Umara’s astonishing vocal range | Sunday Observer

Umara’s astonishing vocal range

Umara Sinhawansa
Umara Sinhawansa

One of the most rewarding aspects of following a singer’s career is watching he or she coming into her own judging by the way music fans react to he or she. Umara Rifky is a rare artiste. She burst out of the starting blocks with performances that is hard to beat. She was not alone. She was with her sister Umariya when the two of them launched out on the music scene, and blew away the music lovers. Both of them have inherited their talent from their parents Tony and Ayesha Sinhawansa who were a popular duo in the early years. And now Umara who is also running a music school in Sri Lanka sings at special concerts but shuttles between Colombo and her second home Hong Kong, where she sings along with none other than Dylan Lye and his scintillating band Proteus.

Dylan Lye has to be showered with congratulations for keeping the flag of Sri Lanka flying high in Hong Kong; taking over from Mignonne Fernando whose very successful band Jetliners literally broke all records where performance duration was concerned. Dylan Lye is happy that Umara sings with them. Since as he tells us, that she is much in demand and has performed numerous times by popular request. The next performance by Umara was yesterday August 31 at BB’s and according to all reports it was an exclusive sell out show.

Proteus led by Dylan Lye performs at BB’s a popular venue in Lan Kwai Fong located in the heart of the Central district of Hong Kong, is much in demand and has already performed numerous times to packed houses at each performance. The band’s repertoire is a mix of Latin, jazz and R+B. The band has performed at exclusive membership clubs, corporate and celebratory events in addition to overseas gigs in Singapore, Macau, China and also in Colombo’s most popular live music venue, Curve, many times over.

The band comprises Dylan Lye guitarist/bassist who has been influenced by the artistry of guitarists Howard Roberts, George Benson, Chuck Loeb, Wes Montgomery and bassists Abraham Laboriel, Stanley Clarke and Marcus Miller.

Fillipino Adonis de Jesus is the keyboardist/composer an extra ordinary performer who handles all the music arrangements for the band and has performed with many international artistes touring Hong Kong. We in Sri Lanka had the wonderful opportunity to see and hear him in person thanks to Dylan Lye. Jon Rebbeck is the saxophonist whose sound adds further glamour to Proteus. Of course the two Sri Lankans and former Jetliners, Hassan Musafer – drums and Bubu D.C. Wijesinghe – percussion are guru’s to most of the young drummers in Sri Lanka. Both are highly respected for their artistry not only in Sri Lanka but in Hong Kong too, as they keep the band in a tight groove.

Since Dylan Lye has moved over to play bass, the guitarist for Proteus is Balu Casi an accomplished guitarist from the Phillipines and as Dylan Lye tells us he has a unique style of playing the guitar adaptable for all types of music. Coming back to Umara who is the star at this performance on August 31 Hong Kong audience has been mesmerized by her voice and is most sought after performer at many venues and at many leading hotels in Hong Kong as the featured singer. Her musical approach has cemented her reputation as a formidable artiste who puts an emphasis on telling stories through her music.