Ever green veteran oldest Sri Lanka’s living vocalist Adihettige Christopher Emmanuel Paul was born on 10th April 1936 as the eldest son of SA Paul who was an ex serviceman and an employee of Registrar General’s Office from Moratumulla, Moratuwa. Christo as he is fondly called has had his education at St. Sebastian’s College Moratuwa. In his senior classes there had been famous Roy de Silva and Freddie Silva. The trio had been famous in wearing wedding attires to ‘gate crash’ wedding parties to eat and drink, then to vanish from the reception halls before getting apprehended.
His close associates then were renowned musician Patrick Denepitiya, vocalists CD Fonseka, Maurice Dahanayake who were all senior. It was his music teacher in class Francis Perera who had identified his singing talents had advised him to go for Sunil Shantha’s music classes in 1956. Christo had been thrilled as Sunil Shantha had been his favourite singer. The class was held on the first floor of Newton Studio in Maradana.In the meantime Christo had followed a course in motor mechanism at German Technical College in Katubedda which helped him to secure a job at Dias motor garage in Negombo. After the UNP government came into power in the year 1977 he had worked as the Transport Manager of Building Materials Corporation up to year 1994.
His father SA Paul had loved theatre was a member of Indo Lanka club in Maradana where he had acted for women roles in dramas as those days ladies do not come to theatre. His father’s ambition was to make Christo a singer at the then Radio Ceylon Commercial Service. After successfully passing as a ‘A’ grade singer, his first song recorded was a duet with his younger sister Bernadeth who is married to famous Ariyasena Millavithanachchi of the Radio Ceylon. The song was “Veena Vile Meda Olu Male” lyrics by Sarath Wimalaweera while the musical score was by Vernon Perera.It is learned that after which seven or eight songs were sung which had never got popular.
In year 1978 ‘Muthu Bello’ in thousands had been washed ashore around Sri Lanka.For the lyrics suggested by Basil M Fernando and music of Vernon Perera the song “Bello Muthu Bellow” was sung which became an instant hit. This was an original tune. Christo had been a lover of western songs.Basil M Fernando had written a song “Pem Loke Pura” to the tune of “Wooden Heart”to the music composition of Patrick Denepitiya. In year 1959 to an restricted ‘Italian tune’ Karunaratne Abeysekera had written lyrics for the song “Ha Mal Pipenne” to the music of PLA Somapala which too became an instant hit even to date. After which a spate of songs were recorded which were instant hits even to date. Bandara K Wijetunga had written lyrics for the popular song “Ruwan Thoran Thana’ sung to the musical score of Shelton Premaratne. For the lyrics of Bandara K Wijethunga and music of Patric Denepitiya the song “Ude Gedera Punchi Uddayak” which song is requested by many in overseas concerts. A few other songs among many are “Ela Dola Ganga”, ”Katuroda Gammane”, ”Wathura Nala”, ”Rosa Malak Dutuwama”, ”Menika Menika” etc.
During the beginning of the 1960 decade Christo had been called by many as “Gingle Paul” as his voice had been dubbed for Radio Commercials like “Glucorasa Mame”, “Gunasiri Bulto”, ”Cinderella shoes” etc..
Despite been such a popular singer Christo had failed to find a girl to marry. To seek God’s help in this regard he had gone to ‘Madhu Church’ sixteen times.Only on the seventeenth visit in year 1967 after lighting a candle and praying to God he had coincidentally met his future partner ‘fiance’ inside the ‘Madu Church a girl known to him.’ The lucky lady was beautiful Lilani Gunasekera an old girl of Holy Family Convent Bambalapiya.They had tied the nuptial knot sans any delay on January 6th 1968. They are blessed with a son Sampath and two daughters Sharmila and Harshini. Son Sampath, an executive at Insurance Corporation has inherited father’s vocal talents who could sing father’s songs, is well conversant in lyrics. It is pertinent to mention that Christo at eighty four years old is in his twilight years presently semi paralyzed after a fall with an undissolved blood clot.
It needs to be emphasized that Christo was the first singer who had started to sing on political stages for UNP stalwarts under Hon JR Jayewardena and Hon R Premadasa during 1976 -1977 era. Also Christo was the pioneer to record songs in cassettes.The other artistes followed suite afterwards.
Christo was a sought after singer for over five decades, often invited to sing in outdoor ans indoor concerts. He has toured to all overseas countries for concerts.
For his contribution to music the department Cultural Affairs had deservedly with success organized a solo concert “Christo 82” at the Bishops Auditorium where he had sung twenty five songs two years ago as his only solo concert.
Christo in his twilight years since had been hospitalized several times for ageing ailments is currently semi paralyzed now confined to bed is looked after by his wife and daughter Harshini at her residence in Ja Ela. Anyone who needs to find about him could contact Harshini on 0772412615 or wife Lilani on 0775571123.
May God Bless him for a speedy recovery.
Sunil Thenabadu in Brisbane