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Marie Pietersz

Andrew de Silva at his Prince Extravaganza tribute show –
Video, Thanks to Marie Pietersz






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Combined Colleges of Sri Lanka choir at their 20th year performance at the Reformed Church Dandenong – performing Christmas Carols 2017.
Video, Thanks to Marie Pietersz

 






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My Fair Lady turns 95 – By Marie Pietersz: Melbourne

 

My Fair Lady turns 95: by Marie Pietersz

 Gwen Pietersz (nee Bertus), the matriach of the Pietersz family, celebrated her 95th milestone birthday recently, choosing a private party in Ringwood to share with her heritage of four generations of Pieterszs. Her cake was a tribute to her long life and relationship with her family, the message reading, Queen Gwen, 95 Years Loved.

 Gwendoline Amelia Bertus  was born in Colombo (Ceylon) on 27 October 1922 to parents Llewellyn (Lula) Bertus and Emma James. Gwen is the oldest sibling of a family of eight children, Pam Koch (dec), Cynthia Pereira (dec), Herbert Bertus (dec), Dickie Bertus (dec), Ron Bertus (dec), Dulcie Namasiyavan (dec) and Bernard Bertus.

 Growing up in Sri Lanka, Gwen attended St Matthew’s College, Baseline Road, Borella, and on completing her education worked as a stenographer in legal firms until this quiet, demure lady met and fell in love with Lloyd Pietersz, a dashing, swashbuckling young policeman, much to the surprise of her family. 

 They say opposites attract and after a whirlwind courtship they were married in 30 October 1943 at Holy Cross Church, Slave Island. Husband, Inspector Lloyd Pietersz, was stationed at the Kalutara Police Training School and the family lived in Kalutara where Gwen brought up her family of five boys and one girl, Randy, Cheryl, Tregartha, Desmond, Geoffrey and Glenn. 

In later years when Lloyd secured the prestigious job of Bodyguard to the former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the family moved to Colombo and lived in Police accommodation opposite Parliament House (where the Intercontinental Hotel now stands).

 Gwen and Lloyd migrated to Melbourne in 1974 and lived for many years in Bayswater in a staff bungalow when Lloyd found employment in security at Fibremakers Bayswater, and then moved to Ringwood when they purchased their home. 

While she didn’t work in the corporate world in Melbourne, Gwen had the reputation of being a gracious host, busy with house duties, keeping a nice home for her husband, unmarried sons and mother. She always had food on hand when family or friends dropped by and nobody left hungry without a taste of her delicious Sri Lankan home cooked meals or hidden treats for grandchildren. She would wake up early each morning before the household stirred to cook meals for “whoever may visit”, she used to say, and by the end of the day, that food had disappeared because she would have fed so many family members or friends who visited. 

 A pint-sized lady, she ruled her male dominated household with a firm but fair hand – a much-loved mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and later great–grandmother. In the tradition of old, one could always find her dressed immaculately – nothing casual with how she presented herself to the world, whether in the home or in public. Every occasion was an excuse to buy a new outfit, do her hair and paint her nails, and everybody knew this and indulged her, the end result being that there was always a beautiful ‘my fair lady’ at the parties she attended.

Even as she grew older and her family expanded, she maintained her position as matriarch and the pivotal point of contact for her family – one could always be sure to find a visitor at the meeting place, her home. Her family Christmases was, and still are, big and extra special events when furniture has to be moved  to make room for the new generations who do not want (or dare) to miss their mum/nana/gran-gran’s Christmas Eve family celebrations. 

 When the modern way appears to be to give combined presents or reduce present-giving at Christmastime, even at her ripe old age, she makes it a point to shop herself (in later years with the help of her daughter) for a present for each and every child, grandchild and great-grandchild, and even close friends who come to her home on 24th December. She loves Christmas and still keeps the traditions of old, giving everybody and her Australian-born family,  an insight into how Christmas was celebrated in Sri Lanka, or Ceylon, as she wants to remember it by.

 When she could no longer live in the family home on her own, Gwen moved to live with her daughter in Ringwood and now resides with a son in Wantirna, still sharp of mind, still able to laugh heartily at a jokes her sons make of her funny traditions, and still busy watching old western movies, completing crosswords (and winning) in magazines like That’s Life, buying Tattslotto without fail each week (and winning) and always playing the machines at the pokies (and winning). 

