5 Female Pop Stars With Surprisingly Indian Roots

14/01/2016 8:31 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Illustration concert and vintage microphone

From Lata Mangeshkar and K S Chithra, to Sunidhi Chauhan and dozens of others, India is not short of female singing sensations who have achieved international recognition and won admirers across an array of cultures.

But while their Indian identities are visible in plain sight, there are still others who have India running through their bloodstream even though they call other lands their own.

Here are five female celebrities who have openly embraced their Indian roots, and are more than happy to let you know that they are proud of this part of their heritage.

nicki minaj

Nicki Minaj

Labelled as the first female artist to have ever made the MTV Hottest MC List, and the first female solo artist to have seven singles simultaneously on the U.S. Billboard hot 100 charts, Nicky Minaj is arguably one of the most famous pop singers of this generation.

She was born on 8 December 1982 in the twin Island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and christened Onika Yanya Maraj. Her mother was Afro-Trinidadian, and her father Robert Maraj was an Indo-Trinidadian whose ancestors came to the Caribbean from India as indentured servants.

As many Caribbean residents have done, she moved to Queens, New York, at an early age, and quickly became adapted to American pop culture.

Several years later, after making an impact on the New York music landscape, she modified her last name from Maraj to Minaj. She still speaks fondly of her father's chicken curry, though!

Considered by some as the most influential female rapper of all time, she has received 10 Grammy nominations to date, in addition to several other prestigious musical accolades.

Diana King

Another Billboard hit maker, Diana King gained international fame after releasing the hit single "Shy Guy" on the Sony Music Label in 2005, topping the charts in the US, UK, Finland and Sweden.

Her song was also famously the official sound track of the Hollywood hit movie Bad Boys, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

Her second album "Think Like a Girl" also entered the Billboard top 100 at number 1, thus earning her a solid place in the annals of international music.

A Jamaican by birth, King was fathered by an Afro-Jamaican father, and a Jamaican mother of Indian descent.

In 1999, she made a five-city tour of India. While in Goa, she was spoke of her roots, saying, "I never thought I would come back to India." .

norah jones oscars

Norah Jones

Born Geetali Norah Jones Shankar, this nine-time Grammy-winning singer and actress dropped the first part of her given name, presumably to fit better into the American music scene.

The daughter of the late sitar virtuoso Pandit Ravi Shankar, and American mother Sue Jones, she grew up in Brooklyn, New York (before living in Texas) and was well intertwined in both Indian and American culture.

By the time she was 16, her parents were long separated, and they agreed to let her change her name to a simple Norah Jones.

In 1999, she moved back to New York, and by 2001 she was an international star.

She has since sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, and has been named by Billboard as the top jazz artiste of the decade (2000 to 2009).

Tatyana Ali

At 36 years of age, Tatyana Ali has made a name for herself on the international music scene, and even on the screens of Hollywood daytime TV.

Popularly known as Roxanne in the long-running soap The Young and the Restless, and as Ashley Banks in the TV sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Ali is another Billboard chart buster with Indian roots.

Born to an Afro-Panamanian mother, and police detective Sheriff Ali, a Trinidadian man of Indian origin, Tatyana famously travelled across the United States as one of Barak Obama's 2008 campaign spokespersons.

She has appeared in several Hollywood mainstream films, including playing the role of Lilieana in Nora's Hair Salon 2, and as Jessie in Hotel California.

Samantha Jade

X-Factor beauty Samantha Jade is a relatively new talent, but her fame as the writer of the hit single "Secret Love" that was performed by JoJo on the Shark Tale movie soundtrack was just what Sony Music had needed to sign her on to their label. This Australian star's father Kevin Gibbs is an Anglo-Indian and she has repeatedly identified herself in interviews as a person of Indian heritage.

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