Mariazelle began her incredible musical journey at a very young age and continues to tap into the hearts and souls of the young and old alike. Her bubbly voice, unique style and energy that exuded during her performances makes her one of the most sought-out performers in Sri Lanka today.
Everything Mariazelle ever needed, originated from within and as a result, she made a head start. A seven year old Mariazelle sang at house parties and by age ten, went on to win the “Observer Talent Search – Junior Section” title which was a turning point in her life. Little Mariazelle got together a group and formed a band called ‘Junior Rhythmiers’. Soon, this band of music makers were known by everyone who tuned into Radio Ceylon.
She learnt the basics of the guitar from late Winston Jayawardena and it didn’t take her long to play her own guitar and use it to fuel her passion.
There is not a single Mariazelle Gunathilaka song that a local will not sing along to. The bands, ‘The Emeralds’ and ‘Midnight Mist’ helped Mariazelle take her career to the next level. In 1977, she was able to make a difference; a difference that would make any Sri Lankan’s face light up with joy. ‘Kandy Lamissi’, her first ever single, stole the hearts of the locals and expats alike.
In an age lacking female Baila singers, Mariazelle set an example. She was an inspiration to many, and a role model in how her determination made her mark in a field that was mostly dominated by men.
Her work with Sri Lankan music titans such as the father of Sri Lankan pop music; Clarence Wijewardana, The Gypsies, M.S. Fernando and Annesley Malawana have resulted in many songs that made a mark in the history of music in Sri Lanka.
Since then, her fans refer to her as ‘Kandy Lamissi’ and she had just begun her journey as the ‘Queen of Baila’
“Rahasai Sonduru Jeeve”, “Yowun Sihina Loke”, “Oba Laba Ganna Oba Hata” and “Gayu Gee” were only a few of the ‘Kandi Lamissi’s songs. She shines bright in the Sri Lankan music industry due to her ability to sing a range of genres, from Western pop to Sri Lankan Baila.
Mariazelle didn’t let her music stay trapped in the island. In 1983, she broadened her scope and allowed her music to reach far and wide, across continents with her band, ‘The Kings’ by her side.
The journey of the ‘Kandy Lamissi’ was tough; a tragic accident caused major damages to the icon’s spine and collar bone but it didn’t stop this star from doing what she loved. She topped her career for decades and her music will continue to resonate in the hearts of all who love Sri Lankan Pop.
WRITTEN BY RUVINDI THAMASHI
EDITED BY NADEESHA PAULIS