Merina drive

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The singer from Palghat who can switch from classical to film songs with ease

While writing on this very popular prima dona of Sydney, a feature of her singing  that comes to mind is her ability to handle all genres of music, with equal aplomb; be it the hard core Swati Tirunal creation ‘PahiJagaJanani (Raga Hamsanandini), presented at the sacred Helensburgh temple precinct, or belting out popular film hits to the accompaniments of Saaz Orchestra at Bowman Hall, or singing UmroJaan (by Urdu poet JanabMirzaHaiRuswa) melody ‘DilCheezkyahai’ made popular by Ashaji, to a receptive audience at the Oz-Ind Care fundraiser, she does all with effortless ease. Her ability to switch her voice and style to suit the occasion is unbelievable.

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I know Merina from the day she arrived in Australia and got married to Sumesh. I have her sing at various venues, always to the praise of her audience.

When Merina was eight years old, her parents took her to classes at a Music Institute in Thalassery (Kerala) run by the well-known Balan Master. Her father sent her to this Institute by bus as it was 12 kilometres away but he knew that Balan Master was the best in his field. Merina says her father was passionate about music, though she was more into classical dancing at this stage. In fact, Merina won a National Scholarship in dance along with another winner, ManjuWarrier, who later became a celluloid queen. Merina could not take up this scholarship because the nominated teacher was teaching at far away Calicut.

She decided to continue learning music and enrolled for a BA degree at Chittore Government College, Palghat. The course, according to Merina, helped her build a solid foundation in music. Her musical talent was written about in several newspapers, one of them being the prestigious Malayalam daily Matrubhumi.

Here, in Australia, Merina learns classical music from Mrs Uma Ayyar, a fine singer, teacher and person. Merina says that every music session with Umaji is “a unique experience of bliss”. In her spare time she teachers her daughters Chitra and Shreya music. “It is all God’s grace that I was guided in the right track and blessed with all that is needed to be a singer,” says Merina.

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