 The family’s long-standing mirthful recollections which bring a hearty laugh from Gwen is when they remind her of her ability to forget her aches and pains and difficulty moving fast the minute she gets an offer from a son or friend to go to the pokies. Her speed automically picks up and she is virtually jumping into the car, with her departing laughing comment ” have car, will travel” and off to the pokies goes this winner to come back with a heavier handbag than the one she set off with.

 Gwen’s one desire it to reach the grand old age of one hundred, just so she can get a letter from the Queen (she is such a die-hard Royalist) and everyone wishes her this heart’s desire. The family laugh that the congratulatory letter might be from King Charles, to which Gwen smiles knowingly. We know she’s thinking “who cares” as long as it is from Royalty. 

 Family, friends and in-laws wish Gwen a happy and healthy life and her dream to be one hundred.  God bless this much loved lady!

 

 

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Andrew de Silva – home-grown icon: a review – By Marie Pietersz : Melbourne
Marie Pietersz

If you missed seeing Prince live on stage, the next best thing is to see Andrew de Silva 

(Fan at the Flying Saucer Club for Prince Tribute show)

  crowds are loving Andrew

Andrew de Silva and father Conrad
Andrew and Conrad perform together

November has been month in which Melbourne has serenaded young stars with Sri Lankan heritage, not least of all Australia’s very own home-grown icon, Andrew de Silva, doing a season of Prince tribute shows in Victoria following an interstate season.

 Andrew’s vocal versatility with his ability for voice layering and falsetto, has seen him picked to play lead roles in tribute shows, most recently Prince and Marvin Gaye with great touring Australian musicians. He is a much sought after artiste recently replacing an original member as lead singer in the Australian band Boom Crash Opera.

 Andrew has many musical strings to his bow with his ability to mix, arrange, compose, write, play guitar and sing in so many genres and able to transcend the music years from Motown to pop rock. He is the whole package, this uniqueness keeping him in demand with producers of stage shows and music gigs, next in line as guest artist doing soundtracks from the The Big Chill at the Arts Centre on 1 December.

 Andrew was born into a musical family, the son of Conrad and Carina (nee Brohier) de Silva. Father Conrad is a well-known singer in Sri Lanka and in Melbourne. It is therefore no surprise that Andrew was influenced to start his musical career at the young age of eight. He burst into the musical scene making his debut in professional music as front man and main song writer for the R&B band CDB, winning an Aria with the band for the highest selling single, Let’s Groove, and Platinum and Gold sales for the single and album.

 Andrew has overcome many set-backs, including health issues, on his way to living his musical dream of recording and touring today, but his spirituality and determination have helped him overcome them and his journey, he says, has made him the person he is today. 

 Wife Elle and daughters Yazmin and Jada were so proud of their father when he won the Australia’s Got Talent contest in 2012 performing his own composition Now that I Believe which is all about keeping the faith. A second chance at stardom, he has since produced albums and singles, won many musical awards and backed huge artists like Mariah Carey on tour. 

 To see him on stage at tribute shows to celebrate the lives of international musical icons, Andrew is able to transcend his packed audiences to the stage performances of these greats gone too soon with his soulful deliveries, mannerisms and costumes. A fan of Prince, his rendition of Purple Rain at a recent Prince tribute show, Purple Revolution, was stirring, with the crowds getting into the moment and giving it up for the moving experience.

 As a public figure, Andrew is constantly busy and in demand by big names in the Australian music industry for his abilities as an all-round musician, but in private he is a family man and is never too busy to perform within the Sri Lankan community of his heritage. Recently, during the launch of A Heritage of Song, Book 2, depicting the musical journeys of musicians with Sri Lankan roots, Andrew accepted an invitation to perform with his father and brought the house down with their rendition of the soul ballad When Something is Wrong with my Baby (Isaac Hayes/David Porter) bridging the gap of two generations of professional family singers.

 Public opinion is that Andrew deserves huge success in his musical career and, having penetrated the Australian stage as a song writer, live performer and session musician, the world stage beckons Andrew for a third opportunity of stardom. It is a chance for us to share one of our home-grown icons with the world, for which he is more than ready, “God willing”, he believes. 

 If you missed Andrew’s tribute show, there will always be others coming up to watch out for. Go get your fix – they are not to be missed!

