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Early Life of K.J. Yesudas

Kattassery Joseph Yesudas more popularly known as K.J.Yesudas was one of the distinguished playback singer from the Indian Classical Musical family. K.J. Yesudas was born in Koch in the state of Kerala on 10th January, 1940. K.J.Yesudas was born to Augustine Joseph Bhagavathar and Elizabeth Joseph who was his parents respectively. Yesudas was born in a Roman Catholic Atin Rite family. Yesudas's father Augustine Joseph Bhagavathar was a very famous classical singer and a theatre artist.

K.J.YESUDAS So he started teaching music to his son Yesudas at a very young age and started to train him in Carnatic music. So the first guru of Yesudas was his father. Later Yesudas went to Thrippunithura to be trained in the music academy there. After that he was for a brief period with Sri Vechur Hari Hara Subramania Iyer and underwent training. Next Yesudas went to Sree Swathithirunal Music Academy for higher studies where he was taught by the maestro of Classical Music, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar who was one of the most senior and respected performers in the field of classical music.

Though Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar was an accomplished trainer in Carnatic Music he also taught Yesudas Hindustani music and trained him to master it. In a local Muisc competition held at Kochi and when Yesudas was at the age seven he won a gold medal. He has recorded number of songs at least more than 50,000 in many languages that include Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Gujarati, Oriya, Marathi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tulu, Russian, Arabic, Latin and English. But he has not sung for Assamese and Kashmiri.

During K.J. Yesudas peak performance period he was also popularly referred by the people as Jim Reeves of South India whose voice was considered by his fans as nothing short of "divine". In fact in the year 2011 K.J.Yesudas completed his 50 years of singing. Yesudas played an immense role and contributed a lot towards Indian Classical Music and hence he is known as the "Cultural Ambassador of India".

K.J.YESUDAS Though Yesudas has sung many languages he is very famous for his Malayalam songs. K.J.Yesudas is noted for his devotional songs. He is been regarded with great esteem and glorified with awards and titles. K.J.Yesudas went to various schools of music and learnt the skills of music. He completed the Ganabooshanam course at R.L.V. Music Academy, Thripunithura, Cochin. He also studied at Sree Swathithirunal Music Academy, Trivandrum. Some of his teachers are K. R. Kumaraswamy (former principal of the Music College, Kochi), Thripunithura Shri K.C Kalyanasundaram Master, Kunjuvelan Aasan (a disciple of Nadaswara Vidwan Rajaratnam Pillai), Augustine Joseph (his father), V. Dakshinamoorthy, Ramankutti Bagavathar, Sivaraman Nayar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar.

Debut as Playback Singer

The entry of K.J.Yesudas as a playback singer happened on 14 November 1961 for the first song sung by him in Jaathi Bhedam Matha Dwesham and the music was composed by M B Sreenivasan. Yesudas is cenitmentally attached to this song and he usually sings this song on all the special occasions in front of the audience. Thus his career as a playback singer started in the early 1960's.

The first Malayalam movie he sung was Kaalpadukal along with many Tamil, Telugu and Kannada movies. It was when he sung for the Malayalam movie Bharya in the music of G. Devarajan and the lyrcs composed by the eminent Vayalar Ramavarma, he got his first break in the music career. The year 1967 had been a very successful year for him for he gave a number of hit songs and once again he had a major recognition among the public in the movie Udhyogastha along with M.S.Baburaj and the movie directed by P.Venu.

K.J.YESUDAS Yesudas entry into the film industry was through the movie Bommai, music composed by S. Balachandar. However there was a delay in the release of this movie and the first movie which was released having Yesudas sung was Konjum Kumari. In the early 1970's the combined effort of the trio's namely Salil, Yesudas and Prem Nazir has taken the Malayalam cinema industry by storm. K.J.Yesudas voice always suited perfectly for the evergreen hero of Malayalam Movie Industry Prem Nazir.

