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Millions in Kerala as well as outside consider Yesudas God’s Own Voice.
By Prakash Parayath
It has been fifty-five years since Malayalam cinema first witnessed the sensation called Yesudas. A fan takes a walk down memory lane, reminiscing some of the incredible moments from the life and times of ‘God’s own voice’..
One and the only dassettan ദൈവം തന്റെ സ്വന്തം ശബ്ദം നല്കി ഭൂമിയിലേക്കയച്ച.
A tiny schoolboy who grew up in Kerala in the early sixties remembers the spellbinding voice that he used to hear on the radio, whether it was ‘Enthenthu Mohangal’ or ‘Alliyambal’ or ‘Kannuneer muthumayi’.
The boy was too young to define it, but that voice had a magical charm, an ethereal grace.
Later on, he realized that the voice belonged to one Yesudas, whose name frequently came up on the All India Radio, when the singers’ names were announced. Much later, he saw the photograph of the singer, a lean man in his early twenties, clad in pristine white.
A whole generation would identify with what is written above – a “radio-only” era where even the print media rarely featured or published pictures of music personalities. Several subsequent generations will relate to that voice as THE voice that shaped music tastes, at least in Kerala, for over half a century.
Every Keralite listens to, or at least hums to himself, a Yesudas number every day. If the tourism brochures talk about Kerala as ‘God’s Own Country’, millions in Kerala as well as outside consider Yesudas God’s Own Voice.
On 14 November 2016, it turned 55 years since Yesudas, as a 21-year-old, got his first film song recorded in Chennai. The song was “Jathi Bhedam Matha Dwesham” for the film “Kalpadukal” and M.B. Srinivasan was the composer.
After the recording MBS asked the veteran recordist Koteeswara Rao about the new singer’s voice. Rao answered, “I will talk about it after ten years.” Yesudas was worried, but came to know later that Rao only meant that the singer’s voice will flourish even after ten years.
Well, that voice continues to dominate after 55 years, though for the past six years the singer concentrates on Carnatic concerts and sings only selectively for the movies.
Yesudas devotes all his time for “sadhakam”, music research and Carnatic concerts. It thus becomes obvious why you hear a lot of rare, hitherto-unexplored ragas in his concerts today, along with the singer’s nuanced explanation about the swara patterns of each raga.
During a chat with this writer in 1999, Yesudas said, “I put my heart and soul into my singing. The rest is left to God.” That has always been his philosophy. “Music is a vast ocean. Nobody can ever master it. I am still a student of music”, he says.
Yesudas is not one who is reluctant to talk about the hardships he suffered in early life –how he had to borrow eighteen rupees to pay the train fare for his trip to Chennai (then Madras) for his first recording, how an attack of typhoid in Chennai almost cost him his first recording, and about how his family rushed to the neighbour’s house, whenever his early songs were broadcast, since the family did not have a radio then.
Those initial struggles shaped his career which reads like a fairy tale.
As a music student in the 50s, he had applied for a Sangeet Natak Akademi scholarship. But he was denied. About a decade later he became the Chairman of the same institution! In the 50s, All India Radio rejected him in an audition, citing that the voice was not up to the mark.
Eventually that voice emerged as the most frequently broadcast voice in all the Kerala stations of AIR. And the man who had to borrow eighteen rupees for his train trip in 1961 later won the Indian Airlines award for the most frequently travelled air passenger in 1977!
He is the only singer in India who has been actively involved simultaneously in film music and Carnatic music for five decades, dispelling the myth that these are diverse streams that no person can master simultaneously.
A favourite disciple of the legendary Carnatic musician Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar in the 60s, he quickly became a crowd-puller at Carnatic concerts.
But Yesudas is all humility as he keeps saying, “I still feel that I have to go a long way in Carnatic music, but I have tried to popularize classical music among the youth and am happy that more youngsters attend concerts today.”
It is not just Keralites who were enthralled by his songs. After his 1961 debut in Malayalam films, he established himself within three years and soon began to sing in other South Indian languages too. In the early 70s, he recorded the enchanting “Ni sa ga ma pa ni” for Salil Chowdhury in the Hindi film “Anand Mahal”, which however never got released.
