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Vijaya Corea

Dr. Vijaya Corea was born to Dr. C.V.S. Corea and Mrs. Amybelle Corea and grew up in the background of classical music from the likes of Mozart, Chopin and Beethoven. Vijaya Corea would later on in his career become the “Godfather of Sinhala Pop”, a pioneering broadcaster at Radio Ceylon and the English Service, as well as being Sri Lanka’s most wanted compere. Further on in his eclectic career, he also became the Director General of Broadcasting at the SLBC.

After completing his studies at St Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia, Vijaya began to pursue a career in Chartered Accountancy. However when one day he casually went to visit his cousin Vernon Corea at Radio Ceylon, he got an opportunity to stand in for an announcer on a show called ‘Kiddies Corner’ marking the beginning of an illustrious career in broadcasting and music.

Debut

After this initial opportunity, Vijaya took a great liking to this occupation and went to formally apply as a Relief Announcer at Radio Ceylon for which he eventually got selected. Once established on air, Vijaya proved to be a natural and soon became one of the most sought after and one of the most creative commercial broadcasters. Vijaya eventually gave up his career in Accountancy and pursued a professional broadcasting career.

Journey

Vijaya’s creativity and enthusiasm led him to fashion new spots and slots in Radio Ceylon’s programming for shows like ‘Saturday Star’ and ‘The Sound Of the 60’s’ as well as ‘Lanka’s Talent in Focus’ which became instant hits with listeners. These pioneering programs played an invaluable and instrumental role in the establishment of the pop trend and the promotion of what is known today as ‘Sinhala pop’.

Groups like The Moonstones, The Dharmaratne Brothers, Los Flamencos, Los Cabelleros and the likes of that era owe their discovery, initial exposure and success to Vijaya Corea. It would not be an understatement to call him “The Godfather of Sinhala Pop”. Many musicians of that era owe their popularity and recording deals to Vijaya.

“The Man with a Golden Voice”, Sun, March 29, 1970
“Starmaker Vijaya” by Kumar Singha

Back in 1969, Vijaya was contacted by Gerald of The Children’s Bookshop, with regard to producing music on Gerald’s newly established record label ‘Sooriya’. The first release by Sooriya records was sent hot off the press to Vijaya Corea to be premiered on air, marking the beginning of a friendship and professional bond that would last for a lifetime. CHB001 became an instant hit and Vijaya and Gerald partnered many a time to find new talent and create mega hits.

Vijaya Corea with Dulcie and Gerald Wickremesooriya

This partnership blossomed further when Gerald decided that Sooriya would be the first ever label in Sri Lankan music history to have its own sponsored radio program: “The Sooriya Show”. Scripted by Gerald and hosted by Vijaya, this weekly 15 minute show became an instant hit with many a household tuning into the English service of Radio Ceylon every Thursday at 9.45pm. Vijaya was the obvious choice to host the series of live Sooriya Shows held across the country. Gerald often said that without Vijaya Corea, Sooriya the record label would never have been possible.

Sooriya show at Navaragahala, July 30, 1971 L to R: Mrs. Vijaya Corea, Vijaya Corea's Mother and Stanley Tilakaratne's family, Dorothy Vairavanathan of Thunderflash Advertising agency, HP Jayawardena Principal of Royal Junior School
Vijaya Corea compering at Sooriya Show at Navaragahala, July 30, 1971

Vijaya’s career moved from a budding chartered accountant, to Relief Announcer to most sought after compere to promoter of young talent to Director General of CBC/SLBC, yet Vijaya didn’t stay limited to radio and show host. He was also Sri Lanka’s first ever Television Announcer, an actor in films, a music producer, the owner of the ‘Victory’ music label and even sang harmony on some of the ‘The Super Golden Chimes’ songs. Further on, he founded a Media & Advertising firm called Media 9 and was also awarded a Doctorate in Theology from International Baptist College.

Vijaya Corea awarded in recognition of his significant and major contribution to Media, 2008

Having miraculously overcome cancer, Vijaya focused his time and energy on the spiritual side of life and found new light and became a pastor. Having celebrated his golden jubilee in media in 2014, Dr. Vijaya Corea is still far from retirement.

Vijaya Corea lighting the oil lamp at The Golden Chimes 30th Anniversary Show, 2000
felicitating Lankika at The Golden Chimes 30th Anniversary Show, 2000
Vijaya Corea compering at the Sooriya Show held at the Hilton Hotel, 1980
“A faithful recalls ho he was cured of cancer” by Karel Roberts, Daily Observer, July 16, 1984
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