She has been dubbed ‘Sri Lanka’s Ambassadress of Song,’ Mignonne Fernando enjoys iconic status not only in South Asia but also in the Far East, where, for many years she was a resident musician at The Regent Hotel in Hong Kong. She will headline a massive concert in Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka in March 2006. This will be an opportunity for fans of Mignonne and The Jetliners to re-live nostalgic memories of the 1960s and 1970s of the popular music scene on the island
Mignonne is truly an international star and has performed from the United States to Singapore. She has wowed audiences at the Taj in Mumbai in India for several years.Mignonne Fernando exploded onto the Ceylonese music scene in 1963 when as Mignonne Rutnam she won a song contest on Radio Ceylon. The radio station is the
oldest and one of the finest broadcasting institutions in South Asia.
Legendary broadcasters such as Livy Wijemanne, Vernon Corea, Jimmy Bharucha, Nihal Bhareti and Vijaya Corea played her music and that of the Jetliners over the airwaves of Radio Ceylon and subsequently the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, making her a household name.
Vernon Corea who had introduced The Jetliners at the Coconut Grove at Galle Face Hotel in Colombo in the 1960s played the music of The Jetliners on his popular radio program on BBC Radio London called ‘ London Sounds Eastern’ in the 1970s and 1980s – it was produced by top BBC man Keith Yeomans. Mignonne Fernando’s music reached new British audiences in the capital.
She was managed by the music mogul the late Tony Fernando who married her – he
made her a star. Mignonne and the Jetliners had star billing in Sri Lanka. They
represented the country at international song contests.
A pivotal moment came in 2003 when Mignonne Fernando released her first CD titled ‘A Celebration of Life.’ Mignonne told the media: ‘Tony knew that I wanted to do this CD, and it was his dream too. Music to me, is a gift from God; I am forever in his debt, for this wonderful gift. My mother helped me to develop it, by her knowledge of it, and her encouragement. But it was because of Tony’s inspired management that my music sprouted and blossomed. I worked hard, to see that this dream of ours, Tony’s and mine, came true, by producing this album. It seemed to be an eternity in the making, but it has been a labour of love, and a total experience of mind, body and soul‘, she said of her CD.
The Sunday Observer in Sri Lanka noted: ‘Mignonne drew her early musical influences she tells us, from Franz Liszt, George Gershwin, Quincy Jones her favorite, Diana Ross and the many well known gospel singers. The music of the Motown World, Jazz and Dave Griusin hold a special place for her inspiration-wise.
The highlights of your CD?
"Mangala Mohotha, the lyrics for which is by the late Karunaratne Abeysekera,
I arranged and performed the song and introduced the flute by Sajeewa Gurusinghe.
There’s the song ‘Proud to be Sri Lankan’ for which the inspiration came fast after I saw the Imax film ‘Blue Planet’ – the journey of the space shuttle and when the astronauts said "there down below is beautiful Sri Lanka."
It took me by surprise I was spurred to compose. The lyrics came equally fast like the melody. Our people are forgetting what a beautiful country we live in and I hope the message I’m projecting in the song will be a lasting one.
There are other tracks like ‘Den Nivadu Kale’, my version of ‘Somewhere Over The
Rainbow’ which was featured on VOA by Judy Massa and broadcast on Simultaneous
Satellite Broadcast Worldwide." And of course the Overture which I wrote for the
Mignonne and the Jetliners Australia 2000 tours, ‘ she said.
An outstanding track on her CD ‘Celebration of Life‘ is called ‘Island
Song’ a fusion of hip hop and tabla. This song deserves to be played on western
radio stations – by all accounts it should be an international hit if only
someone would promote the very best of Sri Lanka’s musicians in the west.
Mignonne received a huge ovation when she appeared on stage at a ‘Grand Salute
to Vijaya Corea’ at the BMICH in Colombo. She will play Colombo in March 2006
before spending time in the United States.
To hear Mignonne Fernando’s hit: ‘Island song’ please access the website sinhalajukebox.org