Later his “Jaaneman”(Choti Si Baat) for the same composer marked his launch in Hindi films in 1976.The same year he won pan-India popularity for the four lovely songs in Chitchor composed by Ravindra Jain (“Gori tera”, “Jab deep jale”, “Tu jo mere sur mein” and “Aaj se pehle”).
Many more hits followed in films like Swami, Alaap, Toote Khilone, Sunayana, Sawan Ko Aane Do, Gopal Krishna, Safed Jhoot, Payal Ki Jhankar, Chashme Baddoor and Swami Vivekananda.
Getting imagenomics free. Veteran Bollywood music critic Raju Bharatan described Yesudas as “God’s own voice”. And music directors in all languages marveled at his quick grasp.
One memorable moment during this period, in Yesudas’ own words, was when he recorded a song for Ravindra Jain, along with his idol Mohammed Rafi, “Rafi saab was my Manasa Guru during my childhood, when I grew up singing his songs. After this recording, he complimented me on my singing. That was a moment to cherish.”
Vijay Yesudas Carnatic Songs
Yesudas is the only singer in the country who has won the National Award seven times, narrowly missing out on several other occasions!
His best songs happened to be in commercial films which never made it to the National Awards shortlist, for which cinematic brilliance alone -and not its songs- is the sole criterion. Here’s an indicative list.
National Awards won
National Award near-misses
Manushyan mathangale…from Achanum Bappayum(1978)
Padma theerthame…from Gayatri (1973)
Songs from Chitchor (1977)
Songs from Telugu film Meghasandesam (1983)
Unnikale Oru…from Unnikale Oru Katha Parayam (1988)
Songs from Bharatham (1992)
Songs from Sopanam (1994)
Songs from Alaap (1978)
Sagarame Santhamaka…from Bhajagovindam (1979)
Songs from Gaanam (1982)
Songs from Sindhu Bhairavi (1986)
Pramadavanam…; Devanganangal…; Devi…(all songs from 1991)
Songs from Sargam (1993)
Harimuraleeravam…from Aaram Thampuran (1998)
Yesudas is a rare synthesis of a divine voice, an infinite range, thorough classicism, a wealth of expression and many more musical qualities. Many music directors have told this writer about how they were amazed to see their compositions enriched beyond expectations by Yesudas’ golden voice and emotion-laden rendering.
The doyen of Malayalam film composers, the tough taskmaster Devarajan Master told this writer, way back in 1988, “Many of my compositions and also those of Baburaj and Dakshinamurthy would not have seen the light of the day, and would have remained in the cans instead, if a singer like Yesudas had not emerged in the 60s to render them.”
There can be no greater praise for any singer.
Yesudas Old Songs
(This article first appeared in Fullpicture.in. You can read the original article here. The News Minute has syndicated the content.)
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Yesudas Carnatic Songs Mp3
Born In: Kochi, Kerala
Career: Classical Musician and Playback Singer
Dr. K. J. Yesudas is one of the famous Indian classical musicians as well as a renowned playback singer. He has recorded numerous songs in many Indian as well as foreign languages. His contribution in promoting Indian music is immense. Thus he is known as the 'Cultural Ambassador of India'. Yesudas has sung in both Tamil and Hindi film industry, but is most famous for his Malayalam songs. He has been honored with many awards and titles and he continues to spin magic with his melodious voice. He has sung popular film songs, classical, Carnatic and devotional songs.
Yesudas was born on 10th January, 1940, in Kochi (Kerala) as Katttassery Joseph Yesudas. His father was Augustine Joseph Bhagavathar, while his mother was Elizabeth Joseph. Yesudas started to receive training in Carnatic music at a very young age. His first Guru was his father Augustine Joseph Bhagavathar, a well-known theatre artist and a classical singer. After that, he joined the R.L.V. Music Academy in Thrippunithura for training. He later went to the Sree Swathithirunal Music Academy for higher studies. One of the most senior and respected performers of Kerala, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar trained him in classical music. Yesudas won a gold medal at the age of seven at a local music competition in Kochi. He has recorded in many languages that include Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Gujarati, Oriya, Marathi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tulu, Russian, Arabic, Latin and English.
