W. D. Amaradeva

W. D. Amaradeva

Infobox Musical artist

Name = Pandith Amaradeva
Landscape =
Background = solo_singer
Alias =
Origin = Sri Lanka
Genre = Sri Lankan music, Folk music, Raga
Years_active = 1947—present
Label =
Associated_acts =
Current_members =
Past_members =
Notable_instruments =

Wannakulawattawaduge Don Albert Perera (born December 5, 1927 in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka), better known by his adopted name Amaradeva, is a renowned Sri Lankan vocalist and musical composer, whose trademark musical style incorporates Sinhala folk music with Indian ragas. His music is often referred to as having forged what may be considered a truly Sri Lankan sound - this fact remains, however, his musical hallmark.

Pandit Amaradeva has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Philippine Ramon Magsaysay Award (2001), Indian Padma Sri Award and Sri Lankan "President's Award of Kala Keerthi" (1986) and Deshamanya Award (1998). He has also represented Sri Lanka in many forums including the UNESCO 1967 Manila Symposium, and composed the melody for the Maldives national anthem, Gaumii salaam, at the request of British Queen Elizabeth II in 1972.

Life and career

Early life and education

Amaradeva was born the youngest of six children to carpenter Wannakuwatta Waduge Don Ginoris Perera and Balapuwaduge Maggie Weslina Mendis at Janapriya Mawatha in Koralawella, Moratuwa. Perera was a Buddhist while Mendis was a Methodist bringing both Christian and Buddhist values to the family.

Amardeva was introduced to music at a young age by his father who crafted and played violins. Amaradeva would often strum the violin whle his mother sang hymns. Another family influence was Amaradeva's elder brother who taught Indian classical music to him. Amaradeva was presented with his own instrument on his seventh birthday.

He obtained his early education under Ven. Malalankara Nayaka of the Koralawella temple. With the development of his musical talent, Amaradeva was asked to recite poems and prayers at the temple; he was subsequently picked to lead the village choir.

Amaradeva continued his studies at Sri Saddharmodaya Buddhist Mixed School. While attending the school, he won a poetry contest held at the Moratuwa Vidyalaya; Amaradeva also led the school choir to a triumpant showing at a contest held by the Colombo Arts Society. His poetry win prompted school teachers to get him a showcase to recite poetry on Radio Ceylon. In 1945 Amaradeva won a gold medal at a music and violin contest held by Jana Kala Mandalaya.

Amaradeva entered Sri Sumangala Vidyalaya, Panadura after completing his primary education with a scholarship for English. At the school, he formed a friendship with the Principal Danister Thomas. Thomas helped Amaradeva get into Kalutara Vidyalaya and subsequently Siddharta Vidyalaya Balapitiya.

By chance filming of the film Ashokamala commenced nearby. Gerard J. Pieris of Moratuwa introduced Amaradeva to Mohamed Ghouse Master who was handling the music for the film and Ghouse recognizing Amaradeva's skill enlisted him as the top violinist in his orchestra.

Amardeva left his studies and accompanied Ghouse to India to work on the film. He would play a triple role of singing, dancing and acting on the film with the song "Ayi Yameku Kale Ale."


He found steady work as an artist on Radio Ceylon, where his unique vision and talent could be exhibited to an audience wider than he had ever before known - earning him a position at the Bhathkande Institute of Music in Lucknow, India. After extensive training, Albert returned to Sri Lanka as "Pandit" Wannakuwattawaduge Don Amaradeva.The name Amaradeva which translates as Immortal god was given to him by Prof. Ediriweera Sarachchandra (Sri Lanka's foremost playwright and a close associate).

During this time, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) had only begun emerging as an independent nation, and the question of "what" Sri Lankan music was, was slowly being addressed with equal vigour by intellectuals, artists and the general public. In response to the spirit of these times, Amaradeva began interweaving indigenous folk music with the Indian ragas he had studied in Lucknow, thereby giving expression to a more sophisticated cadence.

His other innovations include his experimentation with Western harmonies and counterharmonies, as well as with South Indian and Tamil musical forms. His opus, however, remains the work he did with Sri Lanka's celebrated lyricist Mahagama Sekera, in exploring the contours of fusing classical Sinhala poetry with his unique musical intonation. In time, Amaradeva's music came to reflect an entire philosophy, reflective of the spirit of a nation.

He has composed music for ballet(Karadiya, Nala Damayanthi, etc), film(Ran Muthu Duwa, Gam Peraliya, Ransalu, Delovak Athara, Gatavarayo, Rena Girav, Thunman Handiya, etc), theatre(Wessantara, etc), radio and television, and has sung over one thousand songs.

Amaradeva, and wife Wimala, have one son (Ranjana Amaradeva), and two daughters (Subhani Amaradeva, herself a talented vocalist, and Priyanvada Amaradeva).


*Officier (officer) in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) from the French government (2003)
*The Ramon Magsaysay Award of the Philippines - (2001)
*Title of Deshamanya form the government of Sri Lanka (1998)
*Title of Kala Keerthi form the government of Sri Lanka (1986)
*Padma Sri Award from India

ee also

*Radio Ceylon


* [http://www.discoversrilanka.com/people/Ananda_Samarakoon/Index.php Discover Sri Lanka - Page]
* [http://www.rmaf.org.ph/Awardees/Citation/CitationAmaradevaWD.htm Citation for 2001 Ramon Magsaysay Award]
* [http://www.sundaytimes.lk/030622/plus/5.html Amaradeva bags two more awards ]

External links

* [http://www.laktunes.com Find Music of Pandith W.D. Amaradeva]

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