K.J.Yesudas took the credit of being one of the youngest person to head the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy in the year 1970. Yesudas made his debut in the Hindi Film industry in the early 1970's and the first hindi movie for which he sang was the movie Jai Jawan Jai Kissan (1971). But however the first hindi released with his playback singing was Chhoti Si Baat.

He had sung a number of evergreen Hindi and also worked with famous music directors like Ravindra Jain, Bappi Lahiri, Khayyam, Rajkamal and Salil Chowdhury. He has done many playback singing for many Hindi songs for leading actors in Hindi cinema including Amitabh Bachchan, Amol Palekar and Jeetendra. It was in 1976 when Yesudas worked with the music composer Ravindra Jain; he sung the most popular sung for the movie Chitchor in 1976.

In fact one of the greatest tributes given to K.J.Yesudas was by Ravindra Jain, when the blind music director acknowledged that if ever he happened to regain vision, the first person he would like to see would be Yesudas. A very interesting fact about K.J.Yesudas is that on 9 December 1971, Yesudas missed a flight which later crashed on the way to Madurai. A Hawker Siddeley HS 748 near Chinnamanur was descending into Madurai in reduced visibility. It flew into high terrain about 50 mi (80 km) from the airport, killing the four crew members and 17 passengers. If this had happened we would have lost the legend of the Music World.


K.J.YESUDAS K.J.Yesudas established the Tharangani Studio at Trivandrum in 1980 at Trivandrum. But however this studio was moved to Chennai in the year 1992. By 1998 the Tharangani Studio was got into a legal corporation with the US. Tharangni Studio and Tharangni Records became a recording center in Kerala which, for the first time, brought out audio cassettes of Malayalam film songs in stereo.

Chennai also had a voice mixing studio in the name of Studio27 and even now it produces and presents events of Yesudas both for film and Indian classical music concerts throughout the world. Yesudas has given his performance all over the world. The Soviet Union government took the privilege of inviting Yesudas in 1965, to erform at music concerts in various cities in the USSR and also sang a Russian song over Radio Kazakhstan.

At the time of the India Pakistan war which took place in 1971 Yesudas in order to raise funds for the Indian prime minister's National Defense Fund, he travelled to the nook and corner of Kerala only to perform along with his musical troop. In 2001 he sang for album Ahimsa in Sanskrit, Latin and English and in a mix of styles including new-age and Carnatic. As mentioned earlier he acts as a cultural ambassador for India and other countries by performing abroad.

K.J.YESUDAS In 2009 Yesudas began a cross-country musical campaign against terrorism in Thiruvananthapuram, with the motto 'Music for Peace'. Kavita Karkare, wife of Hemant Karkare, handed over the torch to Yesudas to mark the launch of the 'Shanthi Sangeetha Yatra'.

Yesudas was honoured with the senate membership in the International Parliament for Safety and Peace. Yesudas is a great devotee of Kollur Mookambika temple, Kollur, Karnataka. He is a regular visitor to this temple and he especially makes it a point to visit the temple on his birthdays and sings keerthans of Saraswati Devi, the Goddess of knowledge, music and the arts. Right from his 60th age he started a musical festival which goes for a period of nine days and it begins in the month of every January. Yesudas is very much involved in spiritualism and is a great devotee of Lord Ayyappa.

He has sung many songs devoted to Lord Ayyappa including one of the most famous and major hit song "Harivarasanam". Yesudas has the rare feat of performing the classical concert for 36 times in the 36-year old Soorya Music festival organized by Soorya Krishnamoorthy. This is one among his concerts which is highly followed by serious musical lovers and often rated as the most popular among his concerts in India.

Honours and Awards


Yesudas has sung more than 50,000 songs and has won some of the most prestigious awards like Padma Shri in the year 1975 and Padma Bhushan in 2002. He has won nearly seven National Awards for Best Playback Singer. Yesudas takes the credit of being the only singer who has been granted with the title Asthana Gayakan or the 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 26 times for the best playback singer by the Government of Kerala

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

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

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

Sangeetha Kalasikhamani, 2002 by The Indian Fine arts Society, Chennai