Vernon Corea mentioned in a Sunday Times Sri Lanka article on the famous Galle Face Hotel in Colombo

Radio Ceylon broadcaster Vernon Corea was recently mentioned in a Sunday Times Sri Lanka feature on the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo:

From 1864, it has seen it all

With one of Colombo’s legendary landmarks, Galle Face Hotel reopening its doors after a facelift, Vinusha Paulraj walks down its corridors from a dim distant past to modern times.

Lined by Dutch cannons strategically placed to ward off returning Portuguese fleets, the mile-long promenade by Colombo’s sea front was the favoured spot for the colonial gentry ‘to take in the air’.

The way it was: Galle Face Hotel in its early days

It was British Governor Sir Henry Ward who commissioned the Galle Face Green, as we know it, in the late 1850s. Earlier the Green had sprawled over a much larger expanse with horse races being held there until they were moved to Colombo’s Race Course in the early 1800s.

Like the Green it overlooks, Galle Face Hotel’s stately façade is an integral part of Colombo’s landscape and one that has morphed with time.

As the historic hotel last month proudly unveiled its refurbished interiors with the management’s vision focused on restoring some lost grandeur, one of the hotel’s newly installed resident historians Sandali Matharage walked us through from past to present.

A team of British entrepreneurs constructed the Galle Face Hotel on the Green’s Southern end in 1864 where a Dutch building housing ammunition for their cannons and the soldiers manning them had once stood.

Vintage touch: Torch lamps light the con servatory. Pix by Indika Handuwala

The Dutch structure called “Galle Face House” was completely torn down, says Matharage, and rising in its place was “What we call the Hotel’s North Wing” designed by renowned architect Thomas Skinner.

Prior to the Suez Canal’s opening in 1869, the hotel had only consisted of the North Wing but shorter travel times saw a greater influx of visitors brought in by the ships calling at Colombo and the “South Wing” was built in 1890 to meet this demand.

The verandah runs across the building’s length, opening up to an arrestingly regal pillared porch which has seen the likes of Rudyard Kipling, Pope John Paul II and Steven Spielberg pass through.

Where once horse-drawn carriages bearing the Galle Face Hotel crest drew up, today taxis wait outside the same low walls hoping for a guest in need of a quick ride.

Vintage photographs of the main entrance show some notable changes during the 1960’s -70’s. Glass panelled doors were replaced by thick wooden ones with ornate oriental carvings.

If these walls could speak: The Coconut Room, now the Jubilee Room has witnessed many a rollicking party from yesteryear

The balustrade trimming a terrace over the porch was substituted by “something resembling tiles”.

“Originally there weren’t any majestic carved doors,” says Matharage explaining that in their place stood elegantly framed glass, with no local elaborations.

“There’s been significant streamlining of added frills which don’t seem evident in the few pictures of the hotel’s original interior. We have many pictures of the outside, but not as much of the inside.”

A colour photograph is how they discovered that the Galle Face Hotel was actually pink, Matharage says. The rosy hue owing to building materials used is now covered under layers of plaster.

Legendary parties are said to have been hosted in the “Coconut Room”. Famously known by that name in the early 1900s, the room had witnessed New Year’s Eve parties particularly during WWII that had even drowned out the sound of air raid sirens.

“Luckily it was just a drill and the band played on,” she smiles. In the 60’s the Coconut Room played host to talent searches like Radio Star Ceylon, hosted by Vernon Corea.

Local touch: Tissa Ranasinghe’s terracotta mural installed in 1970 now in full view at one end of the lounge

It was here that the Jetliners were discovered and the band went on to record their first album in the lobby. Minus dated tapestry trailing down from the skylight, today this space is called the Jubilee Ballroom.

No colonial hotel is complete without a grand ballroom. Before renovations guests could peer down into Galle Face Hotel’s grand ballroom from the balconies but these have now been sealed off to keep noise from echoing throughout the hotel.

Between the two renowned venues is what we’re told is “the Conservatory” which serves as an extended foyer to both ballrooms. Brass torch-like lamps resembling the original lamp-shades found in the dining room are new additions here.

Time has invariably muffled much that went on inside the Galle Face Hotel. Reports of a spa run by two sisters in one of the rooms, fail to mention where their establishment was in fact located.

Another shot in the dark for the staff was to assume records of a sport “enjoyed by both men and women” was a reference to croquet. Guests are soon to receive instructions on how to play the game as the hotel recently inaugurated its own “The Colombo Croquet Club.”

