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The Boston Globe

Obituaries

Shamshad Begum, longtime singer in India’s films, radio

NEW DELHI — Legendary Indian singer Shamshad Begum has died. She was 94.

The singer had been unwell for some time, her daughter Usha Ratra told the Press Trust of India news agency Wednesday. She died late Tuesday in Mumbai. No independent confirmation was immediately possible.

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Her funeral, held early Wednesday, was attended by close family members and a few friends, Ratra told PTI. The singer had lived with her daughter and son-in-law since her husband’s death in the 1950s.

She began her singing career on radio in 1947, and her clear and pure voice touched the hearts of many listeners. She became one of the Indian movie industry’s first playback singers, with several well-known actresses of her time lip-syncing to her songs. The industry’s best-known music directors vied to get her to sing for them.

She was reclusive and self-conscious about her looks and refused to pose for photographs. Many of her fans saw only what she looked like in the 1970s.

Her songs from the 1950s to the early 1970s are still popular and continue to be remixed by music directors today.

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