මොරටු පුරේ – බයිලා ස්වරේ
Medawala Hewage Paul Fernando loved music since childhood. Inspired by M.S. Fernando’s Baila songs, Paul used to entertain school friends with Baila. At 18, he became the best singer at “Talent Search ‘69” where he performed M.S. Fernando’s song “Asoka Mal Mala Nelala”.
The budding talent of young Paul was spotted by Priya Peiris of La Bambas, who later composed most of Paul’s songs. Priya quickly brought Paul to the attention of Vijaya Corea of Radio Ceylon. Vijaya, who was always scouting for talent, requested Priya to bring the talented boy from Moratuwa to his residence.
Priya accompanied Paul to meet Vijaya, along with Priya’s friend Paul Perera.
Priya fondly recalls their journey to Vijaya’s residence in a double decker bus during a heavy downpour. On this memorable day, the Guitars were doubled up as umbrellas as they trod from the bus stop to Vijaya’s house.
Paul chose the song “Mala”; a song written by Priya for his audition. Vijaya was captivated by Paul’s performance style including his rhythmic walking along the length of the verandah and decided to promote Paul on his popular ‘Zeller’s Go-Go’ Show.
Compered by Vijaya Corea, the ‘Zellers Go-Go’ Show was recorded at Akasa Kade of Ceylinco Towers: a popular hangout location at that time. Each show was aired on Radio a week after it was recorded.
Priya formed an impromptu band with a few members of La Bambas to back Paul for this recording. Priya and Vijaya also invited Gerald Wickremesooriya of Sooriya to watch the show, with the intention of further promoting Paul’s career.
An impressed Gerald requested Priya to bring Paul to his residence for an audition. He eventually offered Paul a recording on the Sooriya label in 1970. Paul was thrilled and has always thankful to Priya for his support.
Paul’s debut on the Sooriya label included the evergreen song “Mala” and his growing fame subsequently earned him the title ‘Prince of Baila’.
The ‘Prince of Baila’ also recorded a melodious light classical song “Egoda Gode” on the Sooriya label with music direction by Melroy Dharmarathne.