The South Wing: Wood panels and Otis elevator

The Sri Lankan touch is seen in the lobby where artist Tissa Ranasinghe’s large terracotta mural installed in 1970 depicting multi-ethnic worship in the country, previously visible over the former front desk, is now in full view at one end of the lounge.

The former smoking-lounge complete with wood panelled screen doors where Arthur C.Clarke is said to have penned the final chapters of his Space Odyssey trilogy isn’t included in the in-house tour.

But here behind the screen door is another ‘find’ from the 1940’s – an incomplete mural of brightly coloured dancers and fresh green foliage by Russian artist Alexander Sofronoff.

Connecting the North and South Wings is the black and white corridor synonymous with the Galle Face Terrace where countless cups of afternoon tea have been savoured.

Old photographs suggest that initially this was the restaurant itself, overlooking a larger lawn. Now the restaurant has grown, occupying more lawn-space.

The Southern Wing not used to capacity for the past 50 years has “a different feel to it” our guide shares. “We discovered that the elevators first installed in 1890 were manufactured by Otis, the same brand we use to date.”

Attention-grabbing exhibit in the museum: The cannon ball

Today its wood-toned interior houses guest rooms, a library featuring works of all celebrity guests and a museum in the conference area where plaques with familiar faces – former 007s, sportsmen, Olympic athletes, celebrated politicians, revolutionaries, clergy, royalty, explorers and authors who have visited the hotel stare back at you.

Next to the china “imported from the UK” imprinted with each modification of the hotel’s logo, a particular exhibit catches our attention.

The cannon ball sitting on a velvety bed has a curious tale. Misfired by a soldier in training, it had sailed through the hotel’s roof landing on the ground and rolling under a table around which a family was enjoying breakfast.

Thankfully it failed to detonate. It is a potent reminder that the Galle Face Hotel has seen it all and still stands strong.

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The Nation Newspaper in Sri Lanka: Vernon Corea in a History of the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo

The Coconut Grove was Sri Lanka's premier entertainment venue at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo. Vernon Corea has presented Radio Ceylon programmes here and introduced The Jetliners on stage. (Photo by Krankman)

The Coconut Grove was Sri Lanka’s premier entertainment venue at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo. Vernon Corea has presented Radio Ceylon programmes here and introduced The Jetliners on stage. (Photo by Krankman)

A Feature in the Nation newspaper in Sri Lanka mentions Vernon Corea in a History of Galle Face Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

http://www.nation.lk/2010/01/17/eyefea5.htm

Australia’s Alston Koch’s tribute to Vernon Corea – marking his 10th Death Anniversary

Australian music legend Alston Koch paid a tribute to Vernon Corea

Alston Koch is a music legend from Australia – he was born in Sri Lanka. When Alston was a very young teenager, growing up in Colombo he aspired to be a star. The man who helped him was Vernon Corea who had a highly influential column called EMCEE in the Ceylon Daily News in the 1960s and 1970s. Vernon wrote the first ever feature on Alston publishing a photograph of the teenager. When Alston joined Mignonne Fernando and The Jetliners Vernon has introduced Alston on many a stage in Colombo, including the famous Coconut Grove – at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo. Alston went on to find fame and huge success – including being featured on MTV in Asia – when he moved to Australia. He was also appointed an Ambassador for Sri Lanka Tourism.

Writing from Australia, Alston said:

‘Vernon Corea -the EMCEE himself the journalist’s journalist and mostly because he was a compassionate and wonderful human being! May his soul rest in peace….’

The Coconut Grove and The Galle Face Hotel in Colombo

The Coconut Grove was Sri Lanka's premier entertainment venue at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo. Vernon Corea has presented Radio Ceylon programmes here and introduced The Jetliners on stage. (Photo by Krankman)

The Coconut Grove at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo was THE premier entertainment venue in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. The Coconut Grove was owned by the Galle Face Hotel, the oldest hotel in South Asia.

People flocked to the Coconut Grove in the 1950s and 1960s to watch Radio Ceylon’s talent contests recorded at the night club. The radio station popularised the Coconut Grove on the air and the venue has been mentioned even in some of the popular songs of the day.

Vernon Corea has introduced Mignonne Fernando and The Jetliners at the Coconut Grove at the Galle Face Hotel.

