Kattassery Joseph Yesudas or Jesudas, (born January 10, 1940) is an Indian classical musician and a playback singer. He has won the National Award for the best male playback singer seven times, the most by any singer. Yesudas sings Indian classical music, devotional and popular songs. He has recorded more than 40,000 songs in many languages including Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali, Gujarati, Oriya, Marathi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tulu, Malay, Russian, Arabic, Latin and English through his long career. He has been singing for most Indian languages exceptK J Yesudas Assamese and Kashmiri.He is fondly called 'Gana Gandharvan'.

Early life and background

K. J. Yesudas was born in Fort Kochi, Kerala, to Augustine Joseph and Alicekutty. His father, who was a well-known Malayalam classical musician and stage actor, was his first guru. Later he joined the Music Academy in Thrippunithura and underwent training. For a brief period, he was with Sri Vechur Hari Hara Subramania Iyer after which he took advanced training from Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, a maestro of Classical Music. Although he is a Carnatic Music expert, he mastered Hindustani Music. He has taken the words of Sree Narayana Guru, "One Religion, One Caste for all humans" to heart.


Yesudas began his career in playback singing in the Malayalam movie Kaalpadukal and Kollywood movies in the early '60s and by mid '70s he entered Bollywood. He has bagged seven National Film Awards for the best singer in the Indian film industry which is a record no singer has equalled, let alone surpassed. In 2006, he sang 16 film songs in four South Indian languages on the same day at AVM Studio, Chennai.

Yesudas has performed in many major cities around the world. In 1965, he was invited by the Soviet Union government to perform at music concerts in various cities in the USSR and also sang a Russian song over Radio Kazakhstan. In 2001 he sang for album Ahimsa in Sanskrit, Latin and English and in a mix of styles including New-Age and Carnatic.In his music concerts in the Middle East he sings Arabic songs in the Carnatic style . He frequently did the role of a cultural ambassador of India through his numerable performances abroad by promoting Indian Music.

He is the only singer who has been accorded the title Asthana Gayakan (Official singer) of Kerala State. He has been awarded the Padma Shri in 1975 and Padma Bhushan in 2002.In 1970, he was nominated to head the Sangeetha Nataka Academy of Kerala and was being the youngest person ever to occupy that post. In 1971, Yesudas with his musical troupe travelled all over Kerala to raise funds for the Indian Prime Minister's National Defense Fund during the Indo-Pakistani War. He also became Senate member in the International Parliament for Safety and Peace. On November 14, 1999, Yesudas was presented with an honorary award by UNESCO for "Outstanding Achievements in Music and Peace" at the "Music for Peace" event in Paris, a concert held to mark the dawn of the new millennium and whose attendees included artistes such as Lionel Richie, Ray Charles, Montserrat Caballé, and Zubin Mehta.


· Completed the Ganabooshanam course at R.L.V. Music Academy, Thripunithura, Cochin

· Graduated from the Sree Swathithirunal Music Academy, Trivandrum

· Trained under well-known musicians like K.R. Kumaraswamy (former principal of the Music College, Kochi), Kunjuvelan Aasan (a disciple of Nagaswera Vidwan Rajaratnam Pillai), Augustine Joseph, Ramakutti Bagavathar, Sivaraman Nayar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar.

Role Models

Shree Narayana Guru’s great message, "One caste, One religion and One God for all humanity", influenced young Yesudas in his dealings with his fellow men. He had his own heroes among the musicians too. Mohammed Rafi, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar and Balamurali Krishna are the ones he admired the most.

Personal life

Yesudas is married to Prabha for more than 30 years. They have three sons, Vinod, Vijay and Vishal. The second son Vijay Yesudas is a budding musician who won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer in 2007. The family is currently settled in Chennai and Trivandrum. He also owns estates in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA and Flower Mound, TX, USA for personal and business reasons.


· Oscar winner A.R. Rahman has publicly quoted as saying that Yesudas is his favourite singer and 'the most beautiful voice in the world is that of Yesudas'.

· Veteran music composer Ravindra Jain called him as Voice of India and Yesudas' face was the first he wanted to see if he ever received his vision.

· Legendary playback singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam has credited that Yesudas is his second favourite singer, after the late/great Mohammed Rafi.

