Chandral Fonseka leading vocalist


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Chandral Fonseka with late Clarence Wijewardene and 'The Super Golden Chimes' in 1978.

by Kalinga Weerakkody
Chandral Fonseka is a bass guitarist and a leading vocalist in the Sinhala pop and western music scenes.

He is also a harmony singer and a back up artiste to many leading vocalists including earlier to the late and great Clarence Wijewardena.

He was born on March 30, 1955 in Moratuwa, the third child of a Christian family with two elder sisters and a younger brother.

He is well known for his warm hearted qualities and for his willingness to help newcomers to the local music scene.

Apart from his busy schedule as a musician he is also well read as his hobbies include reading English novels and autobiographies of well known world personalities which he had admired from his student days at St. Sebastian’s College. As an animal lover he is currently involved in Pigeon breeding.

In 1972 he joined the "Pink N’ Purple" band as a professional rhythm guitarist led by Lincoln de Silva and later Ivan de Silva which performed at the Galle Face Hotel, Mascarilla night club and Coconut Grove and later the at Bentota Beach Hotel till 1974.

He later joined the "Pioneers" led by Raj Dassanayake at "Akasa Kade" in Ceylinco for a very short period as a standby bassist from 1974 to 1975.

From 1975 to 1977 he played as a bass guitarist when he joined "Antionette and Gaylords" led by Antionette and Lucky de Alwis, a group which performed at the Blue Horizen night club in Holiday Inn.

Recalling the golden years of his past he said one of the milestones of his professional career was when he joined ‘The Super Golden Chimes’ the last band to be formed by the late Clarence Wijewardena in 1971, who introduced "pop rhythm and beat" to the local music scene and managed by Nelu Fernando. Chandral joined the band as a bass guitarist and performed all over Sri Lanka including Jaffna from 1977 to about 1980.

During this time he also played bass for many artistes in their recordings such as Shayami Fonseka, Milton Mallawarachchi, Priya Suriyasena, Annesley Malawana, Latha Walpola, Indrani Perera, Angeline Gunatilake, H. R. Jothipala, Mervin Mihindukula and Mariazelle Gunathileke.

When Clarence Wijewardena left the band to pursue solo carrier, Chandral became the unofficial band leader and composed and directed 32 songs for Annesley Malawana and also composed and directed music for the X’Periments, the late M. S. Fernando, late Freddie Silva (new music arrangements), Paul Fernando, Antionette de Alwis, Randy de Hoedt and Anil Bharathie.

To mention few of his music directions they were:- Annesley - Kiyabhu Lathe, Tharuna jeevithe, gehaniya (woman), Freddie:- Lagadi-Magadi, Samoopakaraya (Cooperative), Paul :- Demapiyan kiyana nisa, Anil ;- Punchi lihiniye and Kakulu nangiye, Mariyazelle:- Oba labaganna. Chandralal is famous for also singing English numbers of when in "Super Golden Chimes" he sang three English numbers one composed by himself namely "Give me one more chance to love you".

From 1980 to 1981 he played in the "Serendib" under the leadership of Indra Raj (Jetliners fame). The other band members were Raj Seneviratne, Hassan Musafer and Rukshan Perera. They performed in Europe mainly in Switzerland and Germany. In the same era he formed a band named "Super" which he deserted within a very short period in 1982 due to misunderstanding among members.

The founder members of the band were Shiran Munasinghe on drums (Aquarius) Ranil Vas (guitar) and Melantha Perera (keyboards) (Ex "Jade" now "Miraj") . In 1983 to 1984 they performed at the Blue Leopard night club at the Hotel Taprobane backing Dalreen Suby.

At the start the band was called "Champagne" but later called "The Kings" as that name was restricted to be used in Europe as there was an International band by the same name at that time. From 1984 to 87 they performed in Europe mainly in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Finland.

They returned to Sri Lanka in 1987 and started to perform at the ‘Little Hut’ at the Mt. Lavinia Hotel. The band during its 10 year period spent eight years in performing there point. ‘The Kings Band’ he formed in 1983 was rated as the most popular group in 1990 and 1991 in ‘The Island’s music awards.

In 1992 the band went back to Europe for one year and returned in the same year before its split on January 1st 1993. During the 10 years of the band only three musicians changed. Melantha Perera was replaced twice by Geeth Mihiripenna and Arith Ratnawibhushana. Ranil Vass was replaced by Aruna Liyanage. Sonali Suriyagoda joined it in 1989 as their female vocalist.

After the split of the Kings, Chandral opened a recording studio with Arith Ratnawibhushana and Nihar Hamid of "Friends". During this time he managed to write, arrange, sing, produce and record his own CD and cassette called " Deneth kone".

He also displayed his talent as a sound engineer by sound mixing for big shows especially "Show Boat Karaoke" championship.

When asked whether one can expect a reunion of the band? Chandral said that he would look forward to form the ‘Kings’ again with one of the founder members Ranil Vaas. Shaheed Buksh (Rafi) from Kandy will be joining him as the keyboard player.

Chandral said that currently he is looking for a new female vocalist.

In conclusion Chandral said that of his contemporaries he admires the singing styles of the late, Clarence Wijewardena, Milton Mallawarachchi, Sunil Perera and Mervyn Mihidukula.

He especially thanked the late Clarence Wijewardena for giving him a chance to work with him and learn many things as a music director.

We wish music maestro Chandral all the best in his future endeavours and also long life to perform in the local music scene.