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Kamahl 3.png
Background information
Birth name Kandiah Kamalesvaran
Born (1934-11-13) 13 November 1934 (age 83)
Kuala Lumpur, Federated Malay States
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1958–present
Labels Philips
Mercury Records
Festival Records
Dino Records
Reader's Digest
ABC Music

Kamahl is the stage name of Kandiah Kamalesvaran AM (Tamil: கந்தையா கமலேஸ்வரன்; born 13 November 1934), a singer and recording artist active in Australia, perhaps best known for "The Elephant Song", and his repertoire of popular music.

Early life[edit]

Born in Kuala Lumpur to Tamil Hindu parents, he grew up in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, and studied at the Victoria Institution.

He arrived in Adelaide, South Australia in 1953 to receive a higher education at King's College (now Pembroke School)

Music career[edit]

At his first public performance in 1958 he shortened his name to Kamal, but the master of ceremonies announced him as "Camel". After that he changed the spelling to Kamahl.[1]

As he made his way into the Australian music industry, Rupert Murdoch was an early important mentor. Murdoch tipped Kamahl £10 at a concert in December 1958 and encouraged him to move to Sydney. Without asking, Murdoch arranged for Kamahl to perform a six-week season at the Australia Hotel in Sydney.[2] After that season, he boarded with the Murdochs for two years.[1] Kamahl was a finalist in the Sydney Eisteddfod Sun Aria in 1966 singing Verdi's "Ella giammai m'amò" and Mussorgsky's "Farewell and Death of Boris".

It was about this time that he co-wrote and sang the theme song for the long-lost feature film called Journey Out Of Darkness, made through the services of Supreme Sound Studios, Paddington, Sydney, and filmed around Orange, New South Wales.[3]

Kamahl has performed at the London Palladium and Carnegie Hall, as well as pubs and clubs throughout Australia. In 1982 Queen Elizabeth II asked him to give a Royal Command performance in Brisbane for the Commonwealth Games there.

His first album was A Voice to Remember, which was released in Australia in October 1967. He has released singles and albums in the United States, Canada, Britain, New Zealand, South America, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Germany (in German), as well as in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Scandinavia. From 1967 onwards in Australia his records, tapes and CDs were primarily on the Philips label, but he also recorded on EMI, Mercury, Festival, Dino and Reader's Digest.

In 1975, his single, "The Elephant Song"[4] (composed and produced by Hans van Hemert) hit the number one spot on the Dutch Top 40, the Nationale Hitparade (currently Single Top 100)[5] and the Belgian BRT Top 30.[6] This song was part of the soundtrack of a World Wildlife Fund TV documentary.

He has been in the Australian music industry for fifty years, and throughout that time has made some memorable TV and film appearances, as well as concerts. He was one of the first people to appear in concert at the Sydney Opera House. He was a particularly popular guest on the variety show Hey Hey It's Saturday. In 2004 he appeared at the Big Day Out rock festival, and the year before he had cameos in the Australian films Harvie Krumpet and Fat Pizza.

In 2005 he released Imagine the World in Unison. He has made appearances as a judge on The X-Factor and has a sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola. On 19 September 2007 he featured on The Chaser's War on Everything on ABC TV where he sang for a 'newly-wed couple' who turned up uninvited at his door.

In early 2008, Kamahl reunited with his old school, Pembroke (then Kings College), and went on tour in the United States with the Pembroke Symphony Orchestra.

In recent years, Kamahl has released albums through ABC Music; a Christmas album entitled Peace On Earth,[7] and a 3CD collection of favourites entitled Heart and Soul: For Lovers Of Life.[8]


Charting singles[edit]

Year Single Chart positions[citation needed]
1969 "Sounds of Goodbye" 19
"You've Got To Learn" 39
1970 "All I Have To Offer You (Is Me)" 49
1971 "100 Children" 34
"Danny Boy"
(B-side of above track)
1972 "Love Is a Mountain" 86
1973 "Shame" 93
1974 "Our Love Song" 56
1975 "The Elephant Song" 55
1981 "Before You There Was Nothing" 96
"Hey There Lord" 100

Television appearances[edit]

In 1988 Kamahl appeared in a television commercial for Dilmah tea.[9]

In 2009, he accused the Australian TV show Hey Hey It's Saturday of having treated him in a way that smacked of racism, during his past guest appearances. His feelings were revealed to the Australian public shortly after Harry Connick, Jr. complained of a "black faces" skit for the show's "Red Faces" segment.[10]

Kamahl appeared in an episode of Australian TV quiz show Spicks and Specks which first went to air on 8 September 2010.[11]

In 2007 he made commercials for Australian Cable Channel Fox8, advertising their WWE programming.[12]

In 2012, Kamahl made appearances in Prime's show The Unbelievable Truth.[13]

In May 2013, an Australian drama, Offspring, aired an episode which featured Kamahl in a minor role as a medical specialist.[14]

Awards and recognition[edit]

He received another Australian honour when he was included in "Our Entertainers of the 20th Century" in May 2006. Organised by the Variety Club of Australia, the top entertainers of the century included Kylie Minogue, Dame Joan Sutherland, Jack Thompson and Graham Kennedy.[16]


  1. ^ a b "Transcripts: Kamahl". Talking Heads with Peter Thompson. ABC. 15 August 2005. Retrieved 5 June 2007. [dead link]
  2. ^ Shane Maloney; Chris Grosz (November 2010). "Rupert Murdoch & Kamahl". The Monthly. Retrieved 15 September 2018. 
  3. ^ Richard Kuipers. "Curator's notes Journey Out of Darkness (1967)". Australian Screen Online. Retrieved 15 September 2018. 
  4. ^ Lyrics and audio for The Elephant Song
  5. ^ "Kamahl – The Elephant Song". Dutch Charts (in Dutch). Hung Medien. 
  6. ^ "The Elephant Song – Kamahl". Radio 2 (in Flemish). Brussels: VRT. 2008. Archived from the original on 9 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "Kamahl – Peace On Earth". ABC Music. Retrieved 2015-12-14. 
  8. ^ "Kamahl – Heart and Soul". ABC Shop. Retrieved 2015-12-14. 
  9. ^ "Brand Kamahl sings on". The Australian Financial Review. 4 July 2013. Retrieved 2017-09-26. 
  10. ^ McCabe, Kathy; Byrnes, Holly (9 October 2009). "Livid Kamahl has had enough of Hey, Hey It's Saturday". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. 
  11. ^ "Spicks and Specks – 8:30pm Wednesday, September 08 2010". ABC Television. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  12. ^ FOX8 – Promo – WWE Vs Kamahl 'Spit' on YouTube
  13. ^ "The Unbelievable Truth". Yahoo7 Television. yahoo 7 Australia. 
  14. ^ David Knox (28 May 2013). "Look who's acting in Offspring this week…". TV Tonight. 
  15. ^ "It's an Honour – Honours – Search Australian Honours". www.itsanhonour.gov.au. Retrieved 15 September 2018. 
  16. ^ Geocaching. "Variety Entertainers of the Century". geocaching.com. Retrieved 15 September 2018. 

External links[edit]