Yesudas | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
comment

Three years ago my friend and I almost got crushed to death trying to catch a glimpse of Kattassery Joseph Yesudas at a concert he gave in the south Indian city of Mysore. But it was worth it. Despite being Catholic--"yesudas" is Sanskrit for "servant of Jesus"--the versatile 65-year-old tenor is one of the country's most revered singers of classical south Indian Carnatic music and the Hindi devotional songs called bhajans. He's also one of India's most popular playback singers--most sound tracks to Bollywood and other Indian films are lip-synched by the on-screen talent--and he claims a catalog of 30,000 songs, performed in 16 of the 18 languages recognized by India's constitution. He got his first break in 1961, singing in the film Kaalpadukal, and a verse in one of its songs--"This is a model place where all the people live like brothers and sisters, unaffected by the difference of caste and the enmities of religion"--has become something of a personal creed. (He's received numerous awards for his humanitarian work.) Yesudas was classically trained and sings in a resonant, honeyed voice; purists complain about his accented Hindi, but radio stations go right on playing his movie hits, like the melancholy "Koi Gata Main So Jana" from the 1977 film Alaap and "Jaaneman Jaaneman Tere Do Nayan," an exuberant duet with Asha Bhosle from 1975's Chhoti Si Baat. (Those songs are included on two greatest-hits compilations released by Saregama.) Splitting his time between Madras and Florida, he continues to do sound-track work; he'll sing some film hits at this show, part of a U.S. tour, but he'll emphasize Carnatic music. He'll be backed by violinist B.U. Ganesh Prasad and two percussionists, Sriam Riam and Anand Krishman. Sun 8/28, 6:30 PM, Taft High School, 6545 W. Hurlbut, 773-491-8235 or 312-296-4433, $30-$100. All ages.

Add a comment