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Shamshad Begum

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Shamshad Begum (born April 14, 1919) is an Indian singer who was one of the first playback singers in the Hindi film industry.
Begum was born in Amritsar, Punjab. She was a big fan of K.L. Saigal and watched Devdas 14 times. She earned 15 rupees per song and was awarded 5,000 on the completion of the contract on Xenophone, a renowned music recording company.

Begum made her debut on radio on Peshawar Radio in Lahore on December 16, 1937, captivating the hearts of her listeners with the enchanting depth of her voice. Shamshad was very much conscious of her not so beautiful face and she never posed for any pictures and not many people saw her pictures anywhere. Until the end of the 1970s, nobody knew her face at all, though everybody could recognise her melodious voice as it was used by the great maestros like Naushad Ali and O. P. Nayyar. Even today, her songs from the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s are popular and continue to be remixed by music directors.

Begum sang for the All India Radio (AIR) through her musical group ‘The Crown Imperial Theatrical Company of Performing Arts’, set up in Delhi. The then AIR Lahore helped her entering the world of movies as they frequently broadcast her songs, which induced music directors to use her voice for their films. Shamshad also recorded naats and devotional music for a couple of gramophone recording companies.

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