Video: Sri Lanka’s Ambassadress of Song

Here's a bit of trivia for you. Who was the first Sri Lankan to sign a record deal with EMI records?

I'll give you a clue. She is a Tamil.

If you said MIA (Maya Arulpragasam) then go to your corner!

Although MIA get's a lot of attention for being Sri Lankan, others have put the island on the map more notably, and way before MIA was even thought of.

Mignonette Malathi May Rutnam is Sri Lanka’s ambassadress of song.

Apart from being the first Sri Lankan composer-performer to sign a record deal with EMI, Mignonne also performed The Ceylonese wedding song (Mangala Mohotha).

I won't be wrong if I said the song is as commonly known as the national anthem on the island.

To this day it is played at every Sinhalese wedding. Playing it has almost become tradition.

Yes, Mignonne was fluent in both Tamil and Sinhalese. And this song by a Tamil girl has become a Sinhalese anthem.

The song was also played when Sri Lanka beamed it's first Television signal in 1979.

Radio Diffusion

Mignonne Fernando first appeared onto the Sri Lankan music scene in 1963 when as Mignonne Rutnam she won a song contest on Radio Ceylon. The radio station is one of the oldest broadcasting institutions in South Asia.

Vernon Corea, who was a popular disc jockey in Colombo, Sri Lanka, introduced Mignonne to The Jetliners in 1965. Later, he would go on to play their music on his popular radio program on BBC Radio London called ‘London Sounds Eastern‘ in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mignonne married Tony Fernando and was later known as Mignonne Fernando.

Mignonne & The Jetliners signed what was to be a 3 month contract to perform at the famous Regent Hotel in Hong Kong. Only a few weeks into their 3 month contract, the Regent decided to extended their contract. The Jetliners performed at the Regent for 17 years thereafter.

They didn't just sing Sinhalese wedding songs. Mignonne & The Jetliners were a groovy 60's outfit that made a dance floor jam.

The Ceylonese wedding song, which brought Mignonne to fame, is influenced by the lazy, easy, island feel. The flute is magical.

It may take some time to grow on you, it eventually does.

BTW Mangala means wedding in Sinhalese and Mohotha means moment. The song is about a bride to be on the day before her wedding.

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