Vernon Corea has presented Radio Ceylon programmes from the Coconut Grove. He also introduced Sri Lanka’s first ever superstar group Mignonne Fernando and The Jetliners on stage at the Coconut Grove in front of packed audiences. The Jetliners had a huge fan base at the time and they were mobbed at the venue.Mignonne Fernando has sung many of her hits including ‘My Boy Lollipop,’ and The Jetliners have played favourites such as ‘Foot Tapper,’ at the Coconut Grove, watched by their manager Tony Fernando.

Vernon together with other legendary Radio Ceylon broadcasters such as Livy Wijemanne have compered shows from the awe inspiring ballroom at the Galle Face Hotel. The hotel was the venue for many New Year’s Eve dances and Vernon Corea has wished the nation ‘Happy New Year’ behind the microphone at the Galle Face Hotel.

Information on the Galle Face Hotel on Wikipedia:

The Galle Face Hotel, founded in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1864, is the oldest hotel east of Suez . It is located at 2, Galle Road, Colombo 03. The Ceylon Hotels Corporation is now part of the Galle Face Hotel Group. The hotel is a member of Select Hotels and Resorts International. The current chairman of the hotel is Sanjeev Gardiner, since the demise of his father Cyril Gardiner in 1997 . It is listed as one of the “1000 Places to See Before You Die” in the book of the same name . It received the “Best Heritage Hotel 2010” title at the Presidential Awards for Travel and Tourism (of Sri Lanka), held in June 2010.

The hotel was originally built by four British entrepreneurs in 1864. Its name derives from the stretch of lawn which it faces, known as the Galle Face Green. It began as a Dutch villa called Galle Face House. Land for the hotel’s expansion was purchased between 1870 and 1894. In 1894, architect Thomas Skinner completed its current classic wing, its facade being largely intact until the present day, though with many refurbishments.

Mignonne Fernando and The Jetliners regularly entertained guests at the Coconut Grove, the night club attached to the hotel. The venue was even popularised in a song. Radio Ceylon recorded music programmes from the Coconut Grove as well as the Galle Face Hotel itself, presented by some of the popular Radio Ceylon announcers in the 1950s and 1960s, such as Livy Wijemanne and Vernon Corea. Thousands listened to the broadcasts, particularly ‘New Year’s Eve’ dances from the Galle Face Hotel.

D.G. William (known as ‘Galle Face William’), the Lanka Sama Samaja Party trade union leader, first worked and organised workers here. The Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke wrote the final chapters of 3001 – The Final Odyssey in the hotel.

The Regency, located in the restored southern wing of the hotel was completed in early 2006. It is marketed as the luxury wing of the hotel.

The hotel also employs the world’s oldest hospitality industry veteran and doorman, Kottarapattu Chattu (“K.C.”) Kuttan. Joining the hotel as a bell boy cum waiter in 1942, he continues to serve.

Celebrity Guests

Russia's Yuri Gargarin, the first man in space visited Ceylon and stayed at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo.

Celebrity clients include the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, former British Prime minister Edward Heath, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, Prince Phillip, the journalist Eric Ellis and photographer Palani Mohan, Prince Sadruddhin Aga Khan, Rigger Bone Sconi, then-Prince Hirohito of Japan, Roger Moore, Carrie Fisher, Richard Nixon, Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and Marshal Josip Broz Tito.

 

Tony Fernando, Mignonne Fernando and the Jetliners

The late Tony Fernando and Mignonne Fernando

The late Tony Fernando was a pioneer in the field of popular music in Sri Lanka. He was truly an entrepreneur and was excited about popular music. He saw a gap in the music market in 1950s Ceylon and opened up the first ever shop selling records and radios called Tony’s Record Bar,’ in Bambalapitiya. It was the ‘in’ place to be for the next generation. Tony sold the latest music in his record shop and he started releasing records himself – his first ever signing was Nimal Mendis who went on to become a star. Tony recorded Nimal’s hit song ‘Kandyan Express’ and Radio Ceylon played the song over and over again.

Tony Fernando built up a friendship with Vernon Corea in the late 1950s. Vernon had joined Radio Ceylon as a relief announcer in 1956 and as a full time announcer in 1957. Tony was keen to receive airplay for his new protegees. When Vernon and his family lived in Templar’s Road in Mount Lavinia, Tony Fernando and his first wife were frequent visitors. Sadly she passed away in the early 1960s.

Tony Fernando went on to run the Lewis Browns recording studio and formed the hit making machine – Sri Lanka’s first ever super group The Jetliners. Vernon was impressed with young Mignonne Rutnam who had participated in a Radio Ceylon talent contest.

