Oldest Playback Singer in the World

Oldest Playback Singer in the World

In case you weren’t familiar, a playback singer is someone whose singing is prerecorded to be used in a movie. These types of singers generally record songs for the movie’s soundtrack, and the primary actor or actress lip-syncs when they are on screen. 

Playback singers are commonly featured in South Asian films, though they have been featured in a few Western movies over the years as well. If you’re a movie buff, you’re probably familiar with the fact that some actors simply lipsync when they’re on screen! 

In this article, we will look at some of the oldest playback singers in the world, so let’s get right into it! 

8. Amit Kumar

Date of birth: 3 July 1952
Age: 71
Best known for: Laila o Laila, Sanam Mere Sanam

Amit KumarPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

In addition to being a playback singer, Amit Kumar is also a composer and actor who worked mostly on Bollywood films. He often worked closely with the actor and director R. D. Burman. Kumar is also Kishore Kumar’s son!

In addition to working as a playback singer, he has also released several albums of his own compositions. 

Did you know? 

Amit Kumar sang the Hindi-dubbed title tracks for shows like Bob the Builder and Duck Tales.

7. K. J. Yesudas

Date of birth: 10 January 1940
Age: 83
Best known for: Gori Tera Gaon Bada Pyara Chitchor, Chinna Chinna Poove

K. J. YesudasPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

J Yesudas has had a prolific career as a Malayalam playback singer. Just like many of the other singers on this list, he is widely considered to be one of the best singers in Indian musical history. He is also considered to be one of Kerala’s cultural icons. 

Research has shown that Yesudas has recorded over 50,000 songs throughout the course of his career in numerous languages. These include Russian, Bengali, Latin, and Arabic, as well as several other Indian languages. 

Did you know? 

J. Yesudas has been awarded the 3 civilian honors by the Indian government, namely: the Padma Bhushan, the Padma Vibhushan, and the Padma Shri.

6. L. R. Eswari

Date of birth: 8 December 1939
Age: 84
Best known for: Vaarayo Thozhi, Masaka Masaka Cheekatilo

L. R. EswariPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

R. Eswari was born Lourde-Mary Rajeswari. She has worked primarily in South Indian cinema, singing in languages like Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam. Eswari is mostly well-known for singing upbeat songs in movies, particularly those used for dance sequences and devotion. 

Eswari has also recorded several devotional songs, though it was her dedication to upbeat Kannada songs that made her a household name in Karnataka. She has also sung several duets with P. Susheela and S. Janaki. 

Did you know?

R. Eswari’s song Vaarayo Thozhi is a popular wedding song choice in South India.

5. K. Jamuna Rani

Date of birth: 17 May 1938
Age: 85
Best known for: Jeevana Mea Gamana Sansare

K. Jamuna RaniPhoto Source: Saregama

Jamuna Rani is a lesser-known playback singer who worked primarily in various South Indian languages and Sinhalese. She got her first playback singing job when she was seven years old and was hired for the film Tyagayya. By the time she was a teenager, Rani booked bigger roles as the playback singer for lead characters in various films. 

She went on to sing for various notable composers like S. M. Subbaiah Naidu, M. B. Sreenivasan, and Ilaiyaraaja.

Did you know?

Jamuna Rani won the Arignar Annadurai award in 2002.

4. P. Susheela

Date of birth: 13 November 1935
Age: 88
Best known for: Paal Polave

P. SusheelaPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Susheela has often been called the “evergreen Nightingale of Indian cinema.” Much like her contemporaries Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar, Susheela’s career spans several decades. 

She won her first award at the National Film Awards in 1968, for Best Female Playback Singer, though she had become quite popular in the 1950s. She is best known for her clear and distinct pronunciations and language versatility. Susheela has sung over 17,000 songs throughout career in more than 6 languages. 

Did you know? 

Susheela has won a Guinness World Record for being the person to sing the most songs in Indian languages.

3. Asha Bhosle

Date of birth: 8 September 1933
Age: 90
Best known for: Chain Se Humko Kabhi, Piya Tu Ab To Aaja

Asha BhoslePhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Asha Bhosle is one of India’s most iconic and well-known playback singers. She is widely known for her versatile style of singing and is considered by many to be one of the greatest Indian singers. She comes from the famous Mangeshkar family, whose members are all notable singers in India. Her father was the late Deenanth Mangeshkar, and her sister was Lata Mangeshkar. 

Bhosle’s career began in the 1950s when she began to take on singing roles in B-grade films. She often sang songs that other established singers rejected. As she gained more experience, Bhosle eventually bagged songs in bigger films with better directors and cemented herself as one of India’s most prolific playback singers. 

Did you know?

Asha Bhosle has sung songs in over 20 languages, not including Hindi. She’s also worked in various genres, like ghazals, bhajans, and folk songs.

2. R. Balasaraswathi Devi

Date of birth: 28 August 1928
Age: 95
Best known for: Chenchu Lakshmi, Swapna Sundari

R. Balasaraswathi DeviPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Balasaraswathi Devi is the oldest surviving playback singer in India! She is mainly known for her work in Tamil and Telugu cinema, though she also acted as well. Before she became a singer, Devi was a child actress. She managed to break into the industry after director K. Subramaniam hired her to act in his Tamil films. 

After doing some acting, she made the transition to singing. Devi has worked with several notable composed in South Indian cinema, including G. Govindarajulu Naidu, Ogirala Ramachandra Rao, and S. Hanumantha Rao. 

Did you know? 

Balasaraswathi Devi has sung with A. P. Komala and P. Susheela.

1. Annette Warren

Date of birth: July 11, 1922
Age: 101
Best known for: Sorrowful Jones, Fancy Pants, and Show Boat

Annette WarrenPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Annette Warren is the oldest playback singer in the world. Before breaking into the film industry, Warren worked at various clubs and theaters across the United States and the UK, including the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. 

Her first gig as a playback singer was for the movie Lured, made in 1947. One of her most famous dubbing gigs was when she sang for Lucille Ball in the films Sorrowful Jones and Fancy Pants. However, Warren is probably best known for her work on the film Show Boat, where she was Ava Gardner’s playback singer. 

Did you know?

Annette Warren beat out performers like Lee Wiley and Dinah Shore for the role in Show Boat.


In this article, we took a closer look at some of the oldest playback singers in the world. Many of the artists on this list are from South Asia, where playback singers play a huge role in the film industry. Many of the singers on this list have also had extremely successful musical careers outside of the film industry, and remain some of the most iconic performers in the world today. 

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