K J Yesudas , born January 10, 1940, is one of the premier Indian musicians and a leading playback singer for songs in many Indian languages. His film songs, mostly in Malayalam, continue to please millions throughout the world. He was born in Fort Kochi, Kerala to Augustine Joseph and Elizabeth Joseph. His father, who was his first guru (teacher), was a well known Malayalam classical musician and stage actor of his time. Yesudas is a Malayali singer, and exponent of Carnatic Music. He joined the Music Academy in Thirupunithura and won a gold medal for music at a local competition in Fort Kochi at age 7. He later trained under the legendary Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar in Classical Music, and this training, abruptly cut short by the guru's demise in 1974, still stood him in good stead.
His first song as a playback singer (non-Hindi movie) was for the movie Kalpadukal (1961). His first Hindi song was for the movie Anand Mahal, with music given by Salil Chowdhury who shared a long standing relation with the singer. Fondly remembered songs of the duo include songs from movies such as Nellu, Vishukkani, Chuvanna Chirakukal, Ee Gaanam Marakkumo - to name a few. The trio combination of Salil-Yesudas and Prem Nazir (the evergreen hero of Malayalam Cinema) took the Malayalam Cinema Industry of the 70's by storm. As a matter of fact, it was generally agreed that Yesudas's voice was the most ideal one for Prem Nazir.
Yesudas's most popular Hindi songs are from the 1976 movie Chitchor, with music given by Ravindra Jain. The greatest tribute paid to him is cited during an interview with Ravindra Jain, wherein the blind music director confessed that if he ever happened to regain vision, the first person he would like to see was Yesudas. Yesudas's greatest association in Hindi was with Ravinder Jain and the duo combined to produce memorable including Oo Goriya re (from the film Naiyya - directed by Prashanth Nanda),Sunayna (from the film Sunayna. The film in which Yesudas sang the most memorable Hindi songs is claimed to be Saawan ko aane do with music given by the notable late Shri Raj Kamal. Songs like Jaanam, Chand jaise mukhde pe and Tujhe Dekh Kar Jagwale Par (from Saawan Ko Aane Do), Kahan se aaye badra (from Chasme Baddoor),Ni Sa Ga Ma Pa (from Anand Mahal) etc leave even the lover of modern songs spell bound. During an interview with Spice Music Channel, he told the interviewer that a song he sang for the unreleased Hindi movie 'Tansen' was his all time favorite song in Hindi.
Yesudas, a talent discovered by Salil Chowdhary and nurtured by Ravindra Jain, has sung more than 30,000 songs for thousands of Indian movies in many languages including Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Gujarati, Telugu and Bengali through his long career. He was also invited by the Soviet Government to perform at music concerts in various cities of the U.S.S.R in 1965.
Dr. Yesudas and his wife Prabha have three sons, Vinod, Vijay and Vishal. The family is currently settled in Chennai, India.
DR. K. J. Yesudas is a passion and inspiration for all Keralites, even though he is well-known all over South Asia. His humble beginnings, the hardships he had to go through, the immense success he achieved, the dedication he still has for Indian music, underscores the above stated facts.
Yesudas was awarded Padmashree (in 1973) and Padma Bhushan (in 2002).