Music of Kerala has a long and rich history. kerala is a state which lies in southern India. The music of Kerala not necessarily directly imply to poetry in Malayalam language, the official and most widely used language in the state, despite the fact that most of the music in Kerala is poetry driven. Kerala has a rich tradition in carnatic music as well, though that branch of music was formed in Tamilnadu and uses kannada, the language of karnataka, both Tamilnadu and Karnataka being neighboring states of Kerala.songs formed a major part of early malayam literature, which is believed to have started developing by 9th century .The significance of music in the culture of kerala can be established just by the fact that in Malayalam language, musical poetry was developed long before prose. With the development of music in the region, different branches were formed out of it. The most basic branches are classical music which is primarily Carnatic music oriented, and which primarily includes film songs. Then there is music like chenda melam, which despite its religious nature, enjoys status of classical music as well as popularity.
Kerala Film music
Film music, which refers to playback singing in the context of Indian music, forms the most important canon of popular music in India. Film music of Kerala in particular is the most popular form of music in the state. Before Malayalam cinema and Malayalam film music developed, the Keralites eagerly followed Tamil and Hindi film songs and that habit has stayed with them till now. The history of Malayalam film songs begin with the 1948 film Nirmala. The film's music director was P.S. Divakar and the songs were sung by P. Leela, T. K. Govinda Rao, Vasudeva Kurup, C. K. Raghavan, Sarojini Menon and Vimala B. Varma, who is credited as the first playback singer of Malayalam cinema.
The main trend in the early years was to use the tune of hit Hindi or Tamil songs in Malayalam songs. This trend was changed in the early 1950s by the arrival of a number of poets and musicians to the Malayalam music scene. People who stormed into the Malayalam film music industry in the 1950s include musicians like V. Dakshinamurthy (1950), K. Raghavan (1954), G. Devarajan (1955) and M.S. Babu Raj (1957) and lyricists like P. Bhaskaran (1950), O.N.V. Kurup (1955) and Vayalar Rama Varma (1956). They are attributed with shaping Malayalam film music stream and giving it its own identity.Major playback singers of that time were Kamukara Purushothaman, K.P. Udayabhanu, A.M. Raja, P. Leela, Santha P. Nair, P. Susheela and S. Janaki. Many of these singers like A.M. Raja, P. Susheela and Janaki were not Malayalis and their pronunciation was not perfect. Despite that, these singers received high popularity throughout Kerala. In later years many non-Malayalis like Manna Dey, Talat Mehmood, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle and S.P. Balasubramaniam sang for Malayalam films. This trend was also found among music directors to an extent, with outside musicians like Naushad, Usha Khanna, Bombay Ravi and Ilaya Raja.This can be attributed to the fact that film music in South India had a parallel growth pattern with so many instances of cross-industry contributions.
K.J. Yesudas, who debuted in 1961, virtually revolutionised the Malayalam film music industry and became the most popular Malayalam singer ever. He became equally popular with classical music audience and people who patronised film music.He, along with P. Jayachandran, gave a major facelift to Malayalam playback singing in the 1960s and 1970s. Malayalam film music also received heavy contributions from musicians like Johnson, M.G. Radhakrishnan, Raveendran, S.P. Venkitesh and Ouseppachan, lyricists like Sreekumaran Thampy, Yusuf Ali Kechery, and Kaithaprom Damodaran Namboodiri, and singers like M.G. Sreekumar, G. Venugopal, K.S. Chitra and Sujatha Mohan. A notable aspect in the later years was the extensive of classical Carnatic music in many film songs of the later 1980s and early 1990s. Interestingly, that particular period is also considered the peak time of Malayalam cinema itself and is quite widely known as the Golden Age of Malayalam cinema, a period in which the difference between art films and popular films was least felt. Similarly, classical Carnatic music was heavily used in several popular film songs, most notably those in films like Chitharm (1988), His Highness Abdullah (1990), Bharatham (1991), Sargam (1992) and Sopanam (1993).
