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Sunil-ThenabaduMariazelle Goonatilleke perhaps is the most sought-after Sri Lankan female vocalist with a melodious voice predominantly on stage in Sri Lanka pop having emerged over four decades ago since been in the limelight to date. She is a steadfast Christian very much into religion who is committed to God as her closest comrade and savior. Mariazelle had quipped that her audience is predominantly God.She has successfully survived in the music industry as a vocalist cum instrumentalist with precision in keyboard and guitar. To date she sustains her stardom unblemished persisting her singing dexterity vibrant as was Mariazelle who was instrumental in attracting knowledgeable western audiences into listening to Sinhala ‘baila’ melodies with a huge volume of discipline over three decades ago,. 

Mariazelle had studied western classical guitar under ‘guru’ Winston Jayawardena while voice trained under Estelle Deniese.The feel she possessed in her voice cum dress sense admired by her flamboyant appearance on stage had facilitated her immensely to be hurled into stardom. 

The ”Kandy Lamissi” song included in her nonstop cassette in year 1977 consisted of party time music,Music fans begun to call her “Kandy Lamissi” the lyric of which were penned by Asith Chandrasena while the melody was an English tune.She had quipped the title was okay as it was a ‘popular punch’. Mariazelle was during that era termed as the “queen of Sinhala pop”. She had quipped that she is concerned about the lyrics of the songs she selects to sing barring with slanderous, political, and nasty words, of course she did not mind lyrics containing humorous content. 

The era between 1977 and early 1980’s when most vocalists released EP’s and cassettes that she too had released six EP’s and around forty cassettes mostly party time non stop type.Her popular songs like “Rahase”,”Sonduru Jeeve”, “Yovun Sina” were her songs that were her major triumphs.   

There was a spell in Sri Lanka when the music industry and entertainment was at peak ,hard to beat as life then was very smooth people were not known then to be engaged in the rat race existing in this era.The great showman was late Donovan Andree named as the “Entrepreneur of Entertainment”. later his son Malcolm Andree who organized musical shows titled “Edged in Gold” “ Blast Thru” in abundance featuring a galaxy of stars at many popular venues like Liberty Ballroom of Holiday Inn ( one of the most coveted venues), Taj of Exotia.Eden Restaurant Spa,Riverine,Tangerine Beach Hotel, Cinnamon Lodge, BMICH etc.There were willing media sponsors  to boost these shows like the ‘Sunday Observer”,”Daily News”,”SLRC” and “SLBC”.With Mariazelle were Corinne, Sohan, Ronnie, Annesley, Indrani,Maxi Rosairo.Antoinette.Angeline,Anil,Lankika, Jean.,Chanaka and a host of others incluging guest artistes Mignonne and Noeline.It need to be emphasized that the father and son Andree duo had invited many internationally famed singers which made the musical shows more trendy.The musicians who backed up were all from the cream, by all competent musicians v.i.z., Niresh Perera on drums, Manoj Pieirs on tabla bongos,congas,Mahinda Bandara on lead guitar, Milton Peris on rhythm guitar,Tilak Dias on bass,Jayantha Dissanayake on saxophone,Suresh Maliyadde on keyboards and Kumudu Madawaththa on percussion. 

Mariazelle has lately recorded a song with Bathiya and Santhush titled “Sita Handuwawe” which is a song in a form of expression done in three languages, rap content in English,verses in Sinhalese and Tamil while chorus in English for a multi ethnic audience. 

Mariazelle believes the music is evolving hence change is inevitable as seen in the new generation with good musicians.She had sung the song “Kandukaraye Seethale” the Sinhalese adaptation of the song “By the rivers of Babylon’ quoting this as  a good example of a talented musician deploying modern technology.It is emphasized that with a person who could not sing well could be made a singer using technology using the pitch-corrector. 

Mariazelle Goonatilleke was born in Nugegoda had begun her music career at the tender age of only seven without any hereditary affiliations but purely with innate singing skills..But when at just ten years she as adjudged as the winner of the junior segment in Ceylon Observer all island talent competition, which paved the way for her to join a teen -group of popular young musicians the “ Junior Rhythmiers”.The group became very popular in the decade of 1960 ‘s when featured on Radio Ceylon the oldest radio station in the entire Asia which reigned the ’airwaves’ during the decades of 1950’ and 1960’s.This exposure hence was boost to any novice artiste. Prior to becoming a household name with “Kandy Lamissi” in 1977 Mariyazelle had joined with bands like the “Emeralds and Midnight Mist”. 

After her triumph with “Kandy Lamissi” she was invited to perform in hotels in Kathmandu and Nepal.Later she had travelled widely to many western countries like UK,USA. Canada, thereafter to UAE, Singapore and all states in Australia etc.She is famous among many ethnicities as she could converse in all three languages .  

She had song many songs that were hits including a duet with Baila Chakrawarti MS Fernando “ Nelum Male Pethi Kadala Oruwa Sadala” and the solo “Sihina Nelum Mal” which was a song she had told lyric writer Ajantha Ranasinghe to write after the birth of her son Teshan .He is now after completing his higher studies married and domiciled In UK.This song is so popular among all audiences is sure to an everlasting hit,It is pertinent to state that Mariazelle had received enormous backing from legends like Clarence Wijewardena,MS Fernando,Sunil and Piyal etc throughout her career.Her popularity even today  remains unblemished at stardom  been invited frequently to indoor musical shows, weddings,hotels and many television channels. 

Mariazelle’s singing career is still unblemished at the pinnacle of fame though it is well over four decades in existence.All her fans would no doubt wish her strength, good health ,longevity to continue in the same vein delighting them . 

Sunil Thenabadu

e mail sthenabadu@

  whatsApp 0061444533242 

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