The charming duo of Moratuwa
I met two simple and lovable young singers last Wednesday evening at
Moratuwa. Although I was late, the duo, Dinu Sanjuna and Sureni de Mel,
welcomed me with a child-like delight.
"Sorry girls, I am late," I said.
"Don't mind that, it's ok," said Dinu graciously as she glanced at
Sureni who took a sigh of relief to cheer herself up.
Whom to talk first, the nervous Sureni or courtly Dinu?
I talked to Sureni first. She started her singing career three years
ago. Her singing ranges from Western pop and hip-hop, to oriental songs.
Sureni has six original songs to her name.
When I asked her to tell us about her progress in the field she said:
"Well, I have done six originals so far. I composed melodies for five
of them. And one of my singles, Oba Magemai Kiya, has made its place in
the Sri Lankan Ridma Tharanga Music Chart."
How did you learn the art of melody composing?
"Ok, I have a keyboard at home and I play by ear. I don't consider
myself being very good at playing the Keyboards or any other instrument.
But I would say I can still play notes on the keyboard with my right
hand and make a musical phrase that is agreeable to ears. That's how I
create melodies, first by mentally hearing the sound," Sureni explained.
How did you come to sing Western pop?
"I think I was much influenced by my mother, Cheryl Kuruppu, who is
also a singer. She has helped me a lot. Besides singing is a passion in
my family," she said.
Do you follow a particular style of singing?
"I sing stuff from Madonna's La Isla Bonita to Shakira's Hips Don't
Lie. The fact is we have to do a lot of cover songs to entertain local
fans. I think I just sing the way I do," she said.
How do you sing the way you do, let's hear...
Mmm... OK (smiling) no problem... I'm gonna sing anyway. (Pause) "Estoy
loca enamorada ti... It seemed to be like the perfect thing for you and
me..." That's Jenniffer Lopez's Ain't It Funny.
Sureni is about to release her maiden hip-hop track, Adaraei Nam. She
had written the part rapping section lyrics. The music is composed by
Thusitha Niroshan, a member of Centigrade. She works as an Assistant
Manager of Exports at WSA Lines. She is collecting songs to cut a CD
which she plans to release at the end of this year.
Then I turned to Dinu who had been waiting patiently. Dinu had
started her singing from the age of eight and her speciality is that she
can sing in any given language which she believes is a gift of God. Dinu
is an independent character.
She has done a track on Sri Lanka's much longed-for peace for YA TV.
The track was produced by Dilantha Liyanage. The song is aired
She has done about 30 Christian songs for radio programmes arranged
by Back to the Bible. Dinu toured Abudabi this year. I asked her about
"It was a successful tour and it was a good experience too. I had to
sing a few Tamil songs in Abudabi as it was much expected by the crowd,"
What kind of a singer are you?
"Well, that's a tough one because I sing all genres of music except
hard rock and heavy metal. I do sentimental songs, popular and oriental
"But I firmly believe that a singer should be able to sing any type
of music within her vocal capacity no matter what the genre of music
might be. Whether that be country, pop or classical, a singer should be
able to understand the sound, which is his or her territory," a
thoughtful Dinu said.
So you sing sentimental songs as well as songs of popular culture,
please elaborate on it.
All right. These days I sing Celine Dion's New Day and Shakira's
Whenever Wherever with much interest. I also do covers of country songs
of Dolly Parton with much ease. I like doing singles of Olivia Newton
John, Abba and BoneyM.
How do you describe your position in the oriental music scene?
Well I'm doing my bit very well. I even got through my Visharada
exam. But then again I should say that Visharada exams do not
necessarily produce singers, but it can be of great help for one's
progress in the field.
Are you undermining the Visharada exam?
No, I am saying that there could be singers with Visharada degree who
may not be able to sing as is expected. Singing needs a heart, she said.
I first guessed Dinu to be outspoken. But I think she is an extremely
emotional character who can get upset easily over little things.
Dinu will soon record couple of songs for her new CD. She remembered
Dilantha Liyanage, Sudath Mannapperuma and Sanath Geekiyanage with
gratitude for their support.
She is currently performing in Keerthi Pasquel's band and Sarath
Fernando's band as a freelance singer.
She also performs with Sureni. The duo have been friends since the
time Dinu had been working at the Bible Society.
I asked Dinu to sing a song for us the way her friend did, and this
time I asked for a gaily oriental tune, and she sang from her top vocal
range... "Obage Ruwa Magemai..."
Nightwish - symphonic metal with operatic vocals
Nightwish: The name may be unfamiliar to us in Sri Lanka, but in
Europe (Especially northern Europe) and in South America, Nightwish is a
popular and a well-loved symphonic Goth/Metal band. Coming from Finland,
the group's music is similar to music of the US based group Evanescence
as both bands are female fronted and accompanied by an orchestra.
Nightwish's music has a more epic feel to it, and it's more like
listening to a movie soundtrack. The reason is Nightwish uses operatic
Tarja Turunen, who was their lead singer until recently, is an opera
singer who has a stunning voice with power. Tuomas Holopainen, is their
principal songwriter. He plays the keyboards/synthesizers, Jukka
Nevalainen is on drums, Emppu Vuorinen on guitar and Marco Hietala on
bass and backup vocals.
According to their website, the idea of Nightwish was born in July
1996 at midnight when Tuomas was with his friends around a campfire. The
first three songs, which are acoustic mood pieces, had been recorded
between October and December 1996. At the time the band had three
members: Tuomas, Tarja and Emppu.
When Jukka came to the band an electric guitar came to be used. After
a couple of weeks training in April 1997, Nightwish recorded seven songs
for their album, Angels Fall First.
Nightwish signed a two year recording contract with Spinefarm in May
1997. It recorded four new songs in August. The single "The Carpenter"
was released which became number eight on the official singles chart in
Angels Fall First was released in November. Sami Vanska joined the
group and a new album "Oceanborn" was released.
Their next album was "Wishmaster", after the release of which, Marco
Hietala stepped in replacing Sami Vanska who left the band on personal
grounds. It was after the release of "Century Child", the world started
to take notice of Nightwish. Once, Nemo, Wish I had an Angel, Ghost Love
Score, Dark Chest of Wonders, Creek Mary's Blood and Romanticide are the
best among their tracks. Once topped the album charts in Germany,
Finland, Norway, Slovakia, Hungary and Greece.
You can find out more information at "www.nightwish.com".