Later on Mignonne joined the line up with The Jetliners. Tony Fernando was her first manager and then her husband. Mignonne and the Jetliners reached the top of the music world in South Asia and South East Asia. They proved to be an absolute hit  – over the airwaves of Radio Ceylon.Vernon played their songs on his popular radio programmes on the station.

The first ever superstar group from Sri Lanka - The Jetliners.

In the early days Vernon had introduced Mignonne and The Jetliners at the premier entertainment venue of the 1960s in Colombo, the ‘Coconut Grove’ at the famous Galle Face Hotel. Radio Ceylon also held their talent contests at the Coconut Grove.Vernon has also compered New Year’s Eve dances held at the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo in the 1960s and 1970s.

Sri Lankan star Mignonne Fernando

Information on Mignonne Fernando on Wikipedia:

Having won Radio Ceylon‘s Talent Contest at the age of seven, a year later she wrote her first music composition. Her father. Arnold Rutnam, was renowned for his mathematical skills, and her mother, Marie was a devoted and much loved teacher of music.

As a student of St. Bridget’s Convent, Colombo 7, Mignonne scored First position in her class throughout, except the one term when she took ill and was placed second. She participated in Theatre Productions and played Goal for the School Netball Team with equal enthusiasm.

Her interest in Law was overtaken by her passion for Music, and thanks to her mother, she received formal training in Western Classical Music, Speech and Drama. This proved to be her greatest strength and an excellent foundation to her musical career that was to follow.

“Her firsts in the history of popular music in Sri Lanka and her many musical achievements internationally have proved that Mignonne is a rarity by any standard.” Carl Myatt – South China Morning Post.

The early years

In 1965, Mignonne along with her group The Jetliners became an instant success under the excellent guidance of Manager/Husband Tony Fernando; and their popularity grew from strength to strength, wherever they performed. Radio Ceylon,introduced her music not only to a local audience but right across South Asia. During the early years Mignonne Fernando and the Jetliners enjoyed star billing at the Coconut Grove nightclub situated in the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo.

In 1969 she became the first Sri Lankan to be signed up by EMI Records UK, and Keith Prowse Music London. The CeyloneseWedding Song’ (Mangala Mohotha) was her first song to be copyrighted by KPM.

Her song “Love don’t let me down” won the Embassy Award at the World Popular Song Festival where renowned composers and artistes the world over are invited to submit compositions. Of over 1,200 entries, only 10 were selected to be eligible for the award. Another original composition “Someday my love” won the Matsushita Award and Special Jury Award for Composer and Performer at the Festival of Song.

A Sinhala composition “Oba Nisa” was selected for the Finals of the 5th Olympiad of Song in Athens, Greece where it won the Gold Medal. “Coconut Man” made the finals of the World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo. This made her the only Woman Composer/ Performer to date to have been selected into the finals.

Mignonne Fernando

by Ilika Karunaratne

Daily News, Sat Jun 14, 2003: Every fairy tale has its own bete noire – A ‘Once upon a time’ or ‘happily married ever after’, also usually demands a thorn. To Mignonne Rutnam, as she was then, her fairy tale began, when she met Tony Fernando, when she was just sweet sixteen. He was first her Manager, and later, both husband and Manager. The thorn to them, was Tony’s illness and death, which was to take him away last year, after a 38 year old marriage, made in heaven.

Mignonne, has always been my favourite female Sri Lankan singer. Her voice in my ears, is like sun warmed honey, and no-one, then or now, can hold a candle to her. Each one of us takes the death of a loved one in a different way. Each of us swims in our own pool of grief; our own flood of memories. Loneliness becomes constant, memories become companions and darkness becomes a haven for fantasy. Mignonne’s first reaction to the shock, was to take herself away; to spend time with her daughter in Dubai. She then returned to immerse herself in work.

“Tony knew that I wanted to do this CD, and it was his dream too. Music to me, is a gift from God; I am forever in his debt, for this wonderful gift. My mother helped me to develop it, by her knowledge of it, and her encouragement. But it was because of Tony’s inspired management that my music sprouted and blossomed. I worked hard, to see that this dream of ours, Tony’s and mine, came true, by producing this album. It seemed to be an eternity in the making, but it has been a labour of love, and a total experience of mind, body and soul”, she said of her new CD released recently.

You have been away a long time. How would you describe those years? “Working at The Regent, Hongkong, was a truly enthralling experience. It is a place where the rich and famous gather almost daily, as you can see from the Daimlers parked outside. It was voted the world’s best hotel, for three years in a row, by The Institutional Investor. It rises above the glittering lights of Hongkong, on the very edge of the world’s most spectacular harbour”.

