The way the river flows
Musician Ramesh Weeratunga talks to Tania Fernando of his search for identity
which helped his creative talent in a land far away from home
Since humming to himself as a kid and being told that he was singing
'boru sindu', Ramesh Weeratunga has travelled many miles to prove that
he indeed has his own unique style and that originality is a key word in
Having left Sri Lanka for Germany in 1973 and sung in clubs in Berlin,
he moved on to recording and song writing. He went on to work for the likes
of Sally Oldfield, Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues (yes, the group who
sang Nights in White Satin) and other German artistes. He was also involved
with the team that wrote the song Power of Love, which was sung by Jennifer
Rush. "I was in the clouds when Justin Hayward sang one of my songs," he
Although Ramesh was born and lived as a teenager in Sri Lanka, when
he moved to Germany he went through the process of looking for his roots.
"I knew I was Sri Lankan, but I felt a Westerner at the same time and I
felt a need to find my roots," he explains. His search for identity helped
him write, bringing out the creative and spiritual side of his personality.
Back in Sri Lanka he used to play with a band called 'The Bugs', during
the Beatles era. "We used to make a lot of noise at that time, and be very
revolutionary and rowdy," he reminisces.
Although he was planning on studying music in England, Ramesh ended
up in Germany. "That's how the river of life flows," he says philosophically.
He has been living in Germany for the last 30 years and visits Sri Lanka
to see his mother, Kokiladevi Weeratunga who used to be a singer in her
time. Music runs in his blood, it seems.
September 2001 saw Ramesh release an album titled "The Visitor" which
made it to the 29th position in the European world music charts. Ramesh
said that he chose the title 'The Visitor' as he believes we are all visitors
on this planet and there should be no racial discrimination.
He started working on this album in 1997 and it was completed in 2000
with Ramesh writing, producing and arranging all the songs. The album was
recorded in Sri Lanka and India.
"I have always wanted to be myself and did not want others to change
me. I used to experiment with Sri Lankan and Western music, and I think
that's what attracted producers to me," said Ramesh.
Although Ramesh has his own studio that he launched in 1996 after having
studied recording technology, he works for a radio station called 'MultiKulti'.
They play of world music all day long. World music? "It's not the normal
US and UK chart toppers, but other African and Asian music which is hardly
given airplay on radio stations. The station also promotes new music from
all parts of the world. "You could call it the unseen music," he smiles.
Right now with the focus on peace, one of the songs on his album is
aptly titled, "Serendib I wish peace on you".
"Take us to a happier place, a new land of grace, Serendib, I wish peace
on you. If we separate we will lose, all together as one, we can share
a setting sun," go the lines.
Success is all about being happy within yourself, says Ramesh and he
is very happy right now.