At present, the major players in the scene are young talents like musicians M. Jayachandran, Deepak Dev, Alphonse, Jassie Gift and Biji Pal, lyricists Gireesh Puthanchery, Vayalar Sarath and Anil Panachooran, and singers Madhu Balakrishnan, Afsal, Manjari and Jyotsna, along with stalwarts in the field.
The national award winning music directors of Malayalam cinema are Johnson(1994, 1995) and Bombay Ravi (1995). The 1995 National Award that Johnson received for film score of Sukrutham (1994) was the only instance in the history of the award in which the awardee composed the film soundtrack rather than songs. He shared that award with Bombay Ravi who received the award for composing songs for the same film. The lyricists who have won the national award are Vayalar Ramavarma (1973), O.N.V. Kurup (1989) and Yusuf Ali Kechery (2001). The male singers who got national award are K.J. Yesudas (1973, 1974, 1988, 1992, 1994), P. Jayachandran (1986) and M.G. Sreekumar (1991, 2000). Yesudas has won two more national awards for singing in Hindi (1977) and Telugu (1983) films, which makes him the person who has won the largest number of National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer with 7 awards, closely trailed by S.P. Balasubramaniam with 6 awards. The female singers who have won the award are S. Janaki (1981) and K.S. Chitra (1987, 1989). Chitra had also won the award for Tamil (1986, 1997, 2005) and Hindi (1998) film songs, which makes her the person with the largest number of National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer wins with 6 awards, closely trailed by P. Susheela with 5 awards.
K.J.Yesudas (Kadassery Joseph Yesudas) is a living legend in the history of Indian Classical music. No other musician or no other voice can be compared with this exceptional singer. He has the rare talent of singing 16 songs fluently and mellifluously in four different languages in a single day. Through K. J. Yesudas' 50,000 songs, Indian music got transported to another sublime level for common man's perception. authorities due to his birth as a Christian. We can wish that earth born Gandharva can fulfill his greatest his desire through the transcending power of music.
Born on January 10, 1940 at Fort Kochi as the son of Augustine Joseph and Elizabeth Joseph, the child Yesudas started to sing as soon as he started babbling the first words. His father was his first 'guru' in music and he joined the Music Academy in Thrippunithura and won a gold medal for music at a local competition in Fort Kochi at age seven. Yesudas' divine music was trained under Chembai Vaidynatha Bhagavatar till he became 34 years old.K. J Yesudas also trained in Hindusthani music and combined Carnatic and Hindusthani style in almost all his songs.
Salil Choudhury discovered K.J. Yesudas' talent and brought him into playback singing. K J yesudas got a proper nurture for his talent from Ravindra jain and sang 40,000 songsfor Malayalm films alone. Apart from Malayalam songs he sung for Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali, Gujarati, Oriya, Marathi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tulu, Russian, Arabic, Latin and English films through his long career. His concert always attracted large audience and in his music concerts at Middle East he performs Arabic songs in Carnatic style.
K.J Yesudas is the only singer who has the title Asthana Gayaka( Official Singer) of Kerala State. The greatful nation remembered to award him rightly when the Presidential awards for 1973 came. He was awarded with Padmashree award on that year and again awarded with Padma Bhusan award on 2002. The long list of awards attained by K.J Yesudas cannot be condensed to a smaal article. However he is the only singer who got 50 awards only for his playback singing.
K.J.Yesudas and his wife Prabha have three sons Vinod, Vijay and Vishal. The family resides in Chennai and Florida. His son Vijay who got married to Darshana is an upcoming singer in Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu. The family believes in Sri Narayana Guru's principle "One caste, one religion and one God for all humans". However there is a lifetime lifetime music concert that still remain unfullfilled in this great legendary singer's mind. He wants to present his songs in front oflord krishns at Guruvayoor temple that has been denied to him by temple
authorities due to his birth as a Christian. We can wish that earth born Gandharva can fulfill his greatest his desire through the transcending power of music.