In the Middle East, Yesudas presented Arabic songs in Carnatic style. He also played a very important role in promoting Indian music in foreign countries by giving many performances. He began his career as a playback singer from the Malayalam movie 'Kaalpadukal'. In mid-1970, Yesudas started playback singing in the Bollywood. His first Hindi movie was 'Chhoti Si Baat'. But, he gave his voice first for the movie 'Jai Jawan Jai Kisan' (1971). He also gave his voice for many leading actors in Hindi cinema including Amol Palekar, Amitabh Bachchan and Jeetendra. In 2001, he sang for 'Ahimsa', an album in Sanskrit, Latin and English mixed with New Age and Carnatic music. His songs stand out not just for the melody but also for the versatility and style. Though Yesudas is an expert in Carnatic music, he also learnt classical music as he did not wanted to limit himself to only Carnatic music.
Contribution in Music
In the year 1970, Dr. K. J. Yesudas set up the 'Tharagini' a music company in Chennai. With this company, Malayalam songs were brought out with stereo effect. The studio still produces high quality recordings of Dr. K. J. Yesudas.
Awards and Accolades
Dr. K. J. Yesudas has been awarded with many awards. In 1989, he received the Doctorate degree from Annamalai University and in 2003, he received the D.Litt. degree from Kerala University. He has been awarded with the title 'Asthana Gayakan' (Official Singer) by government of Kerala. He has also received 'Sangeet Natak Academy Award' (1992), 'Sangeetha Sagaram' (Ocean of Music) in 1989, 'Padma Sri' (1973), 'Sangeetha Chakravarthy' (Music Emperor) in 1988, 'Sangeetha Raja' (Music King) in Chembai (1974), 'Padma Bhushan' (2002), 'Sangeetha Ratna' (Music Jewel), 'Swathi Ratnam' (Swathi Jewel), 'Sapthagiri Sangeetha Vidwanmani' (2002), 'Bhakti Sangita Geetha Sironmani'(2002), 'Kalaimamani' Award by Government of Tamil Nadu, 'Gaana Gandharva', 'Star ofI ndia' Award by Lt. Governor of Pondicherry, 'National Citizens Award' (1994). He has also been declared as a Senate member in the International Parliament for Safety and Peace. He has been given honorary award for 'Outstanding Achievements in Music and Peace' by UNESCO (1999), twenty three times State Film Awards for the best Playback singer by Government of Kerala, five times State Film Awards for the best Playback singer by Government of Karnataka, eight times for the best Playback singer by Government of Tamil Nadu, three times State Film Awards for the best Playback singer by Government of Andhra Pradesh and seven times the National Film Awards for the best Playback singer by Government of India.
Yesudas married Prabha his devoted fan of many years. The couple has been blessed with three boys Vinod, Vijay and Vishal. Vijay Yesudas is a budding musician who won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer in 2007. The family is currently settled in Chennai and Trivandrum. Yesudas also owns estates in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA and Flower Mound, TX, USA for personal and business reasons.
1940: Born in Kochi, Kerala
1970: Entered the Bollywood and set up a music company called 'Tharagini'
1971: Gave his voice to first Hindi film 'Jai Jawan Jai Kisan'
1973: Padma Sri
1974: Sangeetha Raja (Music King), Chembai
1988: SangeethaChakravarthy (Music Emperor)
1989: Doctorate by Annamalai University and SangeethaSagaram (Ocean ofMusic)
1992: SangeetNatak Academy Award
1994: National Citizens Award
1999: Honorary award for 'Outstanding Achievements in Music and Peace' by UNESCO
2001: Sang for 'Ahimsa', an album in Sanskrit, Latin and English mixed with New Age and Carnatic music
2002: Padma Bhushan,SapthagiriSangeethaVidwanmani and Bhakti SangitaGeethaSironmani
2003: D.Litt. by Kerala University, Kerala.