The legendary singer and most recorded artist in the world (Guinness World Records) passed away on February 6, 2022 at the age of 92. I had the good fortune of meeting her in 1976 and spending several hours one on one with her over a three-day period.
In the summer of 1976, I received a call from Jagatpurusa das from Mumbai. He said that Lata (she told me to call her by her first name) and Mukesh were coming to Houston to perform in a concert and requested if I could arrange daily prasad for her and Mukesh. Lata and Mukesh (and support staff) stayed at the Greenway Plaza Hotel (now a Doubletree) located in an office complex, coincidentally the same complex where I worked. I took this as a great opportunity to provide prasadam to a legend. I brought them lunch for the three days of her stay and also carried along a Fairchild portable projector to show her the latest movies by Yadubara Prabhu.
Lata and Mukesh relished the movies. After the showing, Lata and I had a private conversation. She revealed that all the movie love songs she sings are just her duty but her only real love is bhajans. Lata said it with such conviction and with tears in her kindly eyes. Even though she was one of the most recorded singers in the world, her humility and devotion were striking and palpable. Lata also privately mentioned that Mukesh had little interest or faith in bhajans and I should speak with him. On the following day, Mukesh and I went on a long walk. Later that day, Lata told me that his heart had changed, and he agreed to take up chanting bhajans beginning that very day.
Two weeks later, while on tour in Detroit, Mukesh died of a heart attack. Due to the kindness and concern of Lata he had a change of heart before his untimely death at 53 years.
Lata was a friend of ISKCON and a wonderful Vaishnavi with the voice of a nightingale.
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