I heard him sing first before I was born. Yesudas, the legendary voice that has been occupying a permanent place in the hearts of the music lovers around the world, is celebrating his 70th birthday. One of the true Keralite, he was born in a middle class Christian family. After realising his own talents in music, he dedicated his entire life for music.
He has registered his presence as a singer beyond comparison, in world musical history. Besides he has directed music for a couple of Malayalam movies, a job, which he averted and ignored completely, later. My father is his hard core fan and preferred to listen to his songs whenever he has time, a habit, which he ruefully abandoned, though not fully, due to the lack of free hours. But still he is a fan of that magical voice. My first memories about Yesuads’ songs are, as I said, prenatal.
Some scientists say that the child in mother’s womb listens to the sound waves around. And if a particular sound has been encountered with the child in the womb constantly, the child would become sensitive to that sound after its birth and throughout one’s life. A similar concept can be found in Aldous Huxley’s science fiction novel, The Brave New World. In the novel, human beings are shown as products of the factories. During the process, the children in the embryonic state are exposed to constant confrontation with audio signals, asserting the norms and rules of the concurrent world.
There are similar instances in the great Indian Epic Mhabharath about the prenatal memories, where Abhimanyu, a warrior, when he was in his mother’s womb, listens to a description of how to undo “Chakravyuh”, a legendary battle trick, and learns it.
It might be this prenatal memory that made me sensitive and comfortable in Yesudas’ voice, for as I said, my father was his fan and he used to play the ever green Yesudas songs in his radio or in his tape recorder. This might not be my own life story, but of every person who belongs to this part of India.
Kerala has produced some great talents in art. Yesudas, among them, is different, in the sense that his voice has become a cultural identity of Kerala– a symbol of artistic verve and richness of this south Indian state.