Mignonne showed me a picture of the room in which they sang, with enormous glass windows, almost the length and breadth of the room. She also related an interesting legend about it; that it is built in the path of the nine dragons, as dragons can walk through glass; so it doesn’t disturb their freedom of movement! The view seems panoramic, and at night, with an azure sky, the stars would look like diamonds., sparkling on dark silk.

“Our time there was really wonderful. It was the best years to be there too; meeting interesting people, organizing and creating music to suit individual tastes. There were various dimensions to performances; some would like old music, like Joe Loss for instance. We played at several traditional weddings too, society functions, with the sophistication of Chanel and Karl Lagerfield clothes, a Cartier launch of the perfume, ‘Panthere’, brings back nostalgic memories, of a real live panther, being carried in on a palanquin, by Nubian slaves. Julio Iglesius, who popularized that ubiquitous song, ‘All the girls I loved before’ performed at shows that we did.

Singers, dancers, comics, Broadway veterans, brought great entertainment, as well as the celebrity touch to the performances. So many shows with so many different themes; one was in the styling of ‘In a Persian market’, another was ‘A night in Manhatten’ I created the whole score of music for many of these shows. Often, after the star of the evening performed, we would play music for dancing. 2.30 a.m. is the time they call ‘carriages’ which means that the function was over and it was time to go home. Alan Zeman, is a famous figure in HongKong, who owns several clubs and streets in Hong Kong we played at his son’s ‘Bar Mitzah and played only jewish music on that occasion:”.

When was the beginning of your spectacular career in music? “We began right here in Colombo, at the Coconut Grove at The Galle Face Hotel. Our next spot was The Taj Mahal in Bombay, then to Singapore, where we won our first international awards. Our first break in Hong Kong, was at The Talk of the Town, which was a revolving restaurant. We came back here and performed too, before our long stay in Hong Kong”.

Sohan Peiris says that he owes everything he is today to Tony and you. What about the original jetliners? “The original jetliners are scattered all over the world now, but we did get together for a concert in Australia recently. We are all keen on performing here, where it all began and are working on it, and trying to work out sponsorship. Tony managed all hotel musicians in Hong Kong. He was a most gentle ruler, who ruled his kingdom of music, with a firm, but fair hand.

We formed a company for this and had 16 to 20 musicians under this umbrella. We played for almost every grand opening at The Regent, where the creme a la creme of Hong Kong would be present. We once had a millionaire who wanted to have dinner alone with his wife in the atmosphere of Sherwood Forest, with our band playing soft music.

We created this and he was so happy with the evening that he gave me a gift of a mink teddy bear. I had to give this to a child before I returned here, as the mink would not have stood our climate! Another wonderful memory was ‘The Captains Ball’, held by the Captain of The Q E 2. We had one band in the foyer, another playing light classical during dinner, and still another for dancing.

The joy of creating and organizing music left me little time for boredom. We used to practise two days in the week and perform for three days in the week. Our apartment was just next to the hotel. It was great fun while it lasted, but in 1997, we decided come back home, and go back only for seasons. Our two sons have finished University now and are both living and working in the US. The last two years for me, were devoted to Tony’s health and everything else came after that. I wanted to launch my CD in February, but I felt it was insensitive in the midst of the war in Iraq, to launch a CD, which was a celebration of life”.

What of the future? I would like to do seasons in the US, where my sons are. I would very much enjoy doing the musical score for a Sinhalese film. I like to be flexible and introduce new concepts in music”. Mignonne’s world has been a kaleidoscope; a constantly changing prism that mixed, mingled and overlapped to create shades and patterns. On stage, she is the quintessential star of spellbinding presence; shimmering and shining.

To meet and talk to her on her own, she is a lovely person, with beauty of soul that somehow shines through. I almost cried as I listened and watched her on video, singing ‘I am proud to be Sri Lankan’, in all three languages, Sinhalese, Tamil and English. The background showing all the beauties of our country. Our beaches, the ruined cities, temples and our children of all communities, who are after all our future. This song, should I think be used on radio, on TV, on Sri Lankan, Airlines and by The Tourist Board. It is so beautiful and heart warming and could be a pathway to permanent peace.

