16 Most Famous Indian Folk Singers of All Time

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Most Famous Indian Folk Singers

We all love music but everyone has their own choice that they listen to. Music has the power to speak to all of us in a completely different way. 

And in Bollywood music, there are not many songs that sound new, fresh, and unique. 

There are only a few songs that don’t sound like a typical Bollywood song and that folk music. Folk music is growing in Bollywood for a couple of years. 

Folk music reminds us of the culture that we hold so close to our hearts.

Folk songs have a profound meaning to their words and have the ability to connect to your spirit through the tune. In the ongoing past, Bollywood has seen various folk singers who, with their amazing voice and music, have won the hearts of many.

Here are some of our country’s most renowned folk singers who lent their soulful voices and honored Bollywood with it:

1. Ila Arun

Ila Arun

Ila Arun’s name is probably the first one to pop up in anyone’s head when folk music in Bollywood is being discussed. 

Basically from Jaipur, Rajasthan, she is a popular Indian actress, TV personality and a Rajasthani folk-pop singer with a unique, husky voice and a penchant for folk-pop fusion.

Ila Arun has been the voice behind many chartbuster songs. Among her great accolades lies Ringa Ringa from Slumdog Millionaire’s Oscar-winning album.

Her popular songs include Choli ke piche kya hai?, Morni Baga ma bole with Lata Mangeshkar.

2. Nooran Sisters

Nooran Sisters

Nooran sisters are the granddaughters of the late Bibi Nooran, a famous Sufi singer of the 70s. They learned folk music from their father Ustad Gulshan Mir, son of the well-known Ustad Sohan Lal. He performs with them in concerts.

The sisters were spotted on the TV Show ‘Nikki Awaz Punjab Di’ and soon they became famous and got the chance to performance Sufi music in India as well as all around the world.

In 2012, The Nooran Sisters highlighted on the song ‘Allah Hoo’ on Coke Studio, which led them to sing a song (Ptakha Guddi) for A.R. Rahman in “Highway” in 2014 which exploded them in Bollywood. 

Situated in Jalandhar, the Nooran Sisters keep on developing in popularity with their conventional Sufi songs that are inspired by the mystical and legendary folk tales.

3. The Wadali Brothers

Wadali Brothers

The Wadali Brothers (Puranchand Wadali and Pyarelal Wadali) were a Sufi singing duo from Guru Ki Wadali in the Amritsar District in Punjab, India. 

The Wadali Brothers sing in the Gurbani, Kafi, ghazal and bhajan genres. Puran Chand Wadali and Pyarelal Wadali have the power to move your soul with their powerful voices. 

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Puran Chand studied music from celebrated masters like Pandit Durga Das and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan of the Patiala Gharana. 

Pyarelal was trained by his elder brother, who he considered his guru and mentor up till his death (2018 due to a cardiac arrest).

Apart from mesmerizing the audience with their folk songs, the duo has lent their voices to songs from Pinjar and Tanu Weds Manu in Bollywood.

4. Malini Awasthi

Malini Awasthi

Born in Kannouj UP, she is an Indian singer and musician who sings not only in Hindi, but also in Awadhi, Buldenkhandi, and Bhojpuri. She is also a  popular A-Grade artist of All India Radio.

She has also performed on Hindustani Classical music concerts not just in India but abroad as well. 

She has performed at Pravasi Diwas at Trinidad, Festival of India in Mauritius, and Cultural Performance in South Bank center, London among others.

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She is one of those singers who has also performed in Pakistan as well. She has been honored with the Padam Shri for her contribution to folk music and Yash Bharti UP Government award among others.

She has also sung songs for Bollywood films like Chaarfutiya Chhokare, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, and Agent Vinod among others.

5. Dipali Borthakur

Dipali Borthakur

known as the “Nightingale of Assam” Dipali Borthakur was an Indian singer from Assam. 

Most of her songs were sung in the Assamese language. She was a recipient of the fourth-highest civilian award of India, the Padma Shri, in the year 1998.

She entered the Assamese folk music field at the early age of 9. 

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When she was studying in class nine, in 1958, she sang the song “Mor Bopai Lahori” on All India Radio, Guwahati, and the song “Joubone Amoni Kore Chenaidhon” for the film Lachit Borphukan (1959).

