Neela Wickremasinghe no more | Daily News

Neela Wickremasinghe no more

Veteran Sri Lankan singer and musician Neela Wickramasinghe has passed away at the age of 71 in Milan, Italy.

Wickramasinghe was recently appointed as the Consul General of Sri Lanka in Milan.

Known for her popular hits such as ‘Master Sir’ as well as duets sung with T.M. Jayaratne, she was also a former teacher in music and had also graduated in 1974 with a Sangeeth Visharada Degree after studying North Indian Classical Music.

With over 55 years of experience in the industry, Wickramasinghe has contributed to over 60 films as a playback singer while she has also contributed to hundreds of songs

She won the Sarasaviya Award thrice, the Presidential Award, Sumathi Tele Award, Zonta Award and Vanitha Award.

Wickramasinghe was the youngest daughter of Don Francis Wickramasinghe and Withanaratchige Don Yasawathie Gunasekera of Wattala. She became a victim of Polio at the age of six months. The first school she attended was Kirimatiyagara Vidyalaya. In 1954 she was admitted to Kesbewa Government private school where she first started to get involved in music. Later she went to Mampe Sri Sobhita Maha Vidyalaya. Wickramasinghe learned music under maestro Vincent Somapala and Ananda Jayasinghe. She sang her first song for the then Radio Ceylon in 1959 for a programme ‘Amateur Voice.’

In 1967 she had the privilege to record her first song with Radio Ceylon. The song was composed by Dalton Alwis with the music provided by Lionel Algama, “Sende ambare nisha mal yata”.

In 1973, she was selected as an A-Grade artiste on the merit of the songs sung by the research section of the SLBC. After studying North Indian Classical Music, she graduated in 1974 with a Sangeeth Visharada Degree. Wickramasinghe had a number of popular hits including duets with T.M.Jayaratne. Later, Wickramasinghe opted to become a music teacher. After teaching in several schools she decided to retire prematurely in 1998 after 23 years having had eight-year stint at Visakha Vidyalaya, Bambalapitiya. Wickramasinghe was diagnosed with abdominal cancer in a very serious manner but survived.

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