Kandiah Kamalesvaran (Tamil: ) or Kamahl (born 13 November 1934) is the stage name of an Australian cabaret/easy listening singer and recording artist who is perhaps best known for his song The Elephant Song, as well as his sensitive interpretations of standards in the repertoire of popular music. Kamahl began his music career in small time band "Radial Arm".
Born in Malaysia to Tamil Hindu parents, he is of Sri Lankan Tamil heritage. He grew up in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur and studied at the Victoria Institution.
He arrived in Adelaide, South Australia in 1953 to receive a higher education at King's College (now Pembroke School), however, his arrival was not without prejudice on the part of an Australia still influenced by the White Australia Policy. This experience gave bite to his well-known quote: "Why are people so unkind?"
At his first public performance in 1958 he shortened his name to Kamal, but the Master of Ceremonies announced him as "Camel". After that he changed the spelling to Kamahl.
As he made his way into the Australian music industry, Rupert Murdoch was an early important mentor. Murdoch tipped Kamahl ?10 at a concert in December 1958 and encouraged him to move to Sydney. Without asking, Murdoch arranged for Kamahl to perform a six-week season at the Hotel Australia in Sydney. After that season, he boarded with the Murdochs for two years.
Kamahl has performed at the London Palladium and Carnegie Hall, as well as pubs and clubs throughout Australia. In 1982 Queen Elizabeth II asked him to give a Royal Command performance in Brisbane for the Commonwealth Games there, and in 1984, he sang with Cathy Lee Johnson at the LA Variety Telethon.
His first album was A Voice to Remember, which was released in Australia in October 1967. He has released singles and albums in the United States, Canada, England, New Zealand, South America, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Germany - this last in German - as well as the Netherlands, Belgium and all the Scandinavian nations. From 1967 onwards in Australia his records, tapes and CDs were primarily on the Philips label, but he also recorded on EMI, Mercury, Festival, Dino and Readers' Digest.
In 1975, his single The Elephant Song (composed and produced by Hans van Hemert) hit the number one spot on the Dutch Top 40, the Nationale Hitparade (currently Single Top 100)and the Belgian BRT Top 30. This song was part of the soundtrack of a World Wildlife Fund TV documentary.
He has been in the Australian music industry for fifty years, and throughout that time has made some memorable TV and film appearances, as well as concerts. He was one of the first people to appear in concert at the Sydney Opera House. He was a particularly popular guest on the variety show Hey Hey It's Saturday. In 2004 he appeared at the Big Day Out rock festival, and the year before he had cameos in the Australian films Harvie Krumpet and Fat Pizza. He collaborated with the Wiggles for some of their performances, showing his inter-generational appeal.
His latest album is Imagine the World in Unison as of 2005. He is also making appearances as a judge on The X-Factor and has a sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola.
On 19 September 2007 he featured on The Chaser's War on Everything on ABC TV where he sang for a 'newly-wed couple' who turned up uninvited on his door.
He recently made commercials for Australian Cable Channel Fox8, advertising their WWE programming.
In early 2008, Kamahl reunited with his old school, Pembroke (then Kings College), and with renowned conductor Kevin Cameron went on tour in the United States with the Pembroke Symphony Orchestra.
Awards and Recognition
Kamahl became a Member of the Order of Australia in 1994.
He received the Australian Father Of The Year award in 1998.
He was awarded The Australian Centenary Medal by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004.
He received another Australian honour when he was included in 'Our Entertainers of the 20th Century' in May 2006. Organised by the Variety Club of Australia, the top entertainers of the century included Kylie Minogue, Dame Joan Sutherland, Rolf Harris, Jack Thompson and Graham Kennedy.
All Kamahl lyrics
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