 (Pics: AndrewdeSilvaOfficial)

 

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Danielle de Niese, international soprano – a personal reflection 

“Danielle’s wonderful voice was a gift from God,” : Johnny Young (The Observer)

– By Marie Pietersz: Melbourne

Marie Pietersz

Melbourne has been agog with excitement at the return of Melbourne-born, internationally recognised Danielle de Niese (Danni to friends) for her Australian debut to star in the lead role of The Merry Widow.  Huge street posters, some gracing Federation Square, Glen Waverley (near her  former Melbourne home) and Keysborough, and banners lining St Kilda Road near the Arts Centre, Melbourne, are testimony to the welcome home Opera Australia  had for this diva who left Melbourne as a little girl and returned home as an adult and international star, described by some as the opera world’s answer to Beyonce.

Poster advertising The Merry Widow

Danielle didn’t disappoint and delivered the results Opera Australia and her Australian fans wanted and expected. She slipped into her part with a talented Australian cast with ease and received encore after encore for her own inflection to the lead role. Her bubbly and effervescent personality connected well with the character’s, making her morph into The Merry Widow a smooth transition. A witty show of dance and song, full of extravagant art deco mise en scene and costumes, The Merry Widow transports the audience to the Parisian scene and the famous Maxim’s of Paris, regarded as one of the most famous restaurants in the world, to a period of elegant couture and clandestine amours.

Scene from The Merry Widow

Danielle grew up in Melbourne and our families spent a lot of time together. Over these early years, I watched this little girl with the big voice and big ambitions grow up and supported her parents’ aspirations and big dreams for their daughter as they recognised there was something special about the talent she possessed. The catalyst for change came when Danielle, at the age of nine, won the Young Talent Time Talent Discovery competition in 1988 singing a Whitney Houston medley. 

 In 1990, realising the time had come when raw ambitions needed redirection, Danielle’s parents decided to leave Melbourne for California with Danielle and brother, Andrew,  to seek the voice training and musical recognition they believed their young daughter deserved, and their decision paid off.  Before long, there was no stopping Danielle’s rising star. Their decision to dare to dream in the City of Angels struck gold. 

 The family lived in Hollywood for many years, and although called the ‘boulevard of broken dreams’ by some, Danielle found her feet on the ladder of fame, negotiating each step carefully onward and upward on the way to success. One of her very early achievements was winning an Emmy for TV Presenting at the young age of sixteen before she went on to perform in many starring roles.

 In 2005 Danni was chosen to sing Cleopatra in a production in Glyndebourne in Sussex, England, where she met the owner and heir to the Glyndebourne Opera, Gus Christie. In 2009 Danielle married her Englishman and now lives in London, mistress of the famous Glyndebourne Manor House, venue of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, with husband Gus and their son, Bacchus (Bax), 2.

 Danielle is the daughter of Christoper and Beverly (nee Anderson) de Niese, known in Sri Lankan and Melbourne communities, who now reside in New York.   Danielle hails from musical stock on both sides of the family.

 Mother Beverly travelled from New York to support Danielle on her special Melbourne debut tour in November. On this occasion father Chris and husband Gus were unable to attend, but son Bax was there to accompany his famous mother. 

 Encore Encore Encore

“Family means everything to me, said Danielle, when asked about her close family ties. Danielle found time after performances to mingle with her Australian cousins, relatives and friends who thronged to see her.  Witnessing her ability to switch off from public figure to private person when interacting with family and fans, public opinion was clear that here was a girl with her feet planted firmly on the ground, so refreshingly unspoiled and lovable. 

 I asked Danielle what it was that touched her the most about her visit to Melbourne and she said, “It’s the welcome home I received and the realisation that I had come a full circle – I started singing at six, left Melbourne, was nurtured along the way and now I have returned home to the open arms of the country that gave me so much. “

 Johnny Young and staff of the Bartuccio Dance School were reportedly among Danielle’s former Australian mentors and teachers who came to watch their former pupil, now as the star of the show. And so did we, up close and personal, not wanting to miss seeing the little girl we used to know who has changed the way the world sees opera singers – sultry, sexy and physically toned – perform.

If you missed the Melbourne season dates 15 to 25 November, Danielle performs at the Opera House, Sydney, from 31 December 2017 to 3 February 2018. For details and how to book, go to opera.org.au.

Welcome home Danielle, and do return again, soon! The reviews have been great!

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Another first for Camberwell’s coffee roaster and cafe ‘1961 Street’

By Marie Pietersz

CoffeeHead, popular coffee roaster and cafe, has added another dimension to the already multicultural dining feast available for eating out in Camberwell, Victoria’s beautiful inner-east suburb – Street Food cuisine from around the world – now available here in the City of Boroondara, and all under the one roof.

