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- Divya Jose -

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S

porting a trademark headgear, a bright srichurnam on the forehead and a shinny shawl draped over the shoulder, he carried a bag full of books and held a bunch of papers to his chest; a dozen pens that peep out of his pocket completes the picture. That was PB Sreenivas, came to known as PBS - singer, writer and composer. He did not let out too much about the phenomenal artiste he was. The versatile playback singer rendered more than 3,000 songs in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi, and enchanted listeners with his mellifluous voice. He is also acknowledged for familiarizing South Indian film music scenario with the ghazal genre of music. Apart from being a singer, Sreenivas was fluent in several languages. He could not only speak but also write in eight languages, including Kannada, English and Urdu. He penned ghazals and tried his hand at writing a few Kannada songs as well. When asked to speak at public functions, he would break into a song, usually penned by him for the occasion. PBS is known for humility and simplicity. He used to treat everyone with respect and never saw inexperience as a reason to look down on budding singers, and even at the peak of his career he didn’t think twice about using public transport. Born Prathivadhi Bhayankara Sreenivas into a family of musicians in Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, on September 22, 1930, the celebrated multi-lingual singer started his film career with the Hindi film ‘Mr. Sampat’ in 1952. Later, in 1953,

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he stepped onto the Kannada film industry which was the oyster of his success through the movie ‘Jathaka Phala’, and achieved great success through ‘Bhakta Kanakadasa’ starring Super Star Dr Rajkumar. However, his solo breakthrough came in ‘Prema Pasam’, in which he sang a duet with singer P Susheela. His voice is also featured in the Malayalam film Harishcandra. In a way he was known as the voice of Rajkumar till the Kannada Matinee idol himself turned a singer, and in Tamil his voice was used for Kadhal Mannan Gemini Ganesan. His voice was also used for other dominating figures in the industry of those times including Muthuraman, Ravichandran, Jaishankar and the like. The legendary singer had delivered innumerable hits, and his contribution as playback singer for the success of films like ‘Babruvahana’, ‘Bhaktha Kanakadasa’, ‘Emme Thammanna’, ‘Vijayanagaradha Veeraputra’, to name a few, cannot be ignored. “Yaar Yaar Avar Yaaro” from Tamil film ‘Pasamalar’, “Neeli Kannula Needala Lona” from Telugu film ‘Gudigantalu’, “Januma Janumadha Anubandha” from Kannada film ‘Saakshaathkara’, “Yellu Hogalla” from Kannada film ‘Gandhadha Gudi’ are among the many of his songs which will remain evergreen in our hearts. Though Sreenivas had hit numbers in all the languages that he sang, it was in Kannada Film Industry that he sang the highest number of songs and it was in the Kannada Industry

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that he delivered the highest number of hit songs. Hit numbers, “Naavaaduva nudiye Kannada nudi”, “Aadisi nodu”, “Olave jeevana sakshatkara”, “Panchama veda premada nada”, “Vittala Vittala”, “Ivalu yaaru balleyanu”, “Aakashave beelali mele”, “Baare bare”, “Ravivarmana kunchada kale” and “Maanava dehavu moole mamsada tadike” are still loved by thousands of people in Karnataka. Having brought in a contemporary flavour to his singing, he enhanced the appeal of his songs making them highly fashionable and stylish in that era and for that matter, even now. The great mastery of technique and a profound understanding of voice modulation helped him in delivering the most subtle nuances with clarity. When he sang, the singing stood out more than the singer, and that was his biggest success as an artiste. His voice has won great honors, across language boarders; while he was honoured with Kalaimamani award from Tamil Nadu, he got Karnataka Rajyotsava award from Karnataka. On April 14, 2013, at the age of 82, the voice of PBS which rendered immortal hits such as “Roja Malare Rajakumari” and “Mayakamaa Kalakkama,” went silent. His mortal remains were consigned to flames, but his eternal voice has left behind a treasure trove of songs - something to be cherished forever. - Arun Tom Jacob -

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- Divya Jose May-Jun 2013

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R

ichie Havens, one of the most recognizable voices in popular music, is known for putting a soulful, poignant, fiery twist on folk songs and covers. The voice that inspired and electrified audiences from the Woodstock Music & Arts Fair in 1969 to the C coming full circle with the 30th Woodstock Anniversary celebration, “A Day in the Garden,” in 1999 - fell silent on April 22, 2013, leaving behind a great musical legacy. Richie Havens is gifted with a unique singing style that has remained ageless since he first emerged as part of musical history during his impromptu opening performance at the three-day Woodstock Festival in 1969. He was supposed to play for 40 minutes, and opened the show only because other artists were delayed by traffic; but his impromptu set lasted three hours. When his repertoire exhausted, he improvised the old spiritual ‘Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child’ into the ‘Freedom’, his best known song and an anthem for a generation. The song was included on the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 slavery-era film ‘Django Unchained’. Born in Brooklyn, New York on January 21, 1941, he moved to Greenwich Village before he was twenty, and became an integral part of the community’s alternative culture, performing poetry and developing his distinctive percussive acoustic guitar style with an innovative open tuning technique, using his thumb to make different chords. With warm gravelly voice and a flair for unusual arrangements, he was marked out as a performer to watch after the Woodstock Festival. Before the festival he had released a couple of albums, and later

encouraged by Woodstock success, he found his own record label, Stormy Fores. With his distinctive intense, rhythmic guitar style and soulful covers of pop and folk songs, Havens toured and recorded music for over three decades before retiring from the road 3 years ago. Richie Havens sang from his soul, pouring every ounce of emotion into the song which further enhanced his reputation. His repertoire was always a mixture of his own compositions and covers of other songwriters; he had a special talent for interpreting other people’s songs in his unique style. Beyond the music, his gentle and compassionate nature companied with his light humor and powerful presence helped him to convey messages of brotherhood and personal freedom for he considered the world his family and each and every one in this world as his friends.

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