Some of her other popular Assamese songs are: “Sonor Kharu Nalage Muk”, “Joubone Aamoni Kore, Chenaidhon”, “Jundhone Junalite”, “Konmana Boroxire Sip”, “Senai Moi Jau Dei”, “O’ Bondhu Somoi Pale Amar Phale”.

6Kollangudi Karuppayee

Kollangudi Karuppayee

Kollangudi Karuppayee is a Tamil folk singer who has also performed in films. She is considered one of the pioneers of Tamil folk music; as the first of her genre and background to perform in films, she served as an inspiration for many other folk artists. 

She started her career as a performer on All India Radio about thirty years before her foray into films. 

She is a recipient of the prestigious Kalaimamani award for her contributions to music. 

Due to her tragic personal life, she became mentally weak.

7. Papon


Papon is an Indian singer, producer, and composer from Assam.  His real name is Angararg Mahanta. 

He is the lead singer of the folk-fusion band called Papon and also owns his company named as East India company.

Papon has an incredible love for Folk Music. Papon contributed heavily to Indian folk-fusion before he entered Bollywood and mesmerized everyone with his soulful voice. 

Various hit songs go to his credit some of which include Moh Moh Ke Dhage (Dum Laga Ke Haisha), Labon ka Karobar (Befikre), and Jiyen Kyun (Dum Maro Dum).

Apart from his contribution to Bollywood, Papon has also appeared on  MTV coke unplugged and has performed with many international artists on international tours including a paleo music festival in Switzerland, Jakarta international java jazz festival, and the mosaic music festival in Singapore.

8. Kalpana Patowary

Kalpana Patowary

Basically, from Assam, Kalpana Patowary learned music from the legendary singer Ustad Gulam Mustafa Khan. Her singing is heavily influenced by the bard of Brahmaputra Bhupen Hazarika. 

She has sung in more than 30 languages. She came into fame in 2008 when she participated in the reality show Junoon – Kuchh Kar Dikhaane Ka, which was aired on NDTV Imagine. 

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Although Kalpana is mostly known for her folk songs, she has also sung several songs in numerous Bhojpuri and Bollywood films, as well as in Marathi, Tamil, Bengali and Assamese films. 

Few of the most notable Bollywood films that she has sung for include Fool & Final (2007), Billu (2009), Khatta Meetha (2010), and Begum Jaan (2017).

9. Rabbi Shergill

Rabbi Shergill

Rabbi Shergill is an Indian musician and singer who is known primarily for his debut album Rabbi (2004) and the chartbuster song of 2005, ‘Bulla ki Jaana’. 

He has a very different approach towards music. As a result, his music is described as rock, pop, Punjabi with a bani style melody, Sufiaana, semi-Sufi and semi-folksy kind of music with a heavy dose of western influence on it.

Rabbi has also been described as ‘Punjabi Music’s Urban Balladeer’. While he has given life to many Bollywood songs, his most popular one remains to be Challa from Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

10. Sartaj Khan and Sarwar Khan

Sartaj Khan and Sarwar Khan

Sarwar Khan and Sartaj Khan belong to a tiny village near Jaisalmer. They are two of the youngest boys to have earned a position in Rajasthani folk singing.  

Sarwar Khan is a 12-year-old boy while Sartaj Khan is only 11 years old. 

They started their journey by singing in a reality show and slowly achieved recognition. The boys gained fame when they sang for a popular Bollywood film, “Dangal”. 

The duo had sung the song “Hannikarark Bapu” for which they have received immense appreciation.

Two were already pretty well-known folk singers, but their fame expanded exponentially following their tryst with Bollywood.

11. Mame Khan

Mame Khan

Mame Khan is a Rajasthani folk singer famous for his live performances and also sings for Bollywood. 

Awarded for his unique compositions and loved for his colorful persona – Mame Khan is The Folk Star of Rajasthan.

He has taken an ancient musical legacy from the golden Thar Desert to the screens of Bollywood. Rajasthan’s Folk music earned global recognition through the voice of Mame Khan.

From ‘No One Killed Jessica’ to ‘Luck By Chance’ and most recently ‘Mirzya’, Mame Khan has given his voice to Bollywood time and again.

