From the editor’s desk :-
Dear Konkani music lovers,
Once again a hearty and a warm welcome to your most favourite music column ‘Do..Re..Me..Fa..’. I am truly indebted for your unstinted great support and encouragement that keeps us moving in our marathon walk in this vast music arena. We were really thrilled to read your overwhelmed comments on our recent musical chord on Lancy Moras!
The month of November in Catholic calendar is dedicated to pray for the departed souls. Keeping in mind this intention, Do..Re..Me..Fa.. takes the opportunity to pay homage to all the departed melodious souls who contributed immensely to enrich Konkani music during their journey on earth!
As we remember those immortal souls my heart goes out to a music legend, who in his very shortened life on earth captured every soul through his unique music talent. In this distinctive music column I was trying to present this legend for the past one decade without success! But now the opportunity has come to introduce him in Do Re Me Fa. Though I had no opportunity to meet and see his performance personally, I was truly fascinated to listen to his immortal Konkani songs that includes all time favourite...
“Kallza thaun mog tuzo hamv kortam
sodanch tuza mogak axetam
ratik moga sopnnant tuka dektam
vengun tuka uxeak kis ditam
Rosalina... Rosalina... Rosalina... Rosalina...
Tum moga henne tenne vatt chomkatana
guman korinam-i mhoji bhirmot tuka na
tuka hamv mhojench korun sangata bhomvtana
lok sogllo bott zoktolo amkam dektana
Rosalina... Rosalina... Rosalina... Rosalina...
Lhan thaun ason ami sangata
bunead ghali nhoingi amchea mogak
chonchol mogan bai tum fottvonaka
hamv kedinkch moga visorchona tuka
Rosalina... Rosalina... Rosalina... Rosalina...
Yes, legends after legends beautified this music column and this month too it is up with another legend. This great music personality would’ve captured the entire Konkani world if he was alive. The legend whom I’m talking about is none other than one and only fondly known as Guitar Henry “Amar.. Henry T. D’Souza!”
I’m highly indebted to my buddy Florine Roche for all her investigative work in presenting this unique musical chord.
Thank you dear browzers for taking your time out to browze this column. We shall meet again next month, same site and same column with yet another sweet music chord. Until then, bye!
Yours in Do..Re..Me..Fa..,
Gerry D’Mello, Bendur
Henry T D'Souza – the light that dimmed leaving its radiance behind
Konkani music lovers cannot have enough of listening to the evergreen Konkani song ‘Juliana Juliana moga muja Juliana...” immortalised by the soothing and soulful voice of legendary singer late Hemant Kumar. The song has withstood the test of time because someone jammed it with a catchy tune and meaningful lyrics that really struck a chord among Konkani music lovers. Many of us may not be aware that the lyricist and composer of this popular number was late Henry Thomas D'Souza (acronym Henry T D'Souza) popularly known to everyone as Guitar Henry. There is a likelihood of most of us mistaking the composer of this popular song with the living legend Henry D'Souza of Mumbai of “Ye Ye Katrina” fame who is also a big name in Konkani music.
Henry T D'Souza, a talented musician has left an indelible mark in the Konkani music scene in a short span of 42 summers he spent on planet earth as accident (real or perpetrated) snatched away his life. By his untimely death Konkani music lost a gifted son whose musical talent and creative ingenuity would have enriched Konkani language and music to a considerable extent. Those who have associated with him, learnt under him, worked with him, listened to his music, hummed his tunes and lyrics or were a witness to his extraordinary music talent, vouch for his extraordinary talent and genius.
From what I have gathered talking to the people associated with him and also to his wife Valentine Emiliana Henry was a simple and humble soul, who loved to carry his two little daughters Jane and Merlyn in his arms soon after returning from office and preferred spending his free time on guitar humming his favourite tunes. At a time when Konkani music had no takers and even lacked patronage it was Henry who invigorated it by kindling that love for Konkani songs in the 60’s.
Childhood and accomplishments in music field
Henry Thomas D'Souza was born on 25th march 1931 in Modankamp in Bantwal Taluk. It is not known exactly when the family had come to Mangalore. But Henry was working for PFX Saldanha, located in Falnir. The family had a house in Attavar where he was staying with his mother and sister and he belonged to Milagres Parish. It is not known whether he was a self-made musician or inherited his talents from his family. Nevertheless he was proficient in many musical instruments.
He was playing Mouth Organ, Harmonium, violin, flute and even Trumpet apart from his favourite instrument Guitar. Adolphus Cutinha better known as “Dolla”, recalls that he was a talented Mouth Organ player before he switched allegiance to Guitar. Henry was professional guitarist and was a music teacher. People always found him with a guitar and in Attavar he was nicknamed “Guitar Henry”.
There is no clear information when Henry made his debut as a song writer or as music composer for films, Konkani plays or write perfect lyrics to the tunes of music of brass bands. Brass bands were an inalienable part of functions and events of Catholic people and these brass bands were quite popular in the 60’s and 70’s and the proved to be the perfect pedestal for Henry to demonstrate his music talent. He had a special knack for writing lyrics and composing tunes to waltz numbers and the songs caught public imagination making Henry a popular name in Konkani music. At a time when public response to the songs was only lukewarm Henry single-handedly shouldered the responsibility of rekindling the Konkani flavour among the people.
