We mostly got to know her by the famous hit ‘’Tharumini ‘’ which she did with Chinthy several years back, and ever since then, she has reached up to becoming a popular music sensation among the youth and becoming a judge on one of the most popular Reality shows on TV, plus releasing some amazing hits to entertain the Sri Lankan audiences. She fondly recalls her official debut ‘’Neela Kandu ‘’ also her first appearance in and annual family concert ‘’Ru Sanda Rae’’, including her first movie performance in ‘’Sinhawalokanaya’’.
Today we feature the friendly and bubbly Raini Charuka Gunatillake. She shares her thoughts on music, her career and goes down the memory lane for us in general.
Q: How are you progressing with life these days ?
I am sure you’ve already heard this 1000 times but we are all getting used to the new norm. Most of us have figured it out new things to do rather than sticking to the same old career. Especially people like me who are in the entertainment industry.
However, through all this I’ve learnt to embrace life as it comes. I am now a Vocal Coach and hold Online Vocal Lessons. I coach around 60 students at the moment in addition to 3/4 of my team on The Voice Teens.
Q: Can you recall when you first entered the music industry?
The funny thing is I can’t really point a finger at a date and time and say “this is when I started my journey “. The main reason being my parents. I come from a family of two hard working musicians and my dad to this day works on a lot of jingles done for many brands. Whenever he recorded them, he would have me accompany him in singing even at a very young age of 4 or 5. He has my voice recorded in one of his albums and I was about 2 years when that happened.
However, I consider my official entry as a singer was back in 2009 when we first visited Sri Lanka after a very long time. I released my debut “Neela Kandu” and held our Annual family concert “Ru Sanda Rae” which enabled me to introduce myself to a humongous audience.
Q: Your parents being a popular musical duo, how did they support you in proceeding with your music career?
My parents have always been super supportive and encouraging when it comes to music, especially.
To be honest I didn’t know where to start my music career and what to do. Didn’t think too much into it. My dad composed and wrote a song for me (Neela Kandu) and he asked me to record my Voice into it, then mom suggested I shoot a video too and I loved that idea since I always wanted to. & 3 weeks later, it was on radio and TV.
Q: Tell us about your music academy, ‘’ The Music School’’.
As I touched base on me being a vocal coach earlier has to with my childhood dream of having a Music School in Sri Lanka one day. With having to experience great performing arts schools in New York, I really wanted Sri Lankan’s to have access to at least a fraction of that experience and education. I’ve only had the chance to begin online vocal lessons at the moment because I don’t believe in learning / teaching instruments online. Maybe new technology will come our way pretty soon that would enable us to experience online learning equally as successful as physical studies.
‘TMS by R’ – The Music School by Raini offers: Vocal Lessons by me, which also includes live singing, recording, performance, hygiene maintenance, personality and character building and maintenance to a lot more things needed to be a successful artist anywhere in the world. We also offer Western Music Practicals & Theory (IWMS), Hindustani Classical Music, Bhathkande Exams, Accoustic Guitar (IWMS), Professional Western Drums, Violin & Guitar (Classical for exams), Percussion and etc
Q: You were also on the judging panel of the ‘’Teen Voice ‘’. How do you see the talents and skills of the participants?
Yes, I am a member of ‘The Voice’ family which is quite a remarkable accomplishment for any musician worldwide. Very humbled about it. 95 percent of everyone who comes up on that stage are born talents and I find it quite amazing. The reason why I am completely stunned sometimes is because these kids have no access to proper performing arts schools here in Sri Lanka, but they’ve self learnt with imagination and YouTube etc. This is just their start, I think we are going to see a lot more promising, energetic, career oriented, talented perfectionists in the near future.
Q: How do you deal with the different decisions and opinions of your fellow members of the judging panel?
It’s always about respect and accepting that everybody has their own sense about things and to know that this is the very reason why they are sitting alongside you so that we can have intelligent disputes about things. Which is a good thing in my opinion. If our opinions didn’t clash, it wouldn’t make sense to sit there agreeing to everything.
Q: Being in a music family, what is your favourite song out of your parent’s songs?
To be honest I’m a huge fan of my father’s creations. I’ve noticed that I love every song my father has created for anyone. Let me answer your question this way… let me tell you what song of my parents I’m listening to the most these days. I am a 100 percent stuck on one of my dad’s early creations called “Ela Paare Thiththa Pataw” and “Bolpini” from 1983.
Q: What is the most memorable moment of your music career?
When I first heard my debut “Neela Kandu”on radio for sure.
It’s a feeling I cannot put into words. I was in my dorm with my laptop, streaming a Sri Lankan radio channel. What an unforgettable moment that was. I cried, I laughed.
Q: What are the qualities you see in a good musician?
A good musician is always helpful towards other talents. They lift each other up. A musician is always good, kind, sympathetic and empathetic, which is how lyricists write and composers come up with melodies that touch your mind and singers sing to your heart. Music isn’t restricted to caste systems or how financially able one is. That is something everyone needs to remember I feel.
Q: Any idea of releasing a new song or an album?
Yes! I haven’t released a single in 6 years and I’m finally ready with one coming soon and my first album too. We had to push the dates further because of the pandemic.
Q: How do you think the pandemic has affected the music industry?
All musicians and people in entertainment have been deadlocked since the Easter Attacks in 2019 and have been successfully disregarded to this day. I think we are the least looked upon crowd by the government and I believe those are strong signs of a weak country. I strongly believe that a developing country, a successful country can be determined by how well the Entertainment Trade of the country is doing. It is disheartening to know that thus country cannot recognize the gravity of having a thriving entertainment industry.
Q: Looking back at your journey so far, how do you feel?
I feel happy and I’m proud. I have a long long way to go and my journey will not end anytime soon. and sometimes I also wonder what it would have been like to have what we have in a different country. I often look at my father and wish his work was appreciated more.