Kerala unable to honour singer Yesudas with lifetime award

Thiruvananthapuram: Noted singer K.J. Yesudas will have to wait for a lifetime achievement award in Kerala as the rules do not permit state governments to confer special titles on individuals, Culture Minister K.C. Joseph told the assembly Monday.

"The constitution is very clear that the state cannot offer any title to individuals and, hence, we are unable to honour Yesudas," Joseph said. "But we will certainly consider honouring him with a lifetime achievement award when he completes 50 years as a professional singer."

The minister was responding to a submission by Congress legislator Hibi Eden, who informed the assembly that Yesudas was completing a half-a-century in the music industry. It was in November 1962 that he made his first professional recording and went on to become a much sought after name beyond the boundaries of Kerala.

"Since his first recording, he has rendered songs in 14 languages, in an impressive music log of 35,000 songs, and has worked with every music personality in the industry," Eden said. "It is only befitting that the state honours him."

The 71-year-old veteran was born in Fort Kochi to Augustine Joseph and Alice Kutty. His father, who was a well-known Malayalam classical musician and stage actor, was his first guru.

He later joined the R.L.V. Music Academy in Trippunithura near Kochi for further training.

He then studied at the Sree Swati Thirunal Music College here under the tutelage of late Semmangudy Sreenivasa Iyer and, due to financial constraints, had to abandon his studies midway.

For a brief period, he was with Sri Vechur Hari Hara Subramania Iyer, after which he took advanced training from Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar.

Over the years, he has been conferred the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan, besides seven national and 17 state film awards in singing.

A father of three, his second son, Vijay Yesudas, emulated his father by winning his first ever state film award for singing in 2007.

Though settled in Chennai now, he comes in the state often and also owns a home in Florida.


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