· Popular singer S. Janaki has commented that Yesudas' voice was descended from heaven.

· Famous singer P. Susheela was quoted as saying 'his voice is like honey' and 'his music is like an ocean'.

Titles, Honours and Major Awards

· Padma Bhushan, 2002[8]

· Padma Shri, 1975[8]

· Doctorate by Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu in 1989.

· D.Litt by Kerala University, Kerala in 2003[13].

· D.Litt by Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala in 2009[14].

· Asthana Gayakan (Official Singer) by Government of Kerala

· Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1992[15]

· Asthana Vidwan (Official Teacher) by Udupi, Sringeri, and Raghavendra mutts.

· Sangeetha Sagaram (Music Ocean) in 1989.

· Sangeetha Chakravarthy (Music Emperor) in 1988 by Pallavi Narasimachary.

· Sangeetha Raja (Music King) by Chembai in 1974.

· Sangeetha Ratna (Music Jewel) by Lt. Governor of Pondicherry M.M. Lakhera.

· Swathi Ratnam (Swathi Jewel).

· Sapthagiri Sangeetha Vidwanmani in 2002.

· Bhakti Sangita Geetha Sironmani in 2002.

· Gaana Gandharva.

· Geetanjali Award by The ex-president of India Neelam Sanjiva Reddy.

· Sur Singar Samsad Award in 1976.

· Kalaimamani Award by Government of Tamil Nadu.

· Star of India Award by Lt. Governor of Pondicherry M.M. Lakhera.

· National Citizens Award in 1994.

· Mar Gregorius Award Governor RL Bhatia in 2006.

· Kerala Ratna by Jaihind TV in 2008.

· The Annual Latha Mangeshkar Award by Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1992.

· Dr. Pinnamaneni and Seethadevi Foundation Award in 2000.

· Senate member in the International Parliament for Safety and Peace, an organization incorporated in the United States.

· An Honorary award for "Outstanding Achievements in Music and Peace" by UNESCO in 1999.

· Susheela National Music Award in 2009.

· National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer a record seven times by the Government of India.

· State Film Awards a record Twenty three times for the best Playback singer by the Government of Kerala.

· State Film awards Eight times for the best Playback singer by the Government of Tamil Nadu.

· State Film awards Five Times for the best Playback singer by the Government of Karnataka.

· State Film awards Six times for the best Playback singer by the Government of Andra Pradesh.

· State Film awards One time for the best Playback singer by the Government of West Bengal.

National Awards

· 1972, Film Name: Achanum Bappayum, Language: Malayalam, Song: Manushyan Mathangale

· 1973, Film Name: Gaayathri, Language: Malayalam, Song: Padmatheerthame Unaru

· 1976, Film Name: Chitchor, Language: Hindi, Song: Gori Tera Gaon Bada

· 1982, Film Name: Meghasandesam, Language: Telugu, Song: Aakasa Desana

· 1987, Film Name: Unnikale Oru Kadha Parayam, Language: Malayalam, Song: Unnikale Oru Kadha Parayam

· 1991, Film Name: Bharatham, Language: Malayalam, Song: Rama Kadha Gaana Layam

· 1993, Film Name: Sopanam, Language: Malayalam


Music Festival

For the past 30 years Yesudas has been coming to Kollur Mookambika temple,Udupi, Karnataka on his birthday to sing keerthans of Saraswati devi, the Goddess of letters. Music festival was started from his 60th birth day. The nine-day music festival begins every January at Kollur Mookambika Temple.

Music Award

Swaralaya Yesudas award is a prestigious award for music artists in recognition to their outstanding performance. The award is instituted jointly by Swaralaya, an organization that promotes music and Kairali Channel, based at Trivandrum, Kerala. Awards have been given annually since 2000. Yesudas presents the awards at a Gandharva Sandhya every January.

Music Company

In 1980 Yesudas established the Tharangni Studio at Trivandrum. In 1992 the office and studio were moved to Chennai, Tamil Nadu and the company was incorporated in the US in 1998. Tharangni Studio and Tharangni Records became a recording center in Kerala which, for the first time, brought out audio cassettes of Malayalam film songs in stereo. The record company also had a voice mixing studio in Studio27, Chennai. The studio continues to produce and present events of Yesudas both for film and Indian classical music concerts throughout the world.