Lata Mangeshkar was born in the princely state of Indore, which is now a part of present state of Madhya Pradesh. Her father, Deenanath Mangeshkar was a classical singer and theatre artist. Lata is the oldest of all her siblings. Her music career started as early as the age of five, when she started assisting her father, in his musical plays. Her father passed away when she was merely 13 and then her struggle in the real world began.During the early 1940s, she was mentored by eminent music personalities like Ustad Amanat Ali Khan who gave her the basic training in Hindustani Classical Music, also Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Later she was also mentored by Ghulam Haider Sahab, who not only supported her but gave her a break in his film Majboor (1948) with the song Dil Mera Toda. In her earlier days she was often shunned by critics as thin voiced and was said to replicate the voice of reputed singer Noor Jehan. Her most prominent hit of that decade was Aayega Aanewala (Mahal;1949).
950s was a very lucrative period for Lata Mangeshkar. She managed to bag work with most prominent music directors of those times like S.D Burman, Khayyam, Shankar Jaikishan, Naushad, Hemanta Kumar and Anandji Kalyanji. She sang for epic films Baiju Bawra (1952), Mughal e Azam(1960), Shree420 (1955), Chori Chori(1956), Devdas(1955), Madhumati(1958). Her song Aaja Re Pardesi had become a huge hit that year. Lata Mangeshkar in the 1950s had set herself as quite a name and her popularity just grew in the next decades to come.960s began with hit films for Lata like Mughal e Azam. Her songs Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh and Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil have become evergreen classics. In 1963, Mangeshkar sang Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon in front of Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru which moved him to tears. The song was composed in the context of the Sino Indian War. This was a period of rich collaborations for Lata, as she reunited with S. D. Burman and continued her alliance with music composer Madan Mohan and Laxmikant Pyarelal, belting out popular numbers like Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha (Anpadh 1962), Gata Rahe Mera Dil, Piya Tose and Aaj Phir Jine Ki Tammana Hai (Guide 1965), Tu Jahaa Chalega (Mera Saaya 1966), Hothon Pe Aisi Baat (Jewel Thief 1967), Naina Barse Rim Jhim Rim Jhim and another track Lag Ja Gale (Woh Kaun Thi 1964). She worked with R. D. Burman in Pati Patni (1966), Abhilasha (1969), Bhoot Bangla (1965) and Baharon Ke Sapne (1967). She play backed for Marathi films and for Hemant Kumar and Sahil Chowdhury composed music in many Bengali films.
A fruitful era for Lata, the 70s saw her recording memorable pieces like, Rangeela Re (Prem Pujari 1970), Piya Bina (Abhiman 1973), Inhi Logo Ne and Chalte Chalte (Pakeeza 1972) and Khilte Hain Gul Yahaan (Sharmeelee 1971). She sang in some of the hit movies of the time for R.D. Burman in Caravan (1972), Aandhi (1975), Amar Prem (1972) and Kati Patang (1971). She began performing in concerts in the country as well as internationally. Londons Royal Albert Hall was first to witness Lata performing out of her homeland. And she began working for the second generation music directors; Rajesh Roshan, Anand Milind and Anu Malik by the end of the 1970s.In the 1980s she worked with A.R.Rahman, Shiv Hari and Ram Laxman and collaborated with Jagjit Singh on non filmy songs mostly ghazals. Lata was a priority in Yash Raj Films and sang in almost all its films from Chandini in 1989 to Veer Zaara in 2004. Amidst this there are unforgettable tracks of her for A. R. Rahmans Lukka Chuupi (Rang De Basanti), Ek Tuhi Bharosa (Pukar), Jiya Jale (Dil Se), O Palanhare (Lagaan), Khamoshiyan Gungunane Rahi (One Two Ka Four) and So Gaye Hain (Zubeidaa). She sang in the 2001 film, Lajja whose music was composed by Illyaraja, and Madhur Bhandarkar recorded her voice for his film Page3 and Jail and very recently Heroine. She sang the track Waada Na Thod for the film, Eternal Sunshine in Spotless Mind in 2004 and came out with an album of ghazals, Saadgi (2007), the lyricist being Javed Akhtar.
Lata became a Rajya Sabha member in 1999 and was felicitated with Bharat Ratna in 2001. She has founded a hospital in Pune in her late fathers name.Other than singing for films, she has music directed for some Marathi films under the pseudonym, Anand Ghan and received the Music Director Award from the State Government of Maharashtra. Lata has even produced a Marathi film, Vaadal (1953), and Hindi films like, Lekin (1990), Jhaanjhar (1953) and Kanchan (1950). She launched a perfume brand, Lata Eau De Parfume (1999) and designed a jewellery collection, Swaranjali in 2005.