12. Swaroop Khan

Swaroop Khan

Swaroop Khan is also a Rajasthani Folk Singer who came into prominence after becoming one of the top 10 contestants in a season of Indian Idol. He has since given his voice to a number of hits in Bollywood. 

The famous Ghoomar song from Padmaavat was his most recent contribution, while his past performances include those in Mukkabaaz, Dhanak, Filmistaan, and PK.

His familiarity with the audience must’ve begun with reality TV but he never stopped contributing to the world of Rajasthani folk music. 

As far as his collaboration with Bollywood goes, his biggest hit has been ‘Tharki Chokro’ from PK.  “Bahut Hua Samman” from the movie Mukkabaaz, and the title track of the movie Emotional Atyachar.

13. Parvathy Baul

Parvathy Baul

Parvathy Baul is a performer, teacher, and practitioner of the Baul tradition that originates from Bengal, India. 

She is also an instrumentalist, storyteller, and painter who is currently settled in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. 

She has been trained under Baul gurus like Sanatan Das Baul, Shashanko Goshai Baul from Bengal.

Parvathy has performed Baul music in over forty countries, including such prestigious concert halls and music festivals as the Noh Theater in Kyoto, the World Music Center in New York City, and the Festival of World Sacred Music in Fez, Morocco.

Parvathy Baul was recently featured in two Bengali films, Teenkahon (2014) where she sang and wrote the lyrics, and Arshinagar (2015) in which she made a special appearance.

14. Rajnigandha Shekhawat

Rajnigandha Shekhawat

Belonging to the traditional and reputed family of Malsisar, Shekhawati in Rajasthan, Rajnigandha has spent her childhood in Jaipur. 

She is classically trained from Bhatkhande University and has also won Rajasthan Sangeet Ratna.

A folk – Sufi – rock singer from Rajasthan, Rajnigandha has sung three playbacks for Hindi movies (Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Margarita with A straw, and Monsoon). 

She has performed in over 400 concerts worldwide. She has released 3 albums with Times Music and a Punjabi single video. 

She has also sung various like Fanta for Amit Trivedi, Rajasthan Tourism for Sameeruddin and Rajat Dholakia, Jabong Diwali ad for Shubo, and sung for TVF’s Tripling web series soundtrack.

Her mashup of the song Cheap Thrills with Rajasthani Ghoomar became viral immediately after its release.

15. Sharda Sinha

Sharda Sinha

Originally from Mithila region of Bihar, she is a popular folk singer of Bihar and known as “Bihar Kokila” and is famous for Chhath geet and Bhojpuri songs. 

She has been honored with Padma Shree for her contribution to folk music. 

Her songs are a class apart, Melodious, simple in tunes, and would touch different aspects of life. 

Sharda Sinha gave her voice to a few Hindi movies also and one of her songs in the movie ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ became very famous. 

She has also produced several successful music albums such as Dulhin, Pirittiya, Mehndi, etc. She has been a regular performer during various festivities.

Some of her famous songs includes ‘Paniya ke jahaj se paltaniya bani ahiya piya lele ahiya ho sindurwa Bengal Ke,’ ‘Kahe to se sajani hamaar jogiya,’ ‘sutal chaliya baba ke bhawanwa,’ ‘sun ho pardesia,’ ‘sasuji se lutri,’ ‘Apna sajaniya ke’ and ‘Dulhin dhire dhire chalio,’.

16. Lopamudra Mitra

Lopamudra Mitra

She is a Kolkata-based prominent Rabindra Sangeet and modern Bengali singer and songwriter. She married Kolkata-based Bengali music director and songwriter Joy Sarkar.

Her song ‘Benimadhab’, was a success and later she lent her voice to songs based on poems. 

She has a long list of discographies which include modern songs, Tagore songs, and other basic albums. 

Lopamudra is famous for singing songs for Bangla films and has won the BFJA Award for the movie Shedin Choitramash (1997). 

Her albums Bhalobaste Balo and Ei Obelaay have won the Anandbazar Patrika Awards and her album Jhor Hote Pari had won the Zee Music award in 2005.

She won many awards for her unique dramatic style of singing, which is fashioned with classical aid and tenor voice quality.

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