Dedicated to music for decades, unparalleled Yesudas turns 82


Yesudas is synonymous with Kerala. There is no Malayalee alive who hasn’t sung his song even once in his life. His song is there on everyone’s lips, heart, and soul. If you love music, you automatically love Yesudas. The voice which began to dominate the musical days and nights of Malayalees since the 60s continues to reverberate with the same intensity across generations. What are the changes that have come over his voice over the years? How did his voice which smouldered with their youthful intensity in the 60s, evolve? Try taking a journey through his singing history. Only the blessed can hope for such a rare depth and consistency in voice timbre like him. He has literally conquered the world with his voice and made short work of the competition. Time has stood still in front of Yesudas. There is a reason why he continues to remain irreplaceable. His rendition of 'Akale Akale Neelakasham' for 'Midumidukki' is a fine example of his evolution as a singer. His change in voice timbre transforms the melody into a piece of beauty. Yesudas sang the same song again in 1995, 26 years later. For Rajasenan’s Adyathe Kanmani. Written by Sreekumaran Thampi and composed by the legendary M S Baburaj, it continues to be one of the biggest hits of all time.

He has followed punishing vows to maintain the purity in his voice. “Father, I only need the body of the Lord, I do not want blood' - Yesudas told His Holiness Gregorius, who offered the Holy Eucharist at his wedding. During thanksgiving, he was offered the bread dipped in wine. But upon the singer’s request, His Holiness gave the bread without dipping it in wine. It goes to show the kind of sacrifices he made to preserve the purity in his voice. Yesudas was able to maintain the beauty of his voice with such disciplined practices all through his life. He never consumed alcohol or smoked. Not even tasted wine. Even a helping of ice cream was a rare occurrence.

He literally devoted his life to music. It was like a penance. “If I had not been careful, it would have affected my voice. It would have sounded exhausted. When more flesh accumulates in the larynx, our sound changes. I would say musicians should also talk less to preserve the quality of their voice. There is a difference in muscle tone when one is speaking and singing. You should not even speak in the same intensity; you need to keep it at a balance.” Yesudas once explained his view on maintaining a clean voice.

'Let us coexist in this world pledging humanity, regardless of caste or creed'

He debuted as a playback singer in 1962 by singing this famous hymn of Sree Narayana Guru in Kaalpadukal. What a perfect beginning for a singer who later went on to sing over 30,000 songs. If you take a look at his singing career graph from the 60s it is impossible to pick the best one. How can you distinguish only the hits of that time? The veteran singer’s first hit in his film career was said to be “Adyathe Kanmani’ which he sang with P Leela from the film Bhagya Jathakam. Rest as they say is history.

It is impossible to decide which is his best song. But even if you want to push your luck and attempt such a task, we might pick some of his gems from the early 60s. That song would be ‘Thamasamenthe Varuvaan” written by P Bhaskaran and composed by Baburaj from Bhargavi Nilayam. t is unbelievable that he was born at a time when technology was so scarce. The recording was done on a single mike. Only the tabla and violin surrounded the singer. The final recording was done after rehearsing several times. Can there be a more evocative romantic song than this in Malayalam cinema? More so as it was sung by our most beloved and familiar ‘Gandharvasvaram’ of Malayalam.

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