Early Life of Kattassery Joseph Yesudas
K.J Yesudas was born to Augustine Joseph and Elizabeth Joseph on 10th January 1940 in Fort Kochi, Kerala, India. Augustine Joseph, a well-known Malayalam classical musician and stage actor of his time was also Yesudas's first 'Guru', the teacher. His mother, Mrs. Alikkutty Joseph, devoted her time and energy in bringing up her children. Eldest of the four sons and one daughter of the Joseph couple, Yesudas took to music at a very early age. Dr. Yesudas is happily married to Prabha for more than 30 years. They have three sons, Vinod, Vijay and Vishal. The second son Vijay Yesudas is a budding musician. The family is currently settled in Chennai, India and visit Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA time and again for business reasons.
Childhood of Kattassery Joseph Yesudas
In his childhood Yesudas had to face a great deal of hardships because of the meager financial resources of his parents. His father could recognize the boy's musical talent at a very young age and decided to provide him musical education at any cost. At the tender age of five Yesudas was taught the fundamentals of Carnatic music. Indian music world soon began to witness the appearance of a new bright star in the horizon. Later several music teachers in and around Cochin gave him valuable guidance he was seeking.
Yesudas was the top singer for several consecutive years at the St. Sebastian's High School, Pallurthi, Cochin. In 1957, he stood first in the state level, school youth festival in Carnatic vocal singing. He joined the R.L.V Music Academy in Thrippunithura near Cochin for the Ganabhooshanam course which he completed with a double promotion and distinction in 1960. Meanwhile, the young singer joined the Sree Swathithirunal Music Academy, Trivandrum, for higher studies. But he could not complete the course due to financial problems at home. He won a gold medal for music at a local competition in Fort Kochi at the tender age of seven. He was trained by the Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar who was one of the senior most performers of the time in Classical Music, and this training, abruptly cut short by the guru's demise in 1974, still stood him in good stead. It is his passion for music, hard work and dedication that created the musical legend we call Yesudas or more intimately "Dasettan".
Life in Music for Kattassery Joseph Yesudas
On 14th November 1961 Yesudas recorded his voice for the first time for him. It was a verse written by Sri.Narayana Guru, the sage of the backward classes of Kerala. The lyrics of the simple song conveyed a great meaning. It read: "This is a model place where all the people live like brothers and sisters, unaffected by the difference of caste and the enmities of religion". Truly a message in national integration, For Yesudas, for Kerala and for India, it was an auspicious day and an auspicious beginning.
He also learned Hindustani Music although he is a Carnaticexpert. His voice lends itself well to both Indian classical, devotional and popular songs. He has recorded more than 40,000 songs for many languages including Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Gujarati, Oriya, Marathi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tulu, Russian, Arabic, Latin and English through his long career. He had sung almost all Indian language films except Assamese and Kashmiri.
Yesudas's career in playback singing started in South Indian film industry in early 60's and in middle of 70's he entered in Bollywood. Offers started pouring in after the release of a few more film songs and K. J. Yesudas never looked back after that. He became the favourite of the elderly, darling of the middle aged, craze among the youth and singing idol of the teen-age generation. All India Radio, which once refused to recognize his talents, started playing his records day in and day out. Sales of his long play records created new records, every time they were released to the public. He was invited to give concerts of film songs in every town and village of Kerala and also in every city and town in every part of India and overseas. He had bagged seven times National Film Award for the best singer in Indian film industry. In 2006 he has sung 16 film songs in four South Indian languages on the same day at AVM Studio, Chennai.
Yesudas has, till date, performed in almost all the major cities of the world. In his music concerts at Middle East he performs Arabic songs in Carnatic style. And dons the role of cultural ambassador of India through his numerable performances abroad, promoting Indian Music. He is the only one singer who has the title "Asthana Gayakan", Official singer of Kerala State. In 1965, he was invited by the Soviet Union government to perform at music concerts in various cities in the U.S.S.R and had sung a Russian song over Radio Kazakhstan. In 1970 he was nominated to head the Sangeetha Nataka Academy of Kerala, he was the youngest person ever to occupy the office. In the year 1971, Yesudas travelled around Kerala with his musical troupe to raise funds for the Indian Prime Minister's National Defense Fund during the Indo-Pakistani War. He became the member in the International Parliament for Safety and Peace, an international organization incorporated in the U.S. On November 14, 1999, Yesudas was presented an honorary award by UNESCO for "Outstanding Achievements in Music and Peace" at the "Music for Peace" event in Paris, a concert held to mark the dawn of the new millennium and whose attendees included artistes such as Lionel Richie, Ray Charles, Montserrat Caball‚ and Zubin Mehta.
In 1980 Yesudas established the Tharangni Studio at Trivandrum. In 1992 the office and studio were moved to Chennai and the company was incorporated in the U.S. in 1998. Tharangni Studio and Tharangni Records became a recording centre in Kerala which, for the first time, brought out audio cassettes of Malayalam film songs in stereo. The record company also had a voice mixing studio in Chennai, Studio27. The studio continues to produce and present events of Yesudas both for film and Indian classical music concerts throughout the world.
Titles and Honours Received by Kattassery Joseph Yesudas
Yesudas has recorded over 40,000 songs and has won scores of accolades including the coveted Padma Shri (1975), Padma Bhushan (2002) 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 PradeshState Film Awards four times for the best playback singer by the Government of Andra Pradesh
* KarnatakaState 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
Senate member in the International Parliament for Safety and Peace, an organization incorporated in the United States.
An Honorary award for "Outstanding Achievements in Music and Peace" by UNESCO in 1999.
National Film Awards Seven times for the best Playback singer by Government of India. State Film awards Twenty three times for the best Playback singer by Government of Kerala.
State Film awards Eight times for the best Playback singer by Government of Tamil Nadu.
State Film awards Five Times for the best Playback singer by Government of Karnataka. State Film awards Three times for the best Playback singer by Government of Andra Pradesh.
State Film awards One time for the best Playback singer by Government of West Bengal. Dr.Yesudas won national award seven times, a record, no other singers either male or female managed equal or surpass. 1972, Film Name: Achanum bappayum, Language: Malayalam, First line of the song: Manushyan mathangale. 1973, Film Name: Gaayathri, Language: Malayalam, First line of the song: Padmatheerthame unaru. 1976, Film Name: Chitchor, Language: Hindi, First line of the song: Gori thera gaon bada. 1982, Film Name: Megha Sandesam, Language: Telugu, First line of the song: Aakasa desana. 1987, Film Name: Unnikale Oru Kadha Parayam, Language: Malayalam , First line of the song: Unnikale oru kadha parayam. 1991, Film Name: Bharatham, Language: Malayalam, First line of song: Rama kadha gaana layam. 1993, Film Name: Sopanam, Language: Malayalam, First line of the song: Sopanam (title song).