Muso sought no glory for himself
“A SUPER talented music guru, with vast musical knowledge, yet so humble.”
That is the composite message I gleaned from the many messages of tribute that poured in for South African musician Beama Naidoo, who died last week after a short illness.
We have all heard him at some time. We were enthralled by his musical output.
However, did we know how this legend was created?
Naidoo was a naturally reticent, unassuming individual, and so not much has been written about him.
It is thanks to the other music maestro Ashley Kisten and an article by Lurika Chetty, based on an interview with Naidoo, that I was able to put together a short biography of the music legend.
He was born on November 14, 1959, the 11th child of Apannah and Gegamma Naidoo of New Cottage Estate in Mount Edgecombe.
Growing up in a big family created indelible memories, but one such possibly paved the way to his later successful musical career.
Naidoo put water into several cups, each with differing levels, and tapped them with a teaspoon.
It produced different sounds, and by accident, he had created his own version of a xylophone.
The talent that was to emerge later, possibly originated with that simple experiment.
By the age of eight, young Naidoo was playing the harmonium and had taught himself to play the tabla.
He perfected his harmonium skills under the tutelage of Ganas Govender of Kalaivani Orchestra.
At the age of 12, together with friends Michael Lachmiah and Lenny Dorasamy, he formed a mini band called The Blue Lollipops.
As he grew he became a member of several other bands.
These bands gave young talents the chance to showcase their skills and the opportunity to play alongside more experienced musicians.
In 1977, Naidoo joined Luxmi Entertainers, and remained with them until 1985 when he then joined Luxmi Stars.
Naidoo launched 10 compilation albums.
In 1994, he won the LotusFM song-writing contest with his Telugu version of the song, Chinna Raja. He sustained this win in 1995 with the song, Chandrooda.
One of the highlights of his life as an adult was sharing the stage with childhood heroes Jack and Valla Kiston.
Over the years, Naidoo performed with many local and overseas stars.
Among the latter were TM Soundararajan, P Susheela and Unni Menon.
Another highlight was in 1995, when he performed at a wedding in Chennai, India, under the direction of renowned music composer Joshua Rajan.
In 2000, his ultimate musical dream was achieved, which was the opening of the Beama Naidoo School of Music.
This followed years of being a music teaching guru at the Phoenix Tamil Institute.
At his school, Naidoo gave lessons in playing the harmonium as well as developing singing talent.
He devoted the school to promoting culture and was involved in many fund-raising activities for community causes as well as holding eisteddfods.
He opened five music schools and a Telugu music institute.
Naidoo devoted the latter part of his life in nurturing and developing the talents of young ones in the community.
The tributes that met the news of his death is testament to a well beloved man.
A man who sought no glory for himself, but made the other person feel important.
One singer said that when she was with Naidoo on stage, even with her limited music knowledge, he made her feel like she was the best.
To say that Beama Naidoo will be missed is an understatement. Men of his calibre are rare. His loss will be felt, but his enduring music will be the salve to ease the sadness.