K. J. Yesudas
Award Name : Padma Vibhushan
Year of Award : 2017
Award for : Music
Location : Fort Kochi, Kerala, India
Dr. K. J. Yesudas is one of the famous Indian classical musicians as well as a renowned playback singer. He was born on 10 January 1940 in Fort Kochi, Kingdom of Cochin. His father was Augustine Joseph Bhagavathar, while his mother was Elizabeth Joseph. Yesudas started to receive training in Carnatic music at a very young age. His first Guru was his father Augustine Joseph Bhagavathar, a well-known theatre artist and a classical singer. After that, he joined the R.L.V. Music Academy in Thrippunithura for training. He later went to the Sree Swathithirunal Music Academy for higher studies. One of the most senior and respected performers of Kerala, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar trained him in classical music. Yesudas won a gold medal at the age of seven at a local music competition in Kochi. He has recorded in many languages that include Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Gujarati, Oriya, Marathi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tulu, Russian, Arabic, Latin and English.
In the Middle East, Yesudas presented Arabic songs in Carnatic style. He also played a very important role in promoting Indian music in foreign countries by giving many performances. He began his career as a playback singer from the Malayalam movie 'Kaalpadukal'. In mid-1970, Yesudas started playback singing in the Bollywood. His first Hindi movie was 'Chhoti Si Baat'. But, he gave his voice first for the movie 'Jai Jawan Jai Kisan' (1971). He also gave his voice for many leading actors in Hindi cinema including Amol Palekar, Amitabh Bachchan and Jeetendra. In 2001, he sang for 'Ahimsa', an album in Sanskrit, Latin and English mixed with New Age and Carnatic music. His songs stand out not just for the melody but also for the versatility and style. Though Yesudas is an expert in Carnatic music, he also learnt classical music as he did not wanted to limit himself to only Carnatic music.
Yesudas has won the National Award for the Best Male Playback Singer seven times, 5 Filmfare Awards and the State Award for the Best Playback Singer 43 times, which consists of awards by the state governments of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and West Bengal. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1975, the Padma Bhushan in 2002 and Padma Vibhushan in 2017 by the Government of India for his contributions towards the arts. In 2011 Yesudas was honoured with the CNN-IBNoutstanding achievement award having recorded over 20,000 songs in a five-decade career. In 2006, he sang 16 film songs in four South Indian languages on the same day at AVM Studio, Chennai.