It was through the Konkani plays of photographer G D'Souza, known by his pen name Giri Chickmagalur, that Henry firmly established himself on Konkani stage. Henry was the music composer for all the 26 plays of Giri and the chemistry between them really worked wonders leaving a rich legacy to Konkani music.
While Henry’s popularity was at its zenith, thanks to the brass bands and plays that popularised his lyrics, he got offers to compose music for Konkani movies when some zealous Catholics ventured into producing movies in Konkani. When Peter Gonsalves of “Tisri Cheet” fame decided to produce the first ever Konkani movie from Mangalore, Henry T was chosen to write the songs and compose music. But Henry had already committed himself to composing music for late Gabbu Urwa’s unnamed movie and therefore he had suggested the name of Rony Bondel to write the songs. Tisri Cheet movie was jinxed from the beginning as it was beset with a battery of problems resulting in a delay of almost 7 years in its release.
Henry’s forte in music encompassed a wide range of fields. He was a composer, lyricist and instrumentalist who could play a handful of instruments. His wife Valentine recalls “playing guitar was his favourite pastime and he was always happy when he was playing guitar”.
Singer Melwyn Peris who is mulling presenting a musical evening at Kalangann based on Henry’s songs recalls “he was one of the best guitarists I have ever come across with immense talent and potential. He could enrapture the audience with his extraordinary talent and hold over the Guitar chords. I remember I had picked up one of his tunes when he had come to our home as he was composing music to the plays organised by “Sangeet Ghar”.
Though I was just six years old I was mesmerised by his guitar playing style”. Some of the popular songs composed by him are “Bapaiche Sthan”, “Moga tuji Chinthna Mothinth yethana” sung by Lizzy and Timoti, ‘Radonk Yetha thuka chinthana” and some Waltz songs like “Kaliz Tuvem Mujem Chirley” and many more. Dolla says Henry’s contribution is noteworthy because was the know-it-all musician having his pie in every field of music”.
The Month of March is significant in the life of a phenomenon called Hentry T D'Souza. He was born in March, got married to Emiliana on 30th March 1970 and finally left this world 29th March, 1973, leaving the Konkani music world poorer. Emiliana’s brother Oswald was working for PFX Saldanha and they were also distant relatives. Love blossomed between the two young birds resulting in their marriage age gap notwithstanding. The couple’s older daughter Jane Doris was born in 1971 followed by second daughter Merlyn in 1972 in quick succession. Emiliana’s eyes become damp when she recalls that Henry had a liking for girl children and he dotted on his daughters. It was a delight to see him amble in the courtyard carrying his daughters in both hands in the evening after returning from office. As Jane and Merlyne were toddlers they have no memories of their own about their father. But whenever they hear about his accomplishments they say they feel proud of their dad.
Emiliana was quite young at the time of the marriage and she says though Henry tried to familiarize her nuances of music she was not able to reciprocate as she was too preoccupied in bringing up their children. She also recalls that on the fateful day of his death on March 28th Henry had taken leave from his office and had spent the day at home talking to her, the very memories of which make her nostalgic.
Tragedy strikes in the form of accident
March 28, 1973 was the fateful day that took away the life of Henry in a freak accident though there are many unanswered questions about the accident. Tragedy struck when there were just three days for recording of the songs of Tisri Cheet. The group comprising singers like Rony Bondel, Victor Concesso and his sister Lizzy and many others had congregated in the house of Henry in Attavar for practice. Emiliana recalls that Henry had gone out in his scooter along with Rony Bondel to bring some curry from Jeeth Bar which was hardly about 120 meters from their home never to return. His wife and others were eagerly waiting at home for dinner. May be Henry was destined to leave this world at the peak of his life and therefore everything went haywire. When his brother-in-law Oswald came to know about the accident a few hours had already elapsed. To make the matter worse he was admitted to Wenlock hospital. Doctors attended on him only late in the evening as there was Mangalore Bandh on that day.
Emiliana recalls that he was alright and even talked to me though he was complaining of stomach ache when she met him in hospital the next morning. “He wanted to urinate but could not pass urine and his stomach was bloated. He was taken to the operation theatre for surgery at around 6 pm and was asking for drinking water. If I had even the slightest inclination I would have given him water”, she says with a choked voice. Within the next hour the family got the sad news of his demise. May be if timely treatment was given or if taken to Father Muller Hospital Henry would have survived.
After his demise Emiliana the young widow took the responsibility of tending for the family. She left her children in her mother’s care and went to gulf. After working there for a few years she settled with her children in Mumbai. She educated her daughters and got them married and now Jane and Merlyn are working in gulf with their respective families and are well off. His legacy continues through his daughters who carry on the responsibility in their own way.
Emiliana is now settled comfortably in Mangalore in her well-furnished palatial home in Nandigudda. Her brother lives in the adjacent house and her daughters take care of her and visit her whenever they come to Mangalore on vacation.
Though it is exactly four decades since Henry has left this world his legacy continues and people still recall Henry and his contributions to Konkani music. He gave a fillip to Konkani music when it was at its nascent stage. Many feel that if Henry were to live his full life he would have reached greater heights and attained international eminence. Despite his short stint in this earth he has left behind a deep-seated inheritance for which Konkani community will remain grateful forever.
May the departed melodious soul of Henry T D'Souza.. Rest In Peace!