Additional Pics by Joshwa D'Souza
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru
Mangaluru, Jan 14: Singer, song writer, composer, dramatist, actor, guitarist, drummer, Congo player and comedian – Claud D'Souza, well-known to the Konkani speaking Catholic community of this coastal region as a singer, has essayed all the above cited roles with flamboyance and with distinctiveness. It is no small achievement for a person to try his hand in diverse fields of art and culture and still find his niche in the spirited and likeable field of Konkani music. One of the longest survivors in the field who dared to take Konkani music as his career, Claud D'Souza is now on the threshold of celebrating his 50th Claud Nite, a musical extravaganza on January 17 to be held in the open grounds of Bendore Church.
In fact this milestone should have come much earlier in the life of 59 year old Claud D'Souza who has dedicated nearly four decades of his life in promoting Konkani music and culture. With his captivating stage presence he has entertained people with his singing and his on-stage persona as comedian. At a time when others thought it below their dignity he was bold enough to take Konkani music as his career, following in the footsteps of his mentor late Wilfy Rebimbus, whom he holds in high veneration.
"Organising musical shows involve expenditure as the expected standard has to be maintained. Personally it was not possible for me to put money and being shy and introvert it was not in my nature to go in search of sponsors for my musical nites," he says as he talks about the long and yawning gap between the 38th and the 50th nite scheduled held in Mangaluru. The last (38th) show was held in Mangaluru in August 2006 and it is almost after a decade his show is being organised in his home town. No doubt it has been a long journey for Kalashree Claud whose first solo musical nite was held in 1979 in Don Bosco Hall. Since then Claud Nites are organised from time to time in different parts of Mangaluru, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Middle East and even in Canada.
Compulsions beyond control
Whatever might be the compulsions it is said that it is better late than never and Claud D'Souza is all set to mark his golden jubilee nite with élan and with a stamp of his own on January 17th. The golden jubilee show is being held under the auspices of Karavali Konkans which has been quite active in promoting social and cultural cause of the Konkani speaking catholic community for the past several years. Claud being a parishioner of Bendore, St Sebastian Church, Bendore is also associating with Karavali Konkans in organising this gala musical programme. A galaxy of well-known Konkani singers Ivan Sequeira, Anita D'Souza, Archie Fernandes, Priyanka, Asha Menezes and Ashwin D Costa will join Claud in entertaining the 3000 odd music enthusiasts expected to attend the music show.
After the 38th nite Claud Nites were held outside Mangaluru mainly mainly in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Middle East and in Canada. Claud is the only Konkani artiste from Mangaluru who was flown from India to perform in Canada twice. Now, as a run up to celebrate the golden jubilee of his shows, six Claud Nites were organised in Mumbai from November 11 to 15th, 2015, bridging the gap that had begun with the 38th show. Konkani Kala Manch, Mumbai organised these nites in Mumbai and these show were received with an awe-inspiring response by Konkanis in Mumbai. And now Claud and his team is all set to present a blockbuster show in the presence of over 3000 crowd which is expected to throng the Bendoor church ground on January 17, 2016.
Modesty his virtue
As I ask him the secret of his longevity continuing as the evergreen shining star of Konkani music, he is slightly hesitant to enumerate his success. May be he feels his contribution is Lilliputian or is too diverse in assorted branches of Konkani and he is unable to put it in a nutshell. Despite his elephantine success as a multifaceted personality what is surprising is his humility that comes across in ample measure while conversing with him. Though he worked for about 4 years as an A C Mechanic, he is very vocal when he says his career in Konkani music and assorted fields was much more profitable than working for others and he decided to stick on to music.
It is however, not difficult to analyse the secret behind Claud’s longevity in Konkani stage in its various avatars. His commitment to his career in music is evident from the fact that the music beat group "Cosmic Rays" founded by him in 1978 along with Christopher, Joswin and Mervin could be having the distinction of being the longest surviving beat group. Having endured for 38 long years the onslaught of existing and new generation beat groups its survival certainly speaks volumes of Claud’s devotion and unflinching loyalty to Konkani music. The common wavelength of all the four members is equally responsible for its endurance.
It can be rightly said that music runs in his blood as his uncle was composing and singing songs and entertaining people through "Nathalancho Khel," organised in Bendore church premises during Christmas celebration. Being a bachelor he was part of the household and Claud has been inspired by the histrionics of his uncle. It was the Catholic Action League of Bendore that provided the platform initially and Claud’s talent blossomed under the watchful eyes Edwin Rodrigues whom he calls as his music guru. He learnt drums from Arnold Lobo, also from Bendore parish. Claud began to make his presence felt by composing songs for dramas. He also had acted in Dolfy Cascia’s plays and other plays staged by the Bendore parish.
It was by providence that Claud made an entry into Wilfy’s group as a Congo player, to begin with, in Wilfy’s 70th nite. Wilfy is known to encourage and guide other talents in the field and slowly Claud had graduated to singing some of the fast tracks of Wilfy. With the passage of time Wilfy even began to compose songs to suit the temperament and stage persona of Claud. The association continues even now though Wilfy is no more. "Associating with Wilfy is one of the most cherished periods of my life. He not only encouraged me but also guided me in my lyrics, compositions and even the rendering of the song. I used to show my songs to him and Wilfy with his invaluable experience guided me throughout my association with him," a grateful Claud recalls. Claud who partnered with Prem Kumar, another loyal member of Wilfy’s team, has entertained music lovers with some memorable duets.
As a tribute to this great legend who played a decisive role in shaping his music career, Claud is dedicating a song to his mentor Wilfy on the 50th nite titled "Konkan Kogulle Patin Ye" (come back Konkani Nightingale). Claud points out that this song has given him a sense of fulfilment and pleasure and I personally rate this as one of my good songs. In addition to his accomplishments as a singer composer, Claud has over 35 Konkani plays on social, historical and religious subjects, to his credit. He has 15 CD’s to his credit and has worked as a rhythm composer to albums of other artistes.
Claud is grateful to his parents, his wife Marie and daughters Maushmi and Melissa for all the support and encouragement they have given him in his pursuit to excel in Konkani stage. He also recalls with gratitude the support given by his friends, well-wishers in his success.
In his 60 summers Claud has fulfilled all his needs. But he could not fulfil his dream of going to Middle East in search of a career. "Those days going to gulf were common and I tried my level best but somehow I could not find a suitable job for my technical qualification. My friends, relatives and others tried but in vain," he explains. But Claud had his revenge as he has presented many shows in different parts of the Middle East.
"There is no retirement for musicians and the show must go on" he says scoffing off any plans of retirement. That is really good news for all fans of Claud D'Souza. With his commitment to Konkani music Claud is sure to entertain music lovers with some breathtaking tracking on his 50th musical nite and also in his next music shows. Let us hope Konkani music fans continue their patronage to Claud D'Souza.