Singer, songwriter, and composer Nihal Nelson passed away at the age of 76 yesterday (13), and the music industry is paying tribute to the veteran singer who has made a huge impact on the local music scene.
Nihal Nelson, who began his career in 1963, is the Sri Lankan artist with the highest number of albums recorded. He has recorded a total of 113 albums and is known for tracks like Pansala Palliya, Kiridunne Daruwantai, and Lassanata Pipunu Wana Mal. Nelson was also considered “undefeated on the concert stage” and was one of the most influential singers in the country.
He was born in Moratuwa on 9 January 1946, and his talent was recognised from an early age. Nelson was among the first Sri Lankan singers to release a cassette with the 1978 Gune Aiyage Kamare, which was released under Wijaya Ramanayake’s Tharanga label. Later, Nelson was also among the first Sri Lankan vocalists to release a CD.
He also worked as a playback singer for films, including Pem Kurullo, Sakvithi Suwaya, and Loku Hora. In 2013, he celebrated his five-decade career with a special concert, and at the time of death, had been active in the music industry for 59 years.
On 10 December, just three days before his death, Nelson performed in Watagedaramulla at a concert titled Creative Colours Night, which he shared on Facebook. The day before, Nelson paid tribute to veteran singer Nuwan Gunawardana, who passed away on 8 December, and was known for tracks like Paawee Giyawe, Kandulinma Gayu Pem Geethe, and La Sanda Eliye.
While Nihal Nelson was active on Facebook up until Sunday (11), many have taken to social media to pay tribute to the singer. This includes popular band Marians and chef-turned-singer Don Sherman.
“The singer who brought us Baila Wendesiya, which we have loved since we were kids, was down to earth and loved across the island, but is now no longer among us, leaving us with a unique and immortal voice,” singer Vikum Perera posted.
The band Yago said: “We will never again meet you on the same stage, but we will never forget the memories we have of you.”
Sri Lanka Singers’ Association President Janaka Wickramasinghe said on Facebook that Nelson’s remains lie at his residence at 17, Nihal Nelson Mawatha, Rawatawatte, Moratuwa.