Rukshan A musical genius turned Good Samaritan | Sunday Observer

Rukshan A musical genius turned Good Samaritan

14 June, 2020

Even though many days have passed, the horrendous, inhuman murder of George Floyd still rocks and shatters the world, especially the USA where the dastardly murder took place. Among the millions of horrified, shocked and saddened people is Sri Lankan singer and composer Rukshan Perera

(a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and the USA).His great outrage inspired Rukshan to write this powerful song for Floyd. He also highlights burning issues like racial discrimination, injustice and inequality. The lyrics and melody are by Rukshan and his brother Melantha assists with the melody and harmony in the singing. The song was launched on June 9 (Tuesday).

I can’t breathe 

The sun refuses to shine

inside a dark world,

Colour is a game they like to play,

The two worlds far apart,

one with justice,

Wish they both be one and the same,


Did I do something wrong,

please tell me officer,

I beg you please help me understand,

On the floor with handcuffs

at your mercy,

Please Sir, my life is in your hands


I can’t breathe, (please Sir),

I can’t breathe,

I can’t breathe no more,

I can’t breathe

Help me stand to live the day,

Give me one more chance to pray,

Can anyone hear, oh I can’t breathe


God take my life,

I’m ready to now surrender,

Though I tried,

I cannot find my home,

Please take care of my brothers

and my sisters,

The two worlds must be one,

when I am no more,


Rukshan Perera, is a music virtuoso who uses his great musical talent not only to give pleasure but also to help make the world a better place.  Apart from his music what makes Rukshan unique is his compassion for and empathy with all creatures great and small, sense of justice, belief in equality for all and love of the environment.             

A Sri Lankan by birth Rukshan lived here and attended Royal College before moving to the USA as a youth. He lived and worked there for almost 30 years.

There, he graduated with Summa Cum Laude in his BA in Information Systems and also obtained an MBA in Business Manage from the City University in New York. He was also an active member of the Royal College OBA in New York and was its President in 2004. Royal College OBA in New York funded  Rs. 15million for the new nurses’ quarters at IDH hospital and the work on the building commenced during the Covid-19 pandemic and the Army completed the building in record time span of two weeks. Rukshan was asked to represent the Royalists at the Handing over Ceremony on Vesak Day where he read the message from the President of the Association, Dr. Suku Nagendran.  He also composed and sang a special song titled Our Hearts Are Still There for this occasion.  It speaks of the old Royalists’ love of their motherland, of what their Alma Mater gave them and their desire to share.  It also acknowledges all those battling Covid-19.

Our healthcare workers, and armed forces,

We pray for your lives, for your sacrifice,

You carry us on your shoulders, through day and night,

You’re unsung heroes, in Sri Lanka

After graduation Rukshan joined Phillip Morris l International as a Systems Development Manager and worked both in New York and Switzerland and his tenure lasted for 20 years.   Rukshan lived in Los Angeles for a while and there he composed several songs. One titled One land for all was written in May 2009 after the Sri Lankan Civil War ended. A composition fostering peace, it was recorded with Sri Lankan musicians domiciled in Los Angeles.


Rukshan has used his God given gift of music to pay tribute to great personalities.  His You are the world is a Sri Lankan tribute to Michael Jackson while Meaning of Justice honours Nelson Mandela. ‘I am Malala’ was written to honour Malala Yousafazai’s commitment to education. He also composed a song of tribute to Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi Professor who introduced the concept of Micro Finance to the world. Rukshan was visiting his daughter who worked for Dr. Yunus and at her request wrote Feel free like a butterfly acknowledging the contribution by Dr. Yunus to free millions from poverty. The day after he wrote the song, Rukshan sang the song at Yunus Centre amidst an audience of about a 100 people invited by Dr. Yunus.  Mandela, Malala and Dr. Yunus are all Nobel Laureates.

The pull of his Motherland proved too strong to resist and Rukshan opted for early retirement and decided to return home in 2009.  While preparing to return home, one morning, a song came to Rukshan’s mind and he promptly sat at the piano and composed it.  His wife Piyum  returned home and R ukshan’s rendering of the song brought tears to her eyes.  Here is the heart tugging song.


