Voice which enlightened hearts.
“Sada wathurak se meth somi gunena – Divi mathurak se thuda thuda radana”, it is a melodious tone which renders hearts. Now there need not be any introduction who that person is. Songs such as “Pawanata Salena”, “Siyak Aayu Laba”, “Aduru Kutiya Thula” and with many other songs the person who achieved an immense popularity is Tennakone Mudiyanselage Jayarathna, which also as you and I may know is T.M. Jayarathna.
In the month of April on the days of Sinhala Hindu New Year through the beatings of drums there were chuckles of a baby. That was in year 1944 April 13th. It was in the village Dodanwala in Kandy. T.M was born on that day fulfilling the parental dreams of his mother Subasingha Arachchilage Mary Nona and his father Tennakon Mudiyanselage Tikiri Banda.
He was born as the eldest in a family of eight children and he was not born with a silver spoon in his hand. Therefore his playful childhood was a teary, sorrowful, and was filled with hardships. His sister Sajorini had an untimely death without seeing her elder brother’s great singing abilities or his popularity. But T.M arose from these unfortunate situations.
He first entered Dodanwala Secondary school for his education and then T.M entered St. Anthony’s College Katugasthota and thereafter he went to Maliyadeva College Kurunegala to complete his school education. Maliyadeva also taught him the beauty of music. His music teacher in Maliyadeva Mr. Samarabandhu Edirimanne identified T.M’s talent and the great interest towards music. To sharpen his ability to a good level there was an immense contribution by the school music instructor/advisor Mr. K.M. Dayapala.
On 7th September in 1966 fulfilling his dreams of becoming a teacher he got his first appointment to Rajagiriya Hewawitharana College in Colombo, that journey even paved his way in finding his life partner, she was a student at that time. Later on as Malini Jayarathna she penned down the beautiful words “Piya senehasata kavi gee liyawuna madi ” and also shared the good and the bad things in life with him by being the second mother to him.
While being a music teacher he also worked as a violin artist, which kept him lively and entertained other than for the money he found from it. His first steps in singing were also laid down through it. He was taken to “ Swara Ranga ” musical show held in Maharagama English Teacher training school by Jayathissa Alahakoon. That journey became a life changing one to T.M in ways which he never thought of. He came forward without any hesitancy to fill the void of a singer being absent. It was because he was very confident with his voice and singing. Unknown to T.M there was a person who in his mind was keenly observing him and his voice in that audience.
It was the musician C.De.S. Kulathilake. In 1956 radio cooperation was established by the then radio department and he was the pioneer of the song collection which came from the research folk music programme and he gave the great opportunity to T.M to sing “ Gaana thel sandun ”. Thereafter T.M with Neela Wickeramasinghe sang “ Daathata walalu ” & “Baeddha wata sudhu mora ”. His lovely voice matched with folk music very beautifully and melodiously.
The great potential in his voice was also identified by Dr. Premasiri Khemadasa around that time and through that T.M got the opportunity to join with Mr. Khemadasa to his “ “Prabudhdha Gee” programme. Through “Prubudhdha Gee ” he was able to present many great songs to his fans. Amongst them was “Anduru Kutiya Thula ”, “ Wav Ismaththe Daagabha ” and many more exceptional songs.
From radio T.M steps on to the movie industry firstly for the composition of Sarath Dasaayake for the movie “Sithijaya ”, but the movie did not achieve a great popularity. The song “ Laahiru Dahasak ” which he sang for the movie “Daasa Nisa” directed by Lester James Peiris achieved an immense popularity among the fans and it was written by Professor Sunil Ariyarathne and music was by Dr. Premasiri Khemadasa. The journey of playback singing then carried on for movies like “ Janaka saha Manju ”, “ Hansa Wilak”, “ Naadayo”, “ Parithyaga ”, “ Wasanthaye Dawasak ” and to many more movies which became very famous and through them he was not only able to fill our ears with good music but also our hearts with lovely tunes. Amongst them there were many exceptional songs such as “Hemin Sare Piya Wida”. He sings “Hemin Sare” with Sunila Abeysekare for the movie “Hansa Wilak” which was written by Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja and composed by Dr. Premasiri Khemadasa.
He was able to leave a golden mark in playback singing. For that he won the best playback singer for a movie in the Presidential Award Ceremony which was first held in the year 1979. He was able to prove that it was not the end but was just the beginning by winning the best playback singer for movies in Presidential awards ceremony in years 1980, 1982, and 1986.
In 1979 he worked with “Sooriya” records for the recordings of “Best of Neela & T.M” and from it the songs such as “Ko Maa Pathu” and “Pawaneta Salena” still has the same popularity among listeners even after many decades.
In 1980 he got the great opportunity to sing in one of the five cassettes released by “ Tharanga ” label and thereafter he worked under many recording labels such as “New Sound ”, “ Sing Lanka ”, “ Gemtone ” and provided his valuable and melodious singing.
The path which T.M came to become an exceptional singer was a great one. But this modest musician was never a person who was overwhelmed by his fame. Just as bamboo trees bend as they grow big, that makes it impossible to put it down by storms. I end this note thinking whether those words will be enough to explain about T.M. Jayarathna the excellent and humble man.