Lata Mangeshkar: first Indian to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1974
Lata Mangeshkar, known as the Nightingale of India, holds the distinction of being the first Indian artist to perform live at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall.
The legendary singer, who died aged 92 in Mumbai on Sunday, chose the British venue for her international debut in 1974, where she performed some of her most beloved tunes in front of large audiences.
“It’s my first concert outside India. I was quite nervous, but I’m grateful for the warm welcome,” she said in her brief speech in Hindi.
During the show, she shared her memories of singing with her Bollywood contemporaries, such as Kishore Kumar and Hemant Kumar, and performing with top musicians, such as SD Burman and Naushad. She displayed a quirky sense of humor as she shared anecdotes with the audience.
The sold-out concert was hosted by actor Dilip Kumar, whom she referred to as her brother “Yusuf Bhai”.
“Just as the fragrance of a flower has no color, just as flowing water or the breeze has no boundaries, and just as the rays of the sun have no religious division, the voice by Lata Mangeshkar is such a miracle of nature,” Kumar, or Yusuf Khan, said in his famous Urdu introductory speech, before encouraging the audience to welcome the singer to the stage with resounding applause.
The concert, which remains one of the few performances of the late singer with a live orchestra, was organized to benefit the Nehru Memorial Fund, established to provide scholarships in memory of India’s first Prime Minister. The show covered Mangeshkar’s biggest Bollywood hits over the decades, including “Aaja Re Pardesi” from “Madhumati”, “Inhin Logon Ne” from “Pakeezah” and “Aayega Aanewala” from “Mahal”. The recording of the live show, consisting of two long-playing record (LP) volumes, sold over 133,000 copies. The Royal Albert Hall, opened in 1871 by Queen Victoria in memory of her late husband, Prince Albert, is one of the UK’s premier concert halls and has hosted world-renowned artists over the years. It is part of the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens in central London and also hosts major sporting events and award ceremonies. ”The world’s leading figures in music, dance, sport and politics have appeared on our stage since we opened in 1871, and now over 1.7 million people enjoy live experiences here every year. , along with millions more who experience our events through broadcasts, recordings and new media channels,” according to the Royal Albert Hall website.
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