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S African Indian singer loves Hindi, Tamil songs

Paddy Padayachee has firmly entrenched himself as a singer of note in Tamil gospel music ? locally as well as internationally.

india Updated: May 12, 2006 11:15 IST

South African Indian Paddy Padayachee has firmly entrenched himself as a singer of note, especially in English and Tamil gospel music, both locally and internationally.

After first performing at the age of 11 in the city of Pietermaritzburg, Padayachee has for the past 21 years notched up a number of firsts to his credit.

"My mother was my inspiration for my Tamil singing, but I also have a passion for old Hindi songs," Padayachee told the agency.

"With pop music, you can't touch people's lives and bring them closer to God. I started gospel singing in 1984, since when I have done eight albums in America, including some with the world's leading Black gospel singers," he said.

In 1987, Padayachee became the first Indian artist to perform to an audience of 35,000 people at the Voortrekkerhoogte Stadium in Pretoria, defying threats from many local Afrikaners who opposed what they saw as an infringement on their heartland by Black artists.

"I was also the first local singer to feature in a Tamil song on the South African television programme Gospel Gold and featured regularly on various gospel music programmes on TV," he said.

But while he has achieved more fame for his gospel music, Padayachee said his first love remained Indian music. However, he admitted to understanding Hindi better than Tamil, even though he speaks both languages enough to get by.

"I've done a lot of songs where I take very popular Hindi golden oldie tunes and put Tamil lyrics to them. To me, Hindi is the most romantic language in the world, so when you cross Hindi tunes with Tamil lyrics you get the best of both worlds.

"At the moment I'm looking for a female singer that I can record duets with, to add to the 27 albums I have done so far," Padayachee said.

He is also involved in other Christian activities and teaches once a month in his church.

"One of the things I would still like to do is to tutor young musicians, and perhaps host a gospel music radio show."