Sep 18, 2012
From the editor's desk :-
Dear Do..Re..Me..Fa.. browser,
We just concluded the celebration of Monthi Fest with pomp and glory. It's astonishing to see across the globe how the Mangaloreans have celebrated the birthday of our beloved heavenly mother. I salute all the Mangaloreans especially those who scattered in different continents of the world, for not forgetting their Konkani language, rich tradition and culture.
From my childhood the Monthi Fest celebration is very close to my heart. Incidentally in the year 2002 my Do..Re..Me..Fa.. column took birth on this esteemed web-portal just after the most cherished Monthi Fest celebration. My heart is bubbling with joy as your favourite music column melodiously completed one decade. I'm greatly indebted to you for your generous support and encouragement without which I would not have been here today.
As we enter the second musical decade, invoking blessings from our heavenly mother on all, I present to you this first Chord in this 2nd decade, a special Chord of Do..Re..Me..Fa..,a precious Diamond of Konkani Music and a very well known Princess of Konkani language and culture popularly known as "Konkani Abolem" who is none other than Joyce Ozario. Being the beloved wife of 'Vishv Konkani Kala Ratn' Baab Eric Ozario she too has contributed immensely for the Konkani language, art and culture.
I personally know Joyce for the past quarter century who is a highly talented singer. Music flows through each and every one of her veins and her love and dedication for Konkani music is unchallenged. The greatest quality I have noticed in her is her patience and understanding. Otherwise she wouldn't have successfully partnered her life with a stubborn and die-hard personality like Eric. I salute Joyce for being a back-bone in all his Konkani related ventures and a strong supporter of Eric during his thick & thin situations in life.
My special thanks for my Do..Re..Me..Fa.. partner Florine Roche for all her assistance in bringing out this special music chord.
Now it is my privilege to present to you this sweet chord of this unique Konkani music portal and I'm sure you will enjoy listening to this melodious chord. Once again I thank you for browsing this column.
Let's meet again next month with another musical Chord. Until then bye!
“Konkani Abolem” - Joyce Ozario
It is just a co-incidence that “Konkani Abolem” Joyce Ozario is celebrating 50 years of her singing career this year and that Do..Re..Me..Fa.. decided to feature her highlighting her contributions to Konkani music. It was a prodigious debut in singing for Joyce which began at the age of ten and she continued it for the next 50 next years with little prodding from people who have played a major role in shaping her life and some perspiration on her own part. Nevertheless, Joyce Ozario, the lady with sweet voice, has made valuable contributions to enrich Konkani music in her own modest way.
Family, childhood and the first steps in Singing…
Joyce Fontes was the 5th among the 7 children born to late John Fontes and late Theresa Fontes of Jeppu (5 boys and two girls) and was the first girl child born after 4 boys on 26th November 1952. Naturally she was the darling of the family and received extra attention from her parents and brothers. Though she did not have any formal training in music she was attracted to Hindi and Konkani songs and used to sing along with radio songs. “I did not have any training in music but used to hum songs all the time and that is when my family recognized I had a sweet voice for singing”, Joyce points out. The family did not have any music background as such and there was no scope for her music talent to bloom. Only her aunt Egledius Fontes had fondness for music and Joyce hanged on to that support. Her two brothers who had learnt guitar also had a positive influence on Joyce during her childhood.
The Turning Point
The turning point came when she was only 10 and father of Konkani Music Konkan Kogull Amar Wilfy Rebimbus who hailed from Jeppu parish to which Joyce belonged, requested her parents to permit her to participate in an inter-parish singing competition. On getting the permission of her father Wilfy trained her resulting in her bagging first place in that competition organized by Konkani Natak Sabha in under 10-category and from then onwards there was no looking back. She went on bagging more prizes and it was Wilfy who trained her for all these competitions.
After her SSLC in Marjil, Joyce showed no inclination to continue her formal studies. “I had brought the PUC form after passing SSLC but somehow did not evince keen interest in joining college”, she says as a matter of fact and on hindsight says she regrets her decision. Joyce also wanted to do nursing but due to her under age after SSLC she could not join nursing course. Instead, she learnt shorthand-typing and went to Bangalore for job where she stayed with her elder brother who was fond of her.
She came back and worked for sometime in Mangalore also. In the meantime, she had come in contact with Eric Ozario, Gurkar of the famed organization “Mandd Sobhann”, which is spearheading Konkani cause. Eric also belonged to Jeppu parish and love blossomed between these youngsters who also shared a common love for music. Their friendship culminated in marriage and that proved to be another turning point in her career. These lovely love-birds brought to this world highly talented musical fruits Dr.Rashmi Kiran and Rithesh.
