K J Yesudas
Profiles of Cine Play Back Singers

Kattassery Joseph Yesudas (born 10 January 1940) is an Indian classical musician and playback singer. Yesudas sings Indian classical, devotional, and popular music. He has recorded more than 50,000 songs in many languages including Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali, Gujarati, Oriya, Marathi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tulu, Malay, Russian, Arabic, Latin and English during a career spanning five decades. He has performed in most Indian languages except Assamese, Konkani and Kashmiri. He also composed a number of Malayalam film songs in the 1970s and 1980s. Yesudas is fondly called Gana Gandharvan (English: The Celestial Singer). In 2006, he sang 16 film songs in four South Indian languages on the same day at AVM Studio, Chennai.

The first song by Yesudas is Jaathi Bhedam Matha Dwesham (music: M B Sreenivasan) on 14th Nov 1961, which he usually sings in all the special occasions in front of the audience. Yesudas began his career in playback singing in the Malayalam movie Kaalpadukal and Kollywood movies in the early 1960s.

He got first brake in his music career from the hit malayalam film named Bharya music by G. Devarajan and Lyrics by Vayalar Ramavarma. He sang in Tamil for Bommai first (music: S. Balachander), but the first released movie was Konjum Kumari (music: Veda).

The trio combination of Salil-Yesudas and Prem Nazir (the evergreen hero of Malayalam Cinema) took the Malayalam Cinema Industry of the 70's by storm. As a matter of fact, it was generally agreed that Yesudas's voice was the most ideal one for Prem Nazir.

In 1970, he was nominated to head the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy and was the youngest person ever to occupy the post. By the 1970s Yesudas entered Bollywood.His first Hindi song was for the movie Jai Jawan Jai Kissan (1971), but the first released movie was Chhoti Si Baat. He has sung Hindi songs for many leading actors in Hindi cinema including Amitabh Bachchan, Amol Palekar and Jeetendra. He has sung many evergreen Hindi film songs for music directors including Ravindra Jain, Bappi Lahiri, Khayyam, Rajkamal and Salil Chowdhury.

Yesudas's most popular Hindi songs are from the 1976 movie Chitchor, with music given by Ravindra Jain. The greatest tribute paid to him is cited during an interview with Ravindra Jain, wherein the blind music director confessed that if he ever happened to regain vision, the first person he would like to see was Yesudas.

Yesudas has performed in many major cities around the world. In 1965, he was invited by the Soviet Union government to perform at music concerts in various cities in the USSR and also sang a Russian song over Radio Kazakhstan. Yesudas became one of the senate members in the International Parliament for Safety and Peace.

For the past 30 years Yesudas has been visiting Kollur Mookambika temple, Udupi, Karnataka on his birthday to sing keerthans of Saraswati devi, the Goddess of knowledge, music and the arts. The music festival started on his 60th birthday. The nine-day music festival begins every January at Kollur Mookambika Temple. On January 10, 2010, he celebrated his 70th birthday (Sapthathi) at Kollur Sri Mookambika Temple with ‘Sangeetharchana’ (classical devotional songs), along with 70 singers before goddess Mookambika on Sunday. The Sangeetharchana included "Pancharatna Gayana" of Thyagaraja’s poems. He also took part in the Vidyarambha function. All India Radio broadcasted the special Sangeetharchana all over Kerala.

Tharangini was established in 1971 in India, incorporated in 1998 in the US, the audio cassettes revolution of the '70s found its echo in southern India mainly through the foresight and planning of Yesudas. Towards the end of that decade, he finalised plans for the establishment of a recording studio in Thiruvananthapuram.

Tharangini Studio and Tharangni Records thus became the first recording centre in Kerala and Malayalam film songs on music cassettes came out for the first time from Tharangni with the added attraction of stereo effect.

Tharangini has one more strength in the voice-mixing studio in Chennai. An expansion to the Thiruvanthapuram studio, Studio27 in Chennai boasts of the latest and best voice-mixing studio in Chennai. Tharangini continues to produce and present events of Yesudas both for film and Indian classical music concerts throughout the world.

Family Background

K. J. Yesudas was born in Fort Kochi, Kingdom of Cochin, into a Catholic family, to Augustine Joseph and Alicekutty. His father, who was a well-known Malayalam classical musician and stage actor. Yesudas is married to Prabha. They have three sons, Vinod, Vijay and Vishal.

Musical Training

His father was his first guru. Later he joined the R.L.V. Music Academy in Thrippunithura and underwent training. Later he studied in Sree Swati Thirunal music college, Thiruvananthapuram under the training of Late Semmangudy Sreenivasa Iyer. For a brief period, he was with Sri Vechur Hari Hara Subramania Iyer, after which he took advanced training from Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar.In 2011 he completed his 50 Years as a Play Back Singer.

Trained under K. R. Kumaraswamy (former principal of the Music College, Kochi), Kunjuvelan Aasan (a disciple of Nadaswara Vidwan Rajaratnam Pillai), Augustine Joseph, Dekshinamoorthi Swamikal V. Dakshinamoorthy, Ramakutti Bagavathar, Sivaraman Nayar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar.

Educational Qualification & Sports

Completed the Ganabooshanam course at R.L.V. Music Academy, Thripunithura, Cochin. Graduated from the Sree Swathithirunal Music Academy, Trivandrum.

Awards & Titles

Yesudas has recorded over 50,000 songs and has won scores of accolades including the coveted Padma Shri (1975), Padma Bhushan (2002)[33] and seven National Awards for Best Playback Singer. He is the only singer who has been accorded the title Asthana Gayakan (official singer) of Kerala State.

National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer a record seven times by the Government of India

Kerala State Film Awards a record 24 times for the best playback singer by the Government of Kerala

Tamil Nadu State Film Awards five times for the best playback singer by the Government of Tamil Nadu

Andhra Pradesh State Film Awards four times for the best playback singer by the Government of Andhra Pradesh

Karnataka State Film Awards five times for the best playback singer by the Government of Karnataka

West Bengal State Film Awards one time for the best playback singer by the Government of West Bengal

Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1992)

D. Phil by Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu (1989)

D. Litt by Kerala University, Kerala (2003)

D. Litt by Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala (2009)

Swaralaya - Eenam Awards 2010 - Decade's Best Talent in Malayalam Music

Swathi Sangeetha Puraskaram in 2011, highest music award given by Government of Kerala

On November 14, 1999, Yesudas was presented with an honorary award by UNESCO for "Outstanding Achievements in Music and Peace" at the "Music for Peace" event in Paris.