Notes from the master

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KJ Yesudas to perform in Australia this August

More than 50,000 songs to his credit, more than 50 years of playback singing, and to think KJ Yesudas’s singing career began with a rejection. But the 74-year-old classical singer says he never let the All India Radio rejection or the fact that he never made it past the auditions for the film Nalla Thanka stop him. He worked hard till he got his first break in Malayalam film Kaalpadukal (Footprints) in 1962, and his life was never the same again. You could the world of Malayalam playback singing was never the same again.

Yesudas, who learnt the fundamentals of Carnatic music at the age of five and gave his first stage performance at the age of 12, has sung in every Indian language except Kashmiri and Assamese. He has won more than seven national awards, eighteen Kerala State Awards, eight Tamil Nadu State Awards, five Karnataka State Awards, four Andhra Pradesh State Awards, and a Bengal State Award. One of the most popular playback singers in the country today, Yesudas has won the National Award for the Best Male Playback Singer seven times and the State Award for the Best Playback Singer more than 40 times.

He was awarded the Padma Shri for excellence in art by the government of India in 1975 and the Padma Bhushan in 2002.

Australia will get a chance to see the singer perform some of his most popular numbers on 24 August at Robert Blackwood Hall, Clayton, Victoria. “I want to take Indian culture and music to the rest of the world,” Yesudas once said in an interview. “Melody appeals to everyone. And our music is strong in melody.”

Yesudas has always believed music is a “continuous process of learning”. “We can’t finish it in one birth. If you give me next birth — if there is one for me — I have to continue the same thing. If I don’t get permission to begin from where I stopped in the present birth, I don’t want the next birth,” he said in an interview.

You can hear him at his best on 24 August at Robert Blackwood Hall, Clayton, Victoria. Call 0424 934 804 or 03 8742 2012 for more details.

Published in The Indian Sun (Indian Newspaper in Melbourne)

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