• Last Update 2024-06-13 18:08:00

Sulochana Rajapakshe - An artiste with incredible talents


Negombo known as the “little Rome” as it has gained a name throughout the world for its huge Catholic population, is also the cradle of great artistes like Rukmani Devi, Latha Walpola .Hugo Fernando, Ranjan Ramanayake, so is it for the new generation kindled with great expectations of becoming icons in the music industry.

One such artiste is Sulochana Rajapakshe ,a versatile musician ,composer, director now teaching music (Eastern) at St.Joseph’s College (branch) at Kadol Uyana -Negombo.

Since 2016 he has been working as Recording Engineer of the Marian’s recording studio at Thimbirigaskatuwa and been the visiting trainer at Bolawalana Ave Maria Convent (branch) school Orchestra.

With incredible music talents he has emerged with sensational creations - some hit songs sung by well known artistes in Sri Lanka like Shashika Nisansala,Shanika Madumali. Some of them are:

  1. Ma me kathare-Shashika Nisansala (music)
  2. Mathaka Wessa-Shanika Madumali (music and lyrics)
  3. Kandulu Dawa -Noel Raj (lyrics)
  4. Durin Hinda Ma-Dimanka Wellalage (lyrics)

In his childhood, this versatile musician, composer, director has done music as a subject, and in addition to that, has learnt music under the senior artiste Kanchana Jayasinghe as a key board player. His debut in music was the emerging on the stage as a professional singer and a rhythm guitar player was at the Negombo Professional Music Band.

Sulochana as a vocalist showed his blending voice in songs Awasan Horawa, Maruthe, Nagasalang , and Me Eya in a superb way, not second to anyone.

Excerpts of an interview with Sulochana

Since when did you start showing interest in music?

Better to say that I realized the only thing I had to do to survive was music than saying I was interested in music. When I was seen beating anything like a bucket, a tin I had with, my father realized he should make me one to beat. He got a friend make me a drum, so the only music instrument I had was the drum. Later with an organ given by a relative, I showed all my colours. Kanchana Jayasinghe playing on Derana Dream star was my music teacher. Afterwards I joined the church choir and played the church organ for many years. It was the church that cast away my stage fear. Church was a fine stage for me. Later I joined the famous bands as a key board player, guitar player and a vocalist .The experience I had at church helped me great deal to carry on further my work in all my capacities as a director, composer, singer and a player. One day my father took me to see a musical show of Nalin Perera’s ‘Anthony’s Night’ staged at our village. I never thought that one day I would be able to work with them. They may have influenced me much to be such a music lover.

Who gave you a helping hand?

At the top of the list are my parents. Of them now I have only my father. Mother Lucy Almeida and father Sunil Rajapakshe. They took much pain to teach my brother and me. Not even a book is sufficient to tell it. At present my wife and a few close friends have been behind me to bring me to this present state. All my music teachers also should be remembered .I take this opportunity to thank all the teachers at St. Peter’s College at Negombo as well as outside. For how many songs have you produced music? There are numerous as your hair on head. It’s a joy to see that among them there are certain numbers people love very much. The latest was the song ‘Ma Me Kathare’ I did for Shasika Nisansala.

Are there any achievements at your school?

I’m working at St. Joseph’s College at Kadol Uyana and training the Negombo Bolawlana Ave Maria Convent Branch School Orchestra .We have won the first place at all Island level in playing the guitar and have other winnings at Zonal level. What is the place for music In Sri Lanka? In the past, too there were many eminent musicians but now it has changed. An important and prestigious place is now being given to music as never before. It is quite good that an artiste gets about 2 or 3 lakhs today to sing two or three songs on a stage. I think we have been valued at last. But some artistes have underscored themselves to the level of a bottle. A person who has taken to music has many ways open to go ahead. While gaining a spiritual enjoyment and enjoying life, an artiste can now earn quite a good amount. It may be better in the future too. However still we are not firm enough to advise a child to do a job as a musician. Instead, we may ask them to do music while doing a job. Everyone in the society can’t sing or play. Some are born to do it. They should be given a proper place. In the social media it is swinging, both ways as a quality production is underscored another poor quality one gets more view counts.

What type of song should be created?

 Still we talk about the good quality of our old songs. Even at that time, there were some people who criticized them. As the society changes the nature of songs too changes. Today the majority of people have no time to get aside and relax. Therefore songs with themes easily understood, have become very popular. Artistes expecting to be popular are producing such songs. Also I should say different types of songs catering to the taste of each have to be produced. It is being done through artistes. But if they are made subject to certain regulations as adopted by the SLBC earlier then within 10 years time there will be a good audience willing to listen to good high quality songs.

Who is the artiste you like most?

Even today I’m mad of music by Yanni. He changed the world’s music. Yanni is the bridge that links the Old Symphony Orchestra and the Modern Music. In those creative works, I hear a mixture of all the music in the world.

What is the present sutuation of your pupils who learn music under you?

When my pupils see me produce new songs, sing with artistes, work as a sound controlling engineer, create new songs with the help of computer they see me more than just a singer or a music teacher. Most of my pupils like to follow me. As they see in me a different character distiguished from the traditional music teacher ,they too are now engaged in sound controlling, having their own studios etc. There are some pupils now playing in popular bands. At my school I have created new songs. When I see my pupils who were in my songs are now singing in bands I have no words to express my joy. This is the 12th year in my teaching career working at 2 schools .Now my pupils are in good positions. Though teachers say pupils go ahead of teachers I dont agree with it beacuse a teacher also should adjust to the need of the changing world and go ahead.

A teacher should always be seen as a teacher. Is there anyone who has financially helped you?

The only thing we didn’t have was MONEY. When I was in Grade 8 I gave tuition to a grade 4 girl and started earning money. I have earned money by clearing gardens. Even at AL classes, teachers gave money to buy my needs. I don’t want to reveal their names .I love them even today. There are neighbours who cared me well. I never forget my roots.

Final question; How has the Catholic Church helped you?

Though there is no special help, I can never forget the church. I didnt have an organ at home but I used to go to church and practise hymns for the Sunday Mass there. I m very grateful to those priests who allowed me to see it at any time.

By K.L. Richard Walter Perera

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