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Shiromie Fernando

shiromie fernando

Genre       : Sinhala pop

Shiromi is the only child of Stanley and Sweetie Fernando. Young Shiromi lost her father when she was five years old and grew up with her loving mother, grandmother Stella and her mother’s four brothers Christie, Maxwell, Melroy and Ronald who later became popular as the “Dharmaratne Brothers”. Growing up in a musical family she showed interest and talent in singing and dancing from a very young age.  Born on 21st May 1960 in Colombo, Shiromi studied at Good Shepherd Convent Kotahena.

Aged 6, she had her first public performance as a singer at “Asiri Kusum” held at St. Bridget’s Convent, Colombo 7, organized by Maxwell Dharamartne together with Noel Ranasinghe of “La Ceylonians”. Most of the Sinhala harmony groups participated at the show and the only solo artist was Baby Shiromi. She was very small and had to stand on a step stool to reach the microphone.

Realizing the natural talent in Shiromi, her mother, grandmother and uncle Melroy were trying their best to record at least one of her songs, but all attempts seemed fruitless.

Melroy contacted Patrick Corera: owner of Gowri Corporation agent for the Phillips label. He took her to R. A. Chandrasena music director of Sarasavi Studio Dalugama to test her voice. Partick Corera and Chandrasena both agreed Shiromi had talent, however felt that she needed more experience to be a recording artiste. Melroy then took her to Gerald Wickremesooriya of Sooriya label who was also not fully convinced to do a recording at the time.

Debut

In 1970, Elmo Fernando, a broadcaster/program producer at Radio Ceylon suggested to Shiromi’s mother to send Shiromi’s application for the children’s program, which eventually resulted in getting a recording on a program called “Handa Mama” conducted by Lambert Pemmawadu.

“Shiromi” by Seedevi, Vanitha Viththi, February 22, 1971

It was there that Shiromi first recorded the song “Konda Namagena”. The song became an instant hit and was played on all children’s programs in a matter of weeks and was thereafter introduced to the musical program called “Geetha Dahara” (Hit Parade in Sinhala music).

Convinced of Shiromi’s talent and potential, Gerald invited Shiromi to record on the Sooriya label in 1971. Shiromi’s debut album was titled ‘Konda Namagena’ and included four songs “Konda Namagena”, “Amma”, “Sakala Bujang” and “Handahami”. More than 5000 records of this EP were sold within three to four months and Shiromi became a big star in the Sri Lankan music scene.

Recording of “Konda Namagena” at Sarasaviya Studio, March 17, 1971 L to R: Gerald, Shiromie, Dulcie

Popular as “Baby Shiromie”, she performed all over Sri Lanka at various concert halls and venues during this period and set the trend for pre-teen girls to enter the Sinhala pop singing arena.

She was almost always seen at popular Sooriya live Shows and also featured on the Sooriya Radio Show.

“Big future for Sinhala pop” by Gaston, February 13, 1972
Dinamina, April 21, 1971
Performing at the Sooriya show at Navaragahala, July 15, 1973

Journey

Shiromie went on to record two more EP’s on the Sooriya label; ‘Baby Shiromi Does It Again’ in 1971 followed by ‘Meet Shiromi – Quite a lady now’ in 1973. Lyrics, melody and music direction for all these songs were by her uncle Melroy Dharmaratne. She also recorded the song “Boruwata Anda Anda” a duet with her uncle Maxwell for an album by Dharmaratne Brothers again on the Sooriya label.

Shiromie at Gerald’s residence, 1971
Chula, Shirley and Shirmie performing “Koheda Yanne Rukmani” backed by The Dharmaratne Brothers at the Sooriya show at Navaragahala, December 17, 1972

Shiromie recorded four songs on the New Sound label: “Balana Balana Kale”, “Rajakama”, “Sudu Akke” and “Dear Sweety”, four songs for the Stella label: “Jesu Baba”, “Atheethayay”, “Kiththa Panaththa” and “Mama”. The song “Mama” was the first Tamil song recorded by her written by N. Shanmugalingam.

Two songs “Andanna Epa” and “Mang Samanalayek Wela” by Shiromie were recorded on the Silverline label for their inaugural EP record with the balance two songs by Milton Mallawarachchi.

The song “Andanna Epa” was written by Melroy dedicated to Shiromie’s friend dying of leukemia. The lyrics read a girl pleading with her mother not to shed tears as her days were numbered. Driven by fears that Shiromie was suffering from the deadly sickness, Shiromie’s house was crowded by fans shedding tears.

Impressed by Shiromie’s talents displayed during a dancing competition which she won at St. Benedict’s College annual carnival, a renowned film choreographer introduced her to Rajab Ali: a film producer of the time. Shiromie’s first film was “Mahadena Muttha” by Robin Tampoe and the second was “Sudu Duwa” by Lenin Moraes and Raja Bali. The third was “Pancha” by Wincent David and Andrew Mutthaiya of S.P.M. Studios where she acted as a five year old boy.

Shiromie also sang for 3 films: “Mame Kiyannako” for the film ‘Hondata Hondai’ by J. Selvaratnam with music direction by K. Roksamy, “Akase Ras Vihida” including a cameo appearance for the film ‘Adare Hithanawa Dekkama’ by Niel Rupasinghe with music direction by P.L.A. Somapala, “Hima Kande Manamali” a duet with Lilanthi Karunanayake for the film ‘Sikuruliya’ by H.D. Premaratne with music direction by Clarence Wijewardena.

Sunil Welikala from Mt. Lavinia was a big fan of baby Shiromie’s talented voice from college days. Having decided to trace her, Sunil finally succeeded in meeting Shiromie at her residence. He proposed a fan club for Shiromie: “Shiromi’s Fan Club”

As times passed by, Sunil proposed to Shiromie which was supported by her uncles and eventually married her. In 1987, they migrated to Canada with their two children; a daughter and a son. Shiromie studied and graduated from the Newborough Montessori College in Canada and worked as a Montessori teacher at Kennedy Montessori Private School enjoying her time with pre-school children.

In 2003 Shiromi lost her husband to cancer and presently lives in Markham, Ontario, Canada.

Shiromie appeared back on stage in celebration of ‘Dharmaratne Brothers 40 years in music’ held at Elphinstone Theatre, Maradana on 27th December 2008. During the performance, Shiromie’s daughter Hashani and Maxwell’s daughter Nelum joined with Shiromie.

Shiromie’s songs remain evergreen children’s songs in Sri Lanka and she truly deserves the title “child star prodigy”.

Baby Shiromi – a scene from the film “Pancha”

ALBUMS

Meet Shiromi - Quite a Lady Now (Kawda Kawda Shiromi)
Shriomi Fernando - Baby Star
Baby Shiromi does it again
The Dharmaratne Brothers with Shiromi
The Sooriya Show
The Sooriya Show : Vol 2
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