A ghost singer is a professional singer who dubs the singing parts officially credited, or billed, to another person, usually the star or co-star of a musical or film, especially those whose specialty is dancing, acting or for non-musical performers such as celebrities cast in musicals.
In classic Hollywood films the studios normally held back the fact that famous actors and actresses did not sing their own parts. This was especially true for the film versions of stage musicals that were written with professional musical singers in mind—with demands which most actors without excellent singing abilities and years of voice training could not fulfill. This is why even in the published soundtracks of many of these film musicals, the actors were credited for the voices rather than the ghost singers.
Differently from Hollywood, in the Indian film industry, playback singers are recognized as important contributors and mentioned in the film credits. Top singers like legend Lata Mangeshkar—the 'queen' of Bollywood music—become sometimes stars in their own right. The most famous singers like Mangeshkar, K. J. Yesudas, Asha Bhosle, Alka Yagnik, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, S. Janaki, P. Susheela, K. S. Chithra, Sujatha, Udit Narayan or Shreya Ghoshal often voice songs for hundreds of films during their careers. The Filmfare Awards, the most prestigious awards of the Indian film industry, also recognize the best male and female playback singers every year.
Known ghost singers include:
Lata Mangeshkar (
Mohammed Rafi was an Indian playback singer. He is considered as one of the greatest and most influential singers of the Indian subcontinent. Rafi was notable for his voice, versatility and range; his songs were varied from fast peppy numbers to patriotic songs, sad numbers to highly romantic songs, qawwalis to ghazals and bhajans to classical songs. He was known for his ability to mould his voice to the persona and style of an actor, lip-syncing the song on screen in the movie. He received six Filmfare Awards and one National Film Award. In 1967, he was honoured with the Padma Shri award by the Government of India. In 2001, Rafi was honoured with the "Best Singer of the Millennium" title by Hero Honda and Stardust magazine. In 2013, Rafi was voted for the Greatest Voice in Hindi Cinema in the CNN-IBN's poll.
Margaret Nixon McEathron, known professionally as Marni Nixon, was an American soprano and ghost singer for featured actresses in movie musicals. She is now recognized as the singing voice of leading actresses on the soundtracks of several musicals, including Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, although her roles were concealed from audiences when the films were released.
A playback singer is a singer whose singing is pre-recorded for use in movies. Playback singers record songs for soundtracks, and actors or actresses lip-sync the songs for cameras; the actual singer does not appear on the screen.
Alka Yagnik is an Indian playback singer. She is noted in Indian cinema for a career spanning over three decades. She holds a record of being the only nominee in the category of Female Playback Singer, as in the year 1994 she had three solo nominations and the fourth one was with Ila Arun. She is a record seven-time winner from a record of 36 nominations of the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer, a two-time recipient of the National Film Award as well as several other music awards and honours listed below. Further, as many as twenty of her tracks feature in BBC's "Top 40 Bollywood Soundtracks of all time" review. She is one of prolific female playback singer who has sung maximum number of female solos in her Bollywood career. She is ranked No. 1 in the YouTube's Music Charts & Insights list of top global artists as of 12 March 2020. She has been on the chart for 182 weeks with 348 million views.
Mary Margaret Wood was an American actress of stage, film, and television. She is best remembered for her performance as the title character in the CBS television series Mama (1949–1957), for which she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series; her starring role as Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law, in The Story of Ruth (1960); and her final screen appearance as Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music (1965), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award.
Mukesh Chand Mathur, better known mononymously as Mukesh, was an Indian playback singer. Mukesh is considered to be one of the most popular and acclaimed playback singers of the Hindi film industry. Amongst the numerous nominations and awards he won, his song "Kai Baar Yuhi Dekha Hai" from the film Rajnigandha (1973) won him the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer. He was one of the best singers of his era.
Kedarnath Bhattacharaya, better known as Kumar Sanu, is a leading Bollywood Indian playback singer. He is famous for singing thousands of Bollywood songs.
Torch Song is a 1953 American Technicolor musical drama film distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and starring Joan Crawford and Michael Wilding in a story about a Broadway star and her rehearsal pianist. The screenplay by John Michael Hayes and Jan Lustig was based upon the story "Why Should I Cry?" by I.A.R. Wylie in a 1949 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. The film was directed by Charles Walters and produced by Sidney Franklin, Henry Berman and Charles Schnee. Crawford's singing voice was dubbed by India Adams.
