Early life and backgroundAlka Yagnik was born in Kolkata on 20 March 1966. Her mother Shubha Yagnik was a singer of Indian classical music. She received her school education from Modern High School for Girls. In 1972 at the age of 6, she started singing for Akashvani (All India Radio), Calcutta. At age 10, her mother brought her to Mumbai as a child singer. She was advised to wait until her voice matured, but her mother remained determined. On a subsequent visit, Alka got a letter of introduction to Raj Kapoor from his Kolkata distributor. Kapoor heard the girl and sent her with a letter to noted music director Laxmikant. Impressed, Laxmikant gave her two alternatives – an immediate start as a dubbing artist or a later break as a singer;they settled for the latter.CareerAlka Yagnik is classically trained. She began singing bhajans for Akashvani (All India Radio), Calcutta. at the age of six. Her first song was for the film Payal Ki Jhankaar in (1980), followed by Laawaris (1981) with the song "Mere Angane Mein", followed by the film Hamari Bahu Alka (1982). She got her big break with the song "Ek Do Teen" from the film Tezaab (1988). The song won her a Filmfare Best Female Playback Award.She has sung in many languages other than Urdu-Hindi, including Gujarati, Avadhi, Oriya, Assamese, Manipuri, Nepali, Rajasthani, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, English and Malayalam.She has worked with Indian composers such as Kalyanji-Anandji, Rahul Dev Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Rajesh Roshan, Nadeem-Shravan, Jatin Lalit, Anu Malik, A. R. Rahman, Anand-Milind, Himesh Reshammiya, Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy, Ismail Darbar, Aadesh Shrivastava, Viju Shah, M. M. Keeravani, Sajid-Wajid, Bappi Lahiri, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Sandesh Shandilya and many others.In a career spanning three decades she has sung many duet songs, most of these have been with Udit Narayan and Kumar Sanu. She has also sung many duets with Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Sonu Nigam, Vinod Rathod & Shaan.She has also sung in many albums such as "Tum Yaad Aaye", as well as "Tum Aaye" and "Shairana" in which she worked in close collaboration with award-winning lyricist Javed Akhtar and singer Hariharan. She has also rendered the Hanuman Chalisa and various devotional songs.Alka shares the title with Asha Bhosle for the greatest number of Filmfare Awards won (7) by a single female playback singer. Alka has also been the judge of various Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge shows, and Star Voice of India, both singing competition shows, in which children or adults of various age groups compete with one another to win the award for best vocals. In addition to this, her song "Chamma Chamma" from China Gate was featured in the song "Hindi Sad Diamonds" from the soundtrack of the film Moulin Rouge!. She has also been performing in live concerts around the world.In 2012 she along with Sonu Nigam sang a song 'Shiksha Ka Suraj' as part of National Literacy Mission of India for which she was felicitated by Union Minister For Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal. Further in 2012, on occasion of 100 years of Hindi Cinema, her song "Taal Se Taal Mila" from the movie Taal was voted as the best song of the century in a poll conducted by DesiMartini, Hindustan Times and Fever 104. Also her song "Choli Ke Peeche" from the movie Khalnayak was voted as the hottest song of the century in a poll conducted by Sanona. She has also been involved in various projects pertaining to empowerment of the girl child.Significant collaborationsLaxmikant-PyarelalComposers Laxmikant-Pyarelal have created several musical songs with her in movies such as Tezaab, Hum, Khalnayak, Khuda Gawah, Agneepath and many others.Nadeem-ShravanAlka Yagnik's significant collaborations with Nadeem-Shravan over the years in movies such as Saajan (1991),Phool Aur Kaante (1991), Deewana (1992), Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993), Dilwale (1994), Raja (1995), Barsaat (1995), Jeet (1996), Raja Hindustani (1996), Pardes (1997), Sirf Tum (1999), Dhadkan (2000), Kasoor (2001), Raaz (2002), Andaaz (2003), Dil Hai Tumhaara (2003), etc. She has been their lead female singer throughout their career.Jatin LalitAlka Yagnik has often collaborated with Jatin Lalit in popular movies such as Khiladi,Fareb,Ghulam, Khamoshi: The Musical, Sarfarosh, Yes Boss, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai,Dil Kya Kare, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham..., Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, Chalte Chalte, Hum Tum.Anu MalikAlka's collaborations with Anu Malik over the years has yielded several songs in films such as Baazigar, Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayee, Imtihaan, Refugee, Vijaypath, Main Khiladi Tu Anari, Akele Hum Akele Tum, Duplicate, Soldier, Aarzoo, Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega, Asoka, Umrao Jaan, Fiza, Josh, Ishq Vishk, LOC Kargil.A. R. RahmanAlka's collaborations with A. R. Rahman in movies such as Taal, Lagaan, Zubeidaa, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Swades, Yuvvraaj, Ada... A Way of Life, Slumdog Millionaire are critically acclaimed.Rajesh RoshanAlka has created popular scores with Rajesh Roshan in films such as Karan Arjun, Sabse Bada Khiladi, Koyla,Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, Koi... Mil Gaya, Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage, Krrish .Anand-MilindAlka has worked in several films with Anand-Milind notably Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Anjaam, Anari, Suhaag, Coolie No.1, Army, Lootere, Loafer, Jaan, Hero No. 1, Sanam, Mrityudand, Chal Mere Bhai & Jaanwar.Himesh ReshammiyaAlka gave Himesh Reshammiya his first break in the movie Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya. Thereafter the duo has worked together creating popular scores in several movies such as Hello Brother, Kahin Pyaar Na Ho Jaaye, Humraaz, Chura Liyaa Hai Tumne, Tere Naam, Bardaasht, Aitraaz, Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya, Kyon Ki, Banaras, 36 China Town, Milenge Milenge, etc.Shankar-Ehsaan-LoyAlka's collaboration with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy in notable films such as Dil Chahta Hai, Mission Kashmir, Armaan, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Lakshya & Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.Awards and nominationsAlka Yagnik has won several prestigious music awards for best female playback such as Filmfare Awards, National Awards, Bollywood Movie Awards, IIFA Awards, Star Screen Awards,Zee Cine Awards, etc. She also holds the record for most awards won (7) as well as maximum nominations (35) for Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer. Further in 2012, on occasion of 100 years of Hindi Cinema, her song "Taal Se Taal Mila" from the movie Taal was voted as the best song of the century in a poll conducted by DesiMartini, Hindustan Times and Fever 104. Also her song "Choli Ke Peeche" from the movie Khalnayak was voted as the hottest song of the century in a poll conducted by Sanona.