Widely considered the greatest of all Bollywood playback singers, the exceptionally versatile vocalist has sung in more than 950 movies over an astounding six-decade career. She makes a rare T.O. appearance with Khailesh Kher, Sonu Nigaam and Kunal Ganjawala at the Rogers Centre (1 Blue Jays Way) Sunday (May 20). $25-$100. 416-872-1111.
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
My mother told me it's better to be a short tree than a tall coconut tree. Meaning, what's the use of being tall like a coconut tree when you can't give shade to the weary? It's better to be short so you can provide shade to those who wish to rest under you. Be humble, caring and charitable.
What's the craziest rumour you've ever heard about yourself?
Recently there was a train mishap in India, and it was announced on the national news that I was on the train and was grievously injured, even dead!
What was your most memorable performance?
I recall being very ill a couple of times during performances. Once, appearing in Stockholm a few years ago, I could hardly speak - let alone sing. I walked onstage to apologize to the audience and cancel the show, but when I got out there I received a standing ovation. I felt a surge of energy and remembered my late father. I don't know what happened, but I gave one of the best performances of my life.
Of the more than 12,000 songs you've recorded, which one provided you with the greatest challenge?
Each song is a challenge when I'm recording it, but perhaps none more than Daiya Yeh Main Kahan Phasi, from the film Caravan. When I look back today, I can't believe I did that song in a single take, without a break. It was recorded live in the studio.
If you'd never gotten involved in music, how would you be making a living today?
I would've become a chef. Restaurants with my recipes are opening all over the world. There are outlets in the Middle East, the UK and very soon in North America as well. They're called Asha's. Enjoy!