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Musical Genius KJ Yesudas Turns 80

K.J. Yesudas on his 80th birthday

Yesudas is said to have recorded over 80,000 songs during his almost six-decade-long career. His musical genius has also been honoured by UNESCO for his outstanding achievement in propagating Music and Peace in 1999.

The veteran Indian vocalist is fondly called Gana Gandharvan meaning the celestial singer by fans globally. He is also regarded as one of the best playback singers in India and today, 10 January 2020 he celebrates his 80th birthday.

The KJ Yesudas’ voice has for many decades charmed its way into the collective consciousness of his adoring fans around the world bringing melody into every note of music.

Yesudas started his film career with Malayalam movies and eventually sang for Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi movies as well. He has also sung in Arabic, English, Latin and Russian. It is also known that KJ Yesudas once recorded 16 songs in four languages on the same day for a film.

“Even today, he wakes up at 5 a.m. and practices. It’s this effort that is paying off now. I still admire him and watch him in awe,” Vijay Yesudas said as he praised his father’s work ethic

His love for Carnatic music and devotional songs is well-known right from his early years as a struggling singer. A recipient of eight National Awards, the musical legend has sung in several Indian languages. In Hindi, some of Yesudas’ most loved songs include ‘Gori Tera Gaon Bada Pyara,’ ‘Aaj se pehle,’ ‘Jaaneman jaaneman teere do nayan,’ ‘Jap Deep Jale Aana’, among many others.

What is most striking about his rise is that even as Dr. KJ Yesudas scripted history as a singer, breaking the traditional boundaries of caste supremacy in the world of music as it prevailed at the time.

Most importantly, he entered the world of classical music and playback singing, without challenging the musical institutions and systems that flourished. He chose to learn by honouring with humility the musical realms that he sought to master as a specialized domain that had brilliant maestros to learn from. Despite the many challenges that he had to deal with, KJ Yesudas maintained his poise throughout the struggling years of his career, which is how he eventually established himself as a musical legend.

Among Malayalis, it is a common saying that he is the rare singer who has been blessed with a golden voice that awakens the Gods. While Yesudas has many soulful devotional songs to his credit, especially those invoking Lord Guruvayurappan, his most famous and most loved devotional song is ‘Harivarasanam’, which remains unparalleled in the world of devotional music and chants, invoking Lord Ayyappa, the deity of Sabarimala shrine.

No wonder, Dr. K.J. Yesudas earned the popular tag, ‘Gaana Gandharvan’, which means ‘Celestial Singer.’ The iconic singer has been conferred the highest and most prestigious awards including the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.

Happy birthday Dasettan!

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