Rhythmatic Journey in Konkani Music
Eric had two bands “Sweet Serenade” and “Konkani Dabazo” which provided music for marriages and other functions and it gave opportunity for the couple to sing Konkani songs. Once Eric set up Mandd Sobhann in 1986 these music bands were disbanded as singing in bands was not considered respectful and it did not provide the daily bread and butter. It was Mandd Sobhann which brought out the singing potential in Joyce doing justice to her melismatic singing. She says that while Wilfy Rebimbus gave her the initial push it was her husband Eric Ozario who brought out the best in her as a singer.
In her music career spanning 5 decades Joyce Ozario has sung hundreds of songs and has also has given hundreds of performances both in India and abroad. She has sung in about 10 Wilfy Nites (all before marriage) and has sung in about 20 music albums produced by Rang Tarang, Mandd Sobhann and other productions. She has also sung for Henry Nites and Paradela Nies.
It was no easy task managing the house, taking care of two kids and also concentrating on her singing. Somehow she did the balancing act without compromising with liberal help from her ever-supporting mother-in-law and Eric’s older sister who took care of the household work and even children when needed. In order to have some formal training the couple had decided to take the help of a music teacher who came home for teaching. But they could not sustain the momentum beyond 3 or 4 months amidst their hectic schedule.
Leaving an Imprint
Joyce has left her mark in Konkani music field with some memorable songs originally sung by her. Cha Fra D’ Costa’s brilliant lyrics “Abolyam Tuzo Rang go ……” has been wonderfully composed by Eric Ozario and Joyce’s singing has that ethereal beauty, thus leaving her special imprint in Konkani music. There are many Cha Fra songs sung by Joyce such as ‘Biri biri pavsa..”, Aaj mugeli asdi…” “Althody Dongrar …” etc., and her sweet voice and distinct style of rendering have left an indelible mark in Konkani music field. May be in the absence of “Mandd Sobhann’’ the singer in Joyce would not have been able to come out with such gems of Konkani songs.
Husband Eric who has rendered all possible help to bring out her talent says that Joyce lacked that aspiration to achieve something more. “Any artiste must have full confidence in his or her own capabilities. She did not realize her own potential and always needed that push every now and then to make her realize her true potential. She lacked that endeavoring spirit but when she was pushed to the wall her dedication was hundred percent” Eric declares.
Joyce has won many prizes at the various music competitions for her singing talent. Her achievement also includes being part of achieving entry in the Guinness Book of Records for “Konkani Niranthari” under the aegis of Mandd Sobhann. She was conferred the title “Konkani Abolem” in December last at the “Global Konkani Music Awards” ceremony organized by Mandd Sobhann, in recognition of her contributions. May be this act has not gone down very well with some Konkani music lovers who might have even questioned the sagacity of conferring this award on Joyce by their own organization. Even Ozario couple says they are not at ease with the idea of their own organization giving the award to Joyce. But Eric defends it saying “there is no other choice because no one else was doing it and we could not ignore it considering her humungous contributions to Konkani music. Her association with Mandd Sobhann might be a hindrance for others to recognize and honor her and therefore we had to do it”.
With Do..Re..Me..Fa.. Joyce spoke about her singing career, the milestones in her life, her regrets and about her future plans. “I still like listening to Konkani songs and music and my listening pleasure has not diminished even after five decades. I think music is something that can be enjoyed forever”. While concurring with her views one cannot resist asking her whether she has any unfulfilled dreams. “Singing in a movie (Konkani) is in my wish list and I hope to make this dream come true”, is her quick riposte.
She is contented with taking things as they come and have no big future plans except as she says “to sing as long as I can”. She says her children are her best fans and critics. Daughter Rashmi is married to music director and guitarist Alwyn Fernandes and had participated in many Konkani shows. Son Ritesh Kiran is also a talented musician and has sung in many shows and albums. Both the children are working in gulf and she takes delight seeing her grand children displaying their prodigal singing talents whenever they come on holidays.
Joyce has no regrets for not getting offers for singing from other groups and is content singing for Mandd Sobhann which she says has exploited her talent to the fullest.
She wants to convey her thanks to Konkani music lovers for their support and says lots of sacrifices have gone into her emerging as the sweetest voice in Konkani music. She is also happy that she has been able to make her own contributions to Konkani music.
Konkani Abolem Joyce is truly a precious Diamond of the Konkani Music. It is our wish that the sweet voice of Joyce Ozario should be able to enthrall Konkani music lovers for decades to come!