                Coming home to you 

I left you long ago, to search for a better life,

I’ve travelled around the world, I’ve seen amazing sites,

Though I thought I had it made, you were always on my mind,

I’m coming home I’m coming home to you


I’m sorry for running away, leaving all the troubles at home,

I’ll make it up to you, from now you’ll never be alone,

I wanna play my role, to lift your mind spirit and soul,

I’m coming home I’m coming home to you


I packed my bags, I booked my flight,

I packed my mind and soul forever to be with you,

Give me the chance to lend my hand,

Sri-Lanka I’m coming home to you,

My Sri-Lanka, I’m coming home to you,


Now the war is a thing of the past, with Lessons learnt to last,

It’s time to reconcile, and see our children smile

Let’s carry the torch of love, throughout the Lanka land,

I’m coming home, I’m coming home to you,


Do you remember the good old days, we never thought of creed or race,

We laughed we cried we played, it’s the beauty that we shared,

Yes once a paradise, is always a paradise,

I’m coming home, I’m coming home to you,


I packed my…..

On returning home, Rukshan Perera has involved himself in social work.  One project  called Little Minds Strong Values is aimed at inculcating good values. It is a Rotary Club of Colombo project where 29 Sinhala/Tamil songs for children were written and composed by Rukshan with each song with encapsulating good  value/s and sending a powerful message inculcating these values at an early age. They all will be translated into English in the future for international use.  The project was launched last year, and next week another brand new song educating the children on Covid -19 will be launched in Sinhala, followed by Tamil and English The  Rotary Club has already distributed 1,500 DVDs to schools around the country and has conducted several Teacher Training programs around the country. Rukshan’s charity projects are many and foremost among them is Rukshan Perera Live in Concert – an annual event to raise funds for a designated charity.  All the songs featured at this concert series have been originals by Rukshan which is a breath of fresh air for Sri Lanka. 

Charitable work

It is very significant and creditworthy that Rukshan has raised 20 million rupees) for charitable work to date.

Rukshan was born into an environment of music as his mother was a music teacher who taught him the first few lessons at the piano. Music was also very much a part of family get togethers back home in Moratuwa. By the age of ten Rukshan had formed his own band Kala Mediriyo along with his cousins who lived next door. The band got a boost when they were asked to perform at a Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation (present Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation) program designed for up and coming bands hosted by Dr. Vijaya Corea. Armed with their guitars and ukuleles the twelve-year-old boys in shorts gave of their best.

With the advent of the electric guitars in the sixties Sri Lankan music underwent a revolution and Rukshan became a guitarist who played not only Sri Lankan tunes but also Santana as a youngster. His talent playing and singing was soon noticed and paved the way for him to really enter the local music scene.  He joined the Golden Chimes with Lankika Perera and Anil Bharati and later the Super Golden Chimes with Clarence Wijewardene and Annesley Malewana (two giants of the Sinahala music arena) while still schooling at Royal College. After this he played for a few bands in Asia and Europe before settling down in the US.

Rukshan has played guitar, keyboards and handled English and Sinhala vocals simultaneously as the occasion demanded when playing with these bands.

This versatile and talented musican/composer plays and sings across a wide spectrum of genres including pop, jazz, blues and fusion.  He finds jazz to be the most challenging genre and loves scatting in jazz. (Scatting is to improvise on a song).  He is a great fan of George Benson who is famous for ‘scatting ‘on vocals and guitar. Rukshan himself is often found ‘scatting’ at Colombo’s Jazz Unlimited sessions.

Rukshan’s acapella arrangements are very popular and the one he has done as a tribute to the late Clarence Wijewardene has a unique feature. At the end, two songs are sung simultaneously.

Rukshan was invited to the International Harbour Festival in Denmark to perform the traditional kaffringha music of Sri Lanka along with several bands from other countries that had Portuguese influence.  Rukshan teamed up with Lelum Rathnayake (percussion) and Ruwan Weerasekera (violin) and Rukshan on guitar as Trio Lanka and performed several Kaffringha music pieces while adding some Indian ragas and jazz improvisation to spice up some songs. 

Rukshan Perera is not only a musical genius but he is also a compassionate, caring personality who strives to give back something of what he has got from life and give others a place in the sunshine. The world is certainly a better place for having this unique personality, Rukshan Perera in it.