“Wherever I may have wandered, I have never failed to take a part of Sri Lanka with me, and have always projected my country through my music. I wear either Kandyan saree or ‘Redda hatte’, and wear a ‘nalal patiya too’, when I sing in Sinhalese or Tamil. My heart has always been right here, in Sri Lanka, and I would like to do more for our country”.

Her soft, mellifluous voice as she speaks, radiates a special kind of spirituality, charm and originality. As a composer, lyricist and singer, she has no equal, and is the brightest star of the musical firmament in our country.

She has been dubbed ‘Sri Lanka’s Ambassadress of Song,’ Mignonne Fernando enjoys iconic status not only in South Asia but also in the Far East, where, for many years she was a resident musician at The Regent Hotel in Hong Kong. She will headline a massive concert in Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka in March 2006. This will be an opportunity for fans of Mignonne and The Jetliners to re-live nostalgic memories of the 1960s and 1970s of the popular music scene on the island

Mignonne is truly an international star and has performed from the United States to Singapore. She has wowed audiences at the Taj in Mumbai in India for several years.

Mignonne Fernando exploded onto the Ceylonese music scene in 1963 when as Mignonne Rutnam she won a song contest on Radio Ceylon. The radio station is the oldest and one of the finest broadcasting institutions in South Asia.

Legendary broadcasters such as Livy Wijemanne, Vernon Corea, Jimmy Bharucha, Nihal Bhareti and Vijaya Corea played her music and that of the Jetliners over the airwaves of Radio Ceylon and subsequently the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, making her a household name.

Vernon Corea who had introduced The Jetliners at the Coconut Grove at Galle Face Hotel in Colombo in the 1960s played the music of The Jetliners on his popular radio program on BBC Radio London called ‘ London Sounds Eastern’ in the 1970s and 1980s – it was produced by top BBC man Keith Yeomans. Mignonne Fernando’s music reached new British audiences in the capital.

She was managed by the music mogul the late Tony Fernando who married her – he made her a star. Mignonne and the Jetliners had star billing in Sri Lanka. They represented the country at international song contests.

A pivotal moment came in 2003 when Mignonne Fernando released her first CD titled ‘A Celebration of Life.’ Mignonne told the media: ‘Tony knew that I wanted to do this CD, and it was his dream too. Music to me, is a gift from God; I am forever in his debt, for this wonderful gift. My mother helped me to develop it, by her knowledge of it, and her encouragement. But it was because of Tony’s inspired management that my music sprouted and blossomed. I worked hard, to see that this dream of ours, Tony’s and mine, came true, by producing this album. It seemed to be an eternity in the making, but it has been a labour of love, and a total experience of mind, body and soul‘, she said of her CD.

The Sunday Observer in Sri Lanka noted: ‘Mignonne drew her early musical influences she tells us, from Franz Liszt, George Gershwin, Quincy Jones her favorite, Diana Ross and the many well known gospel singers. The music of the Motown World, Jazz and Dave Griusin hold a special place for her inspiration-wise.

The highlights of your CD?

Mangala Mohotha, the lyrics for which is by the late Karunaratne Abeysekera, I arranged and performed the song and introduced the flute by Sajeewa Gurusinghe. There’s the song ‘Proud to be Sri Lankan’ for which the inspiration came fast after I saw the Imax film ‘Blue Planet’ – the journey of the space shuttle and when the astronauts said “there down below is beautiful Sri Lanka.”

It took me by surprise I was spurred to compose. The lyrics came equally fast like the melody. Our people are forgetting what a beautiful country we live in and I hope the message I’m projecting in the song will be a lasting one.

There are other tracks like ‘Den Nivadu Kale’, my version of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ which was featured on VOA by Judy Massa and broadcast on Simultaneous Satellite Broadcast Worldwide.” And of course the Overture which I wrote for the Mignonne and the Jetliners Australia 2000 tours, ‘ she said.

An outstanding track on her CD ‘Celebration of Life‘ is called ‘Island Song’ a fusion of hip hop and tabla. This song deserves to be played on western radio stations – by all accounts it should be an international hit if only someone would promote the very best of Sri Lanka’s musicians in the west.

Mignonne received a huge ovation when she appeared on stage at a ‘Grand Salute to Vijaya Corea’ at the BMICH in Colombo. She will play Colombo in March 2006 before spending time in the United States.

To hear Mignonne Fernando’s hit: ‘Island song’ please access the website:

http://www.sinhalajukebox.org/cgi-bin/songs.cgi?action=ShowTracks&artist=A417&compose=

Watch The Jetliners  on youtube: