Singers pay soul-warming tribute to Ghazal singer Umbayee at General Hospital

Kochi, Aug 08: In remembrance of the late Malayalam ghazal singer and composer Umbayee, Mehboob Memorial Orchestra paid a musical tribute to him, offering a bouquet of soul- warming songs at the weekly ‘Arts and Medicine’ programme organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) at the Government General Hospital here today.

Umbayee, a leading Kerala exponent of ghazals, enriched the music form that has Sufi origins in Arabia. He had performed earlier at ‘Arts and Medicine’ programme in 2015 and also inaugurated the ‘Kochi Ghazal’ musical series at the hospital.

The team of singers from Mehboob Memorial Orchestra, comprising Junior Mehboob, Abdul Salam, Majeed Ali, Naushad Sulaiman and Yahiya Azeez together with Bengali folk singer Rita Chakraborthi, paid their respects to the iconic singer through mellifluous renditions that garnered resounding applause from the crowd. In all, they sang 11 songs that included some ghazals—the genre of music that Umbayee followed.

Rita, who turned up at the hospital to attend the 231st episode of the programme, had requested for a chance to sing on the stage, which was granted. She used the opportunity to sing a Bengali folk song. The singers were applauded for their gripping performance by the crowd comprising patients, bystanders and the medical staff.

‘Mazhayil Kulicha’, ‘Amme Sarvam Sahe’, ‘Oru Nokku Kaanuvanayi’, ‘Piriyuvan Nerathu’, and ‘Paduka Saigal’ were among the numbers which were sung at the musical programme.

Born in Mattancherry near Fort Kochi, Umbayee (originally known as P A Ibrahim) was a gifted singer who captivated thousands of music lovers by his unique style of ghazal renditions of old Malayalam songs.

The singer composed music for poems written by literary legends like ONV Kurup and Satchidanandan and also sang immortal ghazals of the iconic Mehdi Hassan and Jagjit Singh, among others. He combined with prominent music directors and lyricists in Kerala and released more than 10 albums. He was trained under Ustad Munawar Ali Khan for seven years and was deemed as an inevitable presence in Kerala’s cultural evenings.

A joint initiative of the KBF and Mehboob Memorial Orchestra, the all-Wednesday ‘Arts and Medicine’ programme seeks to provide solace to patients through therapeutic music.  

“It’s been only days since the singer Umbayee Saab has been taken away from our midst but his ghazals live on through his music; his voice is still alive in our lives and it is a legacy to cherish. He was a true inspiration to many, and this is our homage to the music stalwart whose death created a void which can only be filled through recreations of his music,” said Junior Mehboob.

KBF President Bose Krishnamachari inaugurated the programme, which was dedicated to the late singer.

K. A Hussain, Secretary, Mehboob Memorial Orchestra; Bonny Thomas, Trustee, KBF; and veteran CPI(M) leader M M Lawrence also spoke at the event.


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