Swarnalatha was a playback singer who worked primarily in Tamil films but also lent her voice to films of other languages including Kannada, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam, Urdu, Bengali, Oriya and Punjabi.
She was born in Palakkad, Kerala in 1973 and grew up in Bhadravathi. Her interest in music came from her father who sang and played the harmonium. She took up music lessons in singing and in playing the harmonium and keyboard. Her career in music took off when she moved to Chennai in 1987 and got a chance to sing for composer M.S. Viswanathan for the film “Neethikku Dhandanai”. Word about her melodious voice and versatility spread and she was flooded with offers from all the major music directors of the time including Deva, Vidyasagar, Ilaiyaraaja and A.R. Rahman.
Swarnalatha won the National Award for Best Female Playback Singer in the year 1994 for the A. R. Rahman song “Porale Ponnuthayi” (“Karuthamma”). She also won several other awards including Tamil Nadu State Film Awards.
Some of her popular songs include “Povoma Oorgolam” (“Chinna Thambi”, 1991), “Raakamma Kaiyya Thattu” (“Thalapathi”, 1991), “Usilambatti” (“Gentleman”, 1993), “Mukkala Mukabala” (“Kadhalan”, 1994) and “Evano Oruvan” (“Alaipayuthey”, 2007). In Hindi, Swarnalatha was best known for her duet with Hariharan “Hai Rama Yeh Kya Hua” (“Rangeela”, 1995).
In the last year of her life Swarnalatha battled with a lung infection and passed away on 12 September, 2010 when she was only 37 years old.