Kavita Krishnamurthy Subramaniam, is an Indian film playback singer, trained in classical music. She has recorder more than 25,000 songs in Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, English, Urdu, Tamil, Malayalam, Gujarati, Nepali, Bengali, Assamese, Konkani, Odiya and other languages. She is the recipient of four Filmfare Best Female Playback Singer Awards, and the Padmashri which she received in 2005. In 1999, she married violinist L. Subramaniam and resides in Bengaluru.
The King and I is a 1956 American musical film made by 20th Century-Fox, directed by Walter Lang and produced by Charles Brackett and Darryl F. Zanuck. The screenplay by Ernest Lehman is based on the 1951 Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical The King and I, based in turn on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon. That novel in turn was based on memoirs written by Anna Leonowens, who became school teacher to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. Leonowens' stories were autobiographical, although various elements of them have been called into question. The film stars Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner.
Karthik is an Indian playback singer. Karthik started his professional career as a backing vocalist and has since been working as a playback singer. He has sung in multiple languages including Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Odia, Bengali and Hindi. The Amrita Film Awards honoured Karthik for his versatility in the industry which gave him opportunity to sing a variety of songs.
West Side Story is the soundtrack to the 1961 film West Side Story. Released in 1961, the soundtrack spent 54 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's album charts, giving it the longest run at No. 1 of any album in history, although some lists instead credit Michael Jackson's Thriller, on the grounds that West Side Story was listed on a chart for stereo albums only at a time when many albums were recorded in mono. In 1962, it won a Grammy award for "Best Sound Track Album – Original Cast." In the United States, it was the best-selling album of the 1960s, certifying three times platinum by the RIAA on November 21, 1986.
Katherine Joan Greer, known professionally as Jo Ann Greer, was an American singer.
Sripathi Panditaradhyula Balasubrahmanyam mostly referred to as S. P. B. or Balu is an Indian playback singer, music director, actor, dubbing artist and film producer who works predominantly in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam. He has recorded over 40000 songs in 16 Indian languages. He has garnered six National Film Awards for Best Male Playback Singer for his works in four different languages; Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Hindi; twenty five Andhra Pradesh state Nandi Awards for his works towards Telugu cinema, numerous other state awards from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In addition, he garnered the Bollywood Filmfare Award, and six Filmfare Awards South. In 2012, he received the state NTR National Award for his contributions to Indian cinema. In 2016, He was honored with the Indian Film Personality of the Year consisting of a Silver Peacock Medal. He is a recipient of civilian awards such as Padma Shri (2001) and Padma Bhushan (2011) from the Government of India.
India Adams was an American singer, known as the ghost singer who dubbed the singing voices of Cyd Charisse and Joan Crawford in the mid-1950s.
"An Affair to Remember " is a 1957 romantic song which was composed by Harry Warren for the 1957 film An Affair to Remember. Lyrics were by Leo McCarey and Harold Adamson. The song is sung by Vic Damone during the film's opening credits and then sung later by Deborah Kerr's character, Terry McKay, a nightclub singer-turned-music teacher. Kerr's singing was dubbed by Marni Nixon, who also dubbed for Kerr in the film The King and I.
"Honor to Us All" is a song written by composer Matthew Wilder and lyricist David Zippel for Walt Disney Pictures' 36th animated feature film Mulan (1998). Recorded by singers Beth Fowler, Marni Nixon and Lea Salonga, the latter two of whom provide the singing voices of Grandmother Fa and Fa Mulan, respectively, the song is a character number performed by several older Chinese women and female members of Mulan's family as they prepare the main character to be evaluated by the Matchmaker in the scene towards the beginning of the film.
Annette Warren is a popular jazz and song stylist best known for her vocal dubbing of such stars as Ava Gardner in the 1951 version of Show Boat. and Lucille Ball in both Fancy Pants and Sorrowful Jones and is still actively performing in 2017 at the age of 95.
Simon Gilbert is an English actor and tenor. At the age of twenty one he took singing lessons with the teachers of the Australian soprano Joan Sutherland. Gilbert gradually gravitated towards Opera and The Edinburgh Festival, where sang with Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti. In 1967, he sang with Scottish Opera, for example appearing in L'anima del filosofo. Joining The Adelphi Theatre's company for the musical Show Boat, he played lead man to the show's star, Cleo Laine.