Sunil Perera, outspoken Sri Lankan singer, dies at age 68

Sep 10, 2021, 5:45 AM | Updated: 9:01 am

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Singer and musician Sunil Perera entertained generations of Sri Lankans with captivating songs, but won their minds and hearts with his outspoken comments against social injustice, corruption, racism and suppression of democracy.

Perera, a versatile singer, musician, composer and entertainer, died of apparent complications from COVID-19. He was 68.

Sunil tested positive for the coronavirus last month and was treated at a hospital in Colombo, the capital. He returned home last week, but was taken back to the hospital after his condition deteriorated and died on Monday.

He was cremated at Colombo’s main cemetery on the same day because of coronavirus-related health regulations, with attendees limited to immediate family members and friends.

In normal times, thousands of people would have attended the funeral, but the country has been under a coronavirus lockdown.

Sunil and his band, “Gypsies,” were stalwarts of baila, a form of music popular in Sri Lanka that is a remnant of Portuguese colonization.

“What made Sunil stand out in the music field was not only his brand of music, but his fearless intervention in political and social issues of the day that were reflected not only in his lyrics, but often expressing opinions none in his field dared tread,” the Daily Mirror newspaper said in an editorial Wednesday.

Sunil wrote and performed songs that focused mostly on Sri Lankan life and politics. He sang about election violence, corruption, unemployment and poverty. Other songs recounted a politician who lost an election, a ruined wedding anniversary and a drunken husband.

“Through his songs, Sunil presented how he saw the things in life and his own experiences in a very simple language, but very entertaining. People really like his songs and the way he presented them. He was very honest in his creations,” said Aruna Gunaratna, a film critic and editor of Sarasaviya, Sri Lanka’s oldest newspaper on film and the arts.

Sunil Perera was born in 1952 and was one of 10 children. His father, an ex-soldier, started a band that Sunil and his brothers later took over. Most of their songs became hits.

The public embraced his songs for exposing the political establishment and making politicians a laughing stock. People also liked his comments on many subjects.

“Sunil made fearless comments. Most artists avoid expressing political opinions or comments on other social issues. But Sunil was different, he stood for what he thought was right and he didn’t care whether he would have to suffer personal losses.” said Kotawila Withanage Janaranjana, the editor of Anidda, an independent newspaper.

“Whereever he went, people surrounded him because of his popularity. People listened to his speeches and embraced his views. His death is a great loss to us,” Janaranjana said.

Tributes came even from politicians.

“Irrespective of the political differences, I believe Sunil Perera will be remembered forever in the hearts of the people of Sri Lanka, for his performance as a singer and a veteran in the field of music,” Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

ACLU sues over Nevada county’s hand-counting ballot plan

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The ACLU’s Nevada chapter filed a lawsuit Tuesday against a rural Nevada county and its interim clerk to stop the implementation of the county’s new hand-counting process, which was spurred by false claims of election fraud. The process entails hand-counting all paper ballots alongside a machine tabulator. The lawsuit cites three […]
21 hours ago
Lebanese security officers stand at the entrance of a Byblos Bank branch that was broken into by de...
Associated Press

Depositors storm 4 Lebanese banks, demanding their own money

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese depositors, including a retired police officer, stormed at least four banks in the cash-strapped country Tuesday after banks ended a weeklong closure and partially reopened. As the tiny Mediterranean nation’s crippling economic crisis continues to worsen, a growing number of Lebanese depositors have opted to break into banks and forcefully withdraw […]
21 hours ago
Aaron Forsberg, minister for economic affairs from the U.S. Embassy, speaks at a conference on bioe...
Associated Press

US vows to supply green-fuel-laggard Japan with bioethanol

TOKYO (AP) — U.S. officials are touting bioethanol in Japan, which trails other nations on using the green fuel made from corn and other crops. The U.S. is a top grower of corn, and an embassy official said the U.S. would be “a reliable supplier” of bioethanol. “American ethanol is a powerful tool for Japan […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Seattle woman gets probation for massive Capital One hack

SEATTLE (AP) — A former Seattle tech worker convicted of several charges related to a massive hack of Capital One bank and other companies in 2019 was sentenced Tuesday to time served and five years of probation. U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said sentencing former Amazon software engineer Paige Thompson to time in prison […]
21 hours ago
Former President Donald Trump listens to applause from the crowd as he steps up to the podium at a ...
Associated Press

Trump asks Supreme Court to intervene in Mar-a-Lago dispute

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for former President Donald Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to step into the legal fight over the classified documents seized during an FBI search of his Florida estate, escalating a dispute over the powers of an independent arbiter appointed to inspect the records. The Trump team asked the […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Kari Lake, Republican candidate for Arizona governor, speaks at the Conservative Political A...
Associated Press

Kari Lake walks back ‘rare and legal’ abortion comment

PHOENIX (AP) — A spokesman for Kari Lake said Tuesday the Republican candidate for Arizona governor didn’t mean to suggest abortion should be legal, saying she’s not calling for changes to abortion laws weeks after a judge ruled that prosecutors can enforce a near-total ban on terminating pregnancies. In her most expansive comments on abortion […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Sunil Perera, outspoken Sri Lankan singer, dies at age 68