Seperated and isolated by the lumpen culture
No patronage for her being talented and cultured:
Up-close and personal
Neela Wickramasinghe has also become a victim of contemptible culture
which made Sri Lanka a cultural desert. While so called artists who
perform on political stage receive accolade and financial rewards, she
did not receive her due recognition, perhaps, due to her cultured voice
and sin of not contributing to baser tastes.
Neela Wickamasinghe - A winsome smile coupled with the cultured
voice that soothes and tutours human race.
Pic : Ranga Chandrarathne
Out of jealousy, many awards which were rightfully her had been
robbed. The same fate befell on artists like Gunadasa Kapuge and Malini
It is incomprehensible why the genuine artists and their original
works are relegated to the backburner while upholding fake and imitative
work as creations of our own.
However, it is an indisputable fact that very signature of nation
imbedded in the original works of art sprang out from indigenous
According to Neela Wickramasinghe, a song should contain an inspiring
notation with a voice which will address the heat and mind of the
listener. A good song can move the audience and create zests of
melancholy as well as happiness.
A notation that will create momentary and passing impulses, in this
instance, can not be considered as a song. Song will leave behind a
memory in the mind and heart of the listener. Song also should contain
As a teacher of music with over 23 year's experience, Neela is of the
view that a practical aspect of the music is essential. The authorities
decision to remove practical sessions from music syllabi is a ridiculous
step which will enable a student to cram and obtain a distinction for
music without acquiring the ability to spell out a single note.
A delicate balance between practical sessions and theory should be
struck in order to produce talent. She is afraid, for instance that a
person who could not speak be able to obtain a distinction for music.
As music is a practical subject, in fact, an art, jettisoning the
practical sessions will destroy the creativity and ultimately the music
education in Sri Lanka. She emphasized the fact that variety fares and
year-end concerts music are held in school in order to boost talents and
to bring out students? creativity. Children are also talented in
composing lyrics. Scrapping off of practical sessions will completely
rob students of their creativity and talents.
Neela Wickramasinghe stated that a considerable sector of teachers of
music can not teach the subject owing to their inability and inaptitude.
There are some teachers of music who can not spell out the note "Sa".
She equates the steady deterioration of art and culture of a nature is
amounting to withering away of the very spirit of the nation.
Speaking on intellectual piracy, existing law regarding the legal
ownership of a song is modeled on Western laws. In operas, the musician
has the intellectual property rights as different artists sing in the
opera. However, this principle can not be applied to songs since a song
is sung by a vocalist.
For instance, a song is identified with singer not with the lyrists
or a musician. A notation and lyric will not make a song. Combination of
a notation with lyric becomes a song when it renders a voice or a life
to it. So the singer is the vehicle that carries song to the audience.
So considerable intellectual property rights should be vested with
the singer. These loopholes in the legislature are being exploited by
mushrooming singers and distort the original songs. They earn quick
money while those who have intellectual property rights for songs turn a
Disunity among the artists also hampered the effort of genuine
artists to protect the intellectual rights of artists and songs which
are being sung on popular stage by duplicate singers. As she loves art,
Neela Wickramasinghe doe not want to degrade the music to that of a
cheap game played on a popular play-ground.
Neela is fortunate to render her voice to best songs of our
generation. Perhaps, singular characteristic of her voice is its tutored
nature and femininity. As she comes from a classical back ground, her
voice knows the subtle under tones of notes and is, therefore, capable
of capturing the hearts and minds of thousands of Sri Lankans for
generations. It is not only a symbol of Sri Lankanness but also distinct
feature of cultured voice.
As art is the very heat of the nation, it should be protected. She
attributes the present moral decades to deteriorating standards of
songs. Most of the songs appeal to the impulses than to the heart and
mind of the audience.
Through media, cheap music has already devoured younger generation.
It is pathetic that Government media which should be the wayfarers are
also following cheap tactics of certain media and produced programmes
modeled on shallow productions.
She recalls with nostalgic memories when she actively participated in
ant-polio campaigns in Sri Lanka which would contribute to eradicate the
disease in Sri Lanka.
Among the sixty seven play-back songs, Viyogee Gayena Hade (Gahanu
Lamai), Rasamusu Penkalpana (Durga), Keena Dammitak, mee Aba Atte (Chanchala
Rekha) are some of the memorable ones. She believes in her talents and
subscribed to the idea that a person with abilities can face challenges.
She states that music is not something for competition which will ruin
She is thoroughly disappointed about the wave of commercialism that,
some times, sweeps off even an established artist. However, she does not
advocate the idea that public taste has been deteriorating. For
instance, a concert held in Bandarawela. Though oriental instruments
were exclusively used for the concert, the venue was inundated with
crowd who even stayed after the show to meet the artists in person.
She believes that the commercial wave is one which has been
artificially created by certain media just to lead the audience on the
garden path. Although taste among the younger generation is, somewhat,
lowered by the sweeping commercial wave, youngsters complaint that the
songs with a classical base are hardly played on media. These songs are
not memorable but transient as they produce cacophony of noises.
Speaking of the increasing expatriate Sri Lankan community scattered
in diverse parts of the globe, Neela Wickramasinghe stated that these
Sri Lankans have a thirst for quality music.
This has been vindicated by the overwhelming response she received at
concert held abroad. They invited veteran artists for those concerts for
the very reason that expatriate communities appreciate songs (not
incoherent set of noises) that are registered in their heart and mind.
It should be mentioned here that Neela was introduced to me by
expatriate Sri Lankan writer Sunil Govinnage who is her avid fan.
From childhood, singing was a part of her life. Perhaps, the ability
was hereditary as almost all members of Visharada Neela Wickramasinghe's
family are born singers. Having mastered the craft, she entered the
field of music singer; 1959 sang her debut song for SLBC and a play-back
song in 1966.
Though she is a one of the sought after songstress, Neela
Wickramasinghe enjoyed more her teaching career and imparting her
knowledge to a generation of students.
She consider her play-back sons Viyogee Gayena Hade for Sumitra
Peries's Gahanu Lamai as a watershed in her career on account its being
western notation, a deviation from her indigenous folk song base.
Viyogee Gayena Hade and Master Sir, a play-back song for Manick
Sandarasagara's Kaludiyadahara were songs based on Western notations.
The music for the songs was composed by Nimal Mendis.
"The Mother"- a caring Organisation
Envisioned by songstress Neela Wickramasinghe, "The Mother" was born
in 2002, with the aim of catering to children, elders and artists who
made a lifetime contribution to the field.
"The Mother" held a "Master Sir" concert and presented "The Mother"
award to selected artists; C. J. S Kulatilaka, D. D. Gunasena, V.
Hemapala, Henry Kaldera and Ven. Rambukkana Siddartha. Except Ven.
Rambukkana Siddartha Thero, other artists were presented with a sum of
Rs. 20,000 each together with the "The Mother" award.
"The Mother" has already done number of successful projects including
construction of a house for artist Shelton Premaratne. The
organization's this year's focus will be on financing disabled children
and their education. The organisation also finances needy children's