kej shared a heartfelt anecdote on Instagram, adding to the many across borders about India’s Bharat Ratna, “Absolutely devastated. A true legend, the greatest ever. In February 2015, as I landed in the Bengaluru Airport after winning the Grammy Award, I got a call from a landline number. I picked up the phone and a young 16-year-old voice asked me in Hindi, ‘Is this Ricky Kej,’ I said yes, and asked who it was?. She said, ‘I am Lata.’ I replied, ‘Who Lata?’ I did not know any Lata! She repeated, ‘I am Lata, a singer,’” to which Ricky questioned again.
Just then her manager came on the line saying, “This is Lata Mangeshkar… The Lata Mangeshkar!!!!!.” Kej goes on to add, “I apologised profusely, she laughed. I joked with her that she sounds like a 16-year-old! She laughed even more and told me that a lot of people say that.” Mangeshkar even asked Kej to call her “didi” not maam. He added, “She told me she loves my style of music and she listens to it a lot. We also spoke about my grandfather, who coincidentally she knew… Always so humble, gracious and generous with her time and words. Lata Didi will live on forever, through her voice and through her kindness.”
Even the seven-time Grammy Award-nominated musician Anoushka Shankar felt the blow, recalling her father and sitarist Ravi Shankar’s strong bond with her, “I feel slayed by this news. I had such a good fortune to interact with her through my father. Their relationship was so special. Thinking of her with so much love and gratitude for what she gave the world.”
English singer and songwriter Boy George paid his “deepest” condolences. Tweeting about Lata Mangeshkar, he wrote, “R.I.P Lata Mangeshkar one of India’s most beautiful voices. My deepest condolences to her family and most especially to her sister Asha Bhosle who sang on Bow Down Mister. A gifted family.”
R.I.P Lata Mangeshkar one of India’s most beautiful voices. My deepest condolences to her family and most especially to her sister Asha Bhosle who sang on Bow Down Mister. A gifted family.
— Boy George (@BoyGeorge) February 6, 2022
How Lataji influenced an artist’s saxophone
Her understanding of music and humanity is something that she will always be remembered by.
Subbalaxmi, also called Saxophone Subbalaxmi told Global Indian, “Lataji’s passing away is a global loss but I am certain her voice and songs will live forever and be an encouragement to our young singers. I started learning saxophone in the classical Carnatic genre. Lataji’s songs impacted me to start playing Bollywood songs. Knowingly or unknowingly, I always choose her songs to play on my saxophone. Her voice is etched in my memory forever!” says the musician has given more than 3,000 saxophone performances worldwide.
Closer to home, singer Sona Mohapatra who made her debut on the Times Square Billboard in 2021, called her passing “an end of the golden era of music.” Sona tweeted, “If I were to choose the one single spirit that has inspired India since Independence to aspire for excellence and also experience divinity, it would have to be #LataMangeshkar. Her passing is truly the end of the golden era of film music. #omshanti.”
— Sona Mohapatra (@sonamohapatra) February 6, 2022
Recalling her first meeting with Lata Mangeshkar at Sonu Nigam’s house, Sona wrote, “Upon touching her feet to take her blessings, she sang two lines of my song from Talaash, Jiya Lage Na and told me that I should keep singing such songs. I was shocked that she even knew me. She went onto regale us all with the changing language of songs, the lyrics and also cracked jokes about the political scenario, I realised why she had been at the top of her game for so long, so bright, vital, ‘cool as cool can be’ and in touch with her environment. An empress, timeless and forever. Lata Didi, you will continue to inspire generations to come.”
Breaking the glass ceiling
For Grammy nominated singer who has been rocking Euro indie charts, Vineet Singh Hukmani, Mangeshkar’s legacy is unequivocal, “I will always admire Lataji for breaking the glass ceiling globally, not only as a supremely gifted singer but also holding the Guinness world record for recording 50,000 songs in 14 languages! This had inspired me hugely! This year, I won my gold disc world record as the first artist in the world to hold nine number 1 singles on the European Indie Top 100 in 2021, I would like to dedicate this first baby step to her omnipresent greatness.”
Even as the whole world united in their grief, Lata Mangeshkar’s songs that span 1942 to 2022 have brought caste, creed, religion, country and people together. It’s something that at least February 6 will be revered for – when music brought unity amongst all.