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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Sinhala vocal groups launched by Patrick

During the good old sixties music lovers were always glued to their radios listening to the music aired by the Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)


Raymond Fonseka, Roy Fonseka and Nihal Perera - the trio comprising the 'Samanalayos' sang for the first EP record produced by Patrick Corera in 1967.

Those who could afford enjoyed the privilege of listening to EPs (Extended Playing) and LPs (Long Playing) records of popular singers such as Jim Reeves, Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard on their radiograms or record players at home.

It was only in the late sixties that songs sung by groups in a calypso rhythm began to gain popularity.

Credit should go to Joseph Vincent Patrick Corera, for pioneering group vocals which was recorded then on the Philips label. It was during this time in 1960 that Patrick after he completed his studies at Aquinas College and a brief stay at a Seminary decided to work at the Gowri Corporation Record Centre owned by his father, who held the franchise to import Philips Records to Sri Lanka which included not only English but also Hindi and Tamil records. Cargills and Lewis Browns then were the only other corporate institutions to be involved in the record business. Raymond Fonseka formed a trio with his brother Roy and cousin Nihal Perera. The trio was named "Samanalayo" the first vocal group to use a Sinhala name.

In 1967 they recorded four songs, "Nalavena Mavu Ukule", "Natum Guruwari", "Paddemi Oruwe" and "Handa Eliye" at the Lewis Browns Recording Studio, McCallum Road and sent the tracks for pressing to Singapore. Tony Fernando did the recording and the first Philips group vocal E.P. came out as JVPC-1001.

JVPC stood for the producer's name - Joseph Vincent Patrick Corera.Later on, all recordings were done at Sarasavi Studio, Kelaniya under the leadership of veteran sound engineer Mervin Rodrigo. Patrick presented a copy of this record to the Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and agreed for broadcast without a payment. The song "Nalavena Mavu Ukule" became a top hit for generations, to come.

During this period Noel Brian Ranasinghe, leader of the "La Ceylonians" formed a Group Band Association called "Songs of Lanka Club". The Club arranged a Musical Show in aid of the Elders' Home, Kegalle, with the free participation of all groups. Patrick was invited by Noel Ranasinghe for this show, themed "Asiri Kusum" organized by Maxwell Dharmaratne at St. Bridget's Convent.

Over a dozen groups performed in this Fiesta. Patrick was given permission by the Dharmaratne Brothers to tape this event. This became a great opportunity for Patrick to meet all musicians in Sri Lanka and Dharmaratne Brothers were called first for a recording but Melroy Dharmaratne gave the opportunity to the "La Ceylonians" and "Moonstones". Later on Patrick offered recordings to every group who performed at this event. In 1968 La Ceylonians led by Noel Ranasinghe produced two EP. records JVPC-1002 & JVPC-1003, with the songs "Tharuna Jeevithe", "Hoiya Hoiya", "Dahaduka Vindala", "Hudakalawa". Milton Mallawaarachchi was a member of this group. These two records overtook the earlier one.

The Moonstones led by Clarence Wijewardene with Annesley Malawana, Mangala Rodrigo and Upali Obeysekera took recorded "Mango Nanda", "Ruwanpuraya", "Menike Sudu Menike" and "Seetha Udey Pipi Mal", and this record made the group popular instantly.

The Dharmaratne Brothers led by Melroy Dharmaratne came into the limelight with "Vassa Wahinawa", "Punchi Hurathala", "Kandukare" and "Nondi Kira". They earned popularity, and later enhanced their popularity with their niece Baby Shiromi.

Patrick produced E.P. records for many local bands and among them were Samanalayo, La Ceylonians, Moonstones, Dharmaratne Brothers, Los Cabelleros, Los Flamencos, Labambas, Humming Birds, Meemasso including solo artistes Victor Ratnayake, M. S. Fernando, H. R. Jothipala, Milton Mallawaarachchi, Anton Jones, Freddie Silva, Nihal Nelson and Anton Rodrigo among them.

"Patrick had a true artistic heart and helped many musicians and friends. He never sought money and fame. He was a thorough gentleman and a kind and loveable character filled with human qualities. He was highly respected by all musicians. His friends appreciated Patrick for his excellent and simple qualities" said Melroy Dharmaratne.

- Malcolm Vindurampulle

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