Desmond de Silva
Desmond de Silva is a Sri Lankan singer and entertainer, noted for his youthful voice that has changed little over four decades of performing, and regarded as the "King of Baila." Born in Matara in southern Sri Lanka, De Silva is now resident in Australia and has performed to packed concert halls across the world.
1960s in Ceylon
"Des," as he is known to his fans, launched his career in popular music in Colombo in 1963, he was the lead vocalist of the Fire-Flies. His music was featured widely on Radio Ceylon and subsequently the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, the oldest radio station in South Asia. Des has also performed with leading Sri Lankan pop groups - "Spitfires," "Gabo and the Breakaways," and the "Jetliners." He sang a song titled 'Oba Nisa' with Mignonne Fernando and the Jetliners - it was hailed as a musical masterpiece at an international song festival. In 1976 he decided to form his own band, "Desmond and the Clan", which performed in various countries in Southeast Asia, including the Maldives. In 1984, de Silva decided to go solo.
International song contests
Forty Year in Showbiz
He has celebrated 40 years in show business, selling millions of CDs around the world. De Silva is known for his popular renditions of Sri Lankan 'baila' music, which is a style whose origins are in Portuguese and Spanish music. He has had a string of baila hits including: 'Polkatu Hande,' ' Yaman Bando (Wally Bastiansz),' 'Chuda Manike,' 'Mamma No,' 'Miss Sri Lanka,' 'Hai Hui baby Achchi(Wally Bastiansz),' 'Rajasangabo' 'Komali Pane,' as well as popular recordings of anonymous baila songs. He is also known for a whole range of 'Party Time' non-stop baila music sold around the world.
Championing the cause of Autism
De Silva has championed the cause of autism and Asperger syndrome: he created history in August 2005 by being the first Sri Lankan musician to appeal on behalf of autistic children and people with autism in Sri Lanka, urging Sri Lankans to 'speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.' De Silva received a standing ovation.
De Silva told thousands at the BMICH in Colombo: ' Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder affecting so many around the world. Autism is not mental illness, these children and adults think differently. Albert Einstein they say was autistic. How many in the audience know that there are 38,000 autistic people in Sri Lanka? So we as entertainers, urge you all to 'speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.' Lets spread awareness of autism, particularly when numbers of autistic children are rising and we urge our government to also provide public services – who knows we may even produce Albert Einsteins if we provide education, health, specialist speech therapy for autistic children in our lovely island....'
Desmond de Silva launched the first ever Concert for Autism for Sri Lanka in Sydney, Australia on 31 March 2006.
He remains one of Sri Lanka's popular entertainers and is in heavy demand in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, India and other places.
Quotes on Desmond de Silva
' Desmond de Silva is one of Sri Lanka's leading musicians - he has popularized Sri Lankan baila music all over the world and has appeared as far afield as Los Angeles, New York, Melbourne, London, Auckland, Dubai, Bahrain, New Delhi and Singapore.'
' Yes... they all came in droves to hear and see their hero back in high action at the sold out concert at BMICH. The older fans to savour the event and listen to their favourite songs, while the young eager to enjoy, maybe for the first time, Desmond Live in Concert - a concert with an unexpected difference. It was also a night for the elite in the music world, theatre, fashion and society - sure they were not going to miss out on this extravaganza and Desmond's acclaimed showmanship....'
' Desmond has a heart of gold, he is reaching out to people with autism and the Autism Awareness Campaign Sri Lanka are grateful to the 'King of Baila' for raising awareness about the condition. Desmond de Silva is making a difference.He has enthralled audiences all over the world. His CDs have sold millions all over the globe.Desmond was touched to hear about the plight of 38,000 autistic children in Sri Lanka - only a handful are being helped in schools and parents, carers and autists have to struggle to access public services in health, education specialist speech therapy and respite care on the island.'
'Mr de Silva, who has been performing for over 40 years, is expected to perform some of his top hits.The artist has performed to sell-out crowds all over the world and will be performing for the first time at The Warbler, Baisan International Hotel in Bahrain.An accomplished singer of English songs, he began his musical journey in 1963 with the band, Fireflies.The singer has also worked with SriMirage, the band currently performing at The Warbler, and today's show will mark their reunion.....'
- World Music Central: Desmond de Silva Autism Fundraiser in Sydney Australia
- Autism Sri Lanka: Desmond de Silva Autism Concert in Sydney
- Desmond de Silva appeals on Autism
- Desmond de Silva presents a Lifetime Achievement Award
- Listen to Desmond de Silva on Sinhala Jukebox
- Desmond de Silva on Sinhala Songs Page
- Desmond de Silva on the Myuru Gee Library
- World Music Central Article on Sri Lankan Musicians
- Sunday Observer Article on Desmond de Silva's 40 years in Showbiz
- Gulf Daily News Bahrain article