CoffeeHead has opened for breakfast and lunch for the past six years. Now a new liquor licensee, it is offering Camberwell and surrounding suburbs something different in the evenings. With a clientele of office workers looking for some ‘time out’ on a lazy Friday evening and a place to whet their whistle and appetite and still have change in their pockets, owners Shiroma and Ash Nathan are offering ‘Around the World in Street Food’ themed dining in addition to their already popular Friday night Happy Hour.

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The Race that Stops the Nation – will you be there?

Story and pictures by Marie Pietersz

Marie Pietersz

 

           

The Melbourne Cup – The Race!

The Melbourne Cup – The Race!

Melbourne Cup Grand Stand

Melbourne Cup jockeys

Melbourne Cup mounting yard

Melbourne Cup the big screen

The AFL and NRL finals have been played and won and our distracted sporting minds now turn to the next activity on the social calendar, the Spring Racing Carnival. We drag our attention away from the fierce barracking for our favourite teams and players to following the best horses vying for a place in the unmissable event, the world famous Melbourne Cup, run on the second Tuesday of November each year.

Punter or not, you will be affected by the excitement of it all and no doubt have a a bet on the day, based on form, a tip, a name, a number, a jockey, a trainer, whatever reason you have for wanting to pick a horse to win. Then, for a few minutes in the afternoon of 7th November 2017, as the world looks on, some 100,000 people will watch live the running of 24 or so of the best Australian and international stayers in a race run over 3,200 metres for the biggest prize money in Australian sport, the A$6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup, the winner claiming a 18ct solid gold trophy valued at A$175,000.

Most of the rest of us who don’t make it to the track will find a way of celebrating this holiday our own way, attending back yard parties or club luncheons to have a flutter on a sweep and enter the race day dress competitions. But when the 7th race is run, for three-and-a-half minutes, the country will grind to a halt. Some may dare not to watch it, but they will dare not turn away. As long as there is an audio or visual device, be it a smart phone, tablet, computer, radio, or, television, I dare say everybody will stop whatever they are doing, wherever they are, to watch this iconic race and history in the making.

For those of you who have never been to Flemington, take your house parties to the races this year and join in the explosion of colour, action, excitement and celebration which is all part of the Melbourne Cup – smell the roses, walk (or sit) on the hallowed turf, watch the bands, spot the celebrities, be amused at the outrageous dressing or be wowed by the fashions on the field. There is nothing like hearing the thunder of the hooves as the stayers race past the winning post, and then the erupting of the cheer as it goes up and can be heard for miles around. The unique sights and sounds will stay with you for ever.

Get rid of your race anxieties – don’t blame the transport, the costs, the time or the clothes for not going there. What once upon a time may have been problems preventing you from being track side, now isn’t – they are just myths which can be dispelled.

On race day, most all roads lead to Flemington and public transport services provide seamless travel. Train commuters will be able to get off at the track, or you can travel by car, limousine, charter, taxi, bus, helicopter, boat or cruise ship and arrive at the race course. The entrance cost is more reasonable than you expect and the rest of the spend is your choice, whether you bet a little or bet a lot or bet nothing at all. You don’t need to get frocked up either – outrageous is ‘in’ and your choice of dress is all part of fashions on the field. Food and drink are in plentiful. International chefs will turn out their delicacies if you are lucky enough to be in one of the corporate tents or birdcages, but, hey, there is plenty of hunger and thirst quenchers to be bought around the track if you feel like leaving your picnic baskets at home.

A day on the track at this iconic event is a unique chance to watch history in the making. There is something about being part of the action as it unfolds and join the champagne drinking, hors d’ueuvre nibbling, head turning, fist thumping, nail biting, seat gripping, cheer raising crowd and making new memories with family and friends . Some people have it on their bucket list to do, and you have it right here in Melbourne. Get to Flemington, it’s easy and it’s a ‘must do sometime’ thing, so just do it. Life – be active!

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Sri Lanka and India take out main titles in first-ever Miss South Asia Australia Pageant

Marie Pietersz

Sri Lanka and India take out main titles in first-ever Miss South Asia Australia Pageant
24 September 2017
Marie Pietersz
Reporter

A dazzling spectacle of couture and beauty vied for prominence at the first ever crowning of Miss, Mr, Ms and Mrs South Asia Australia at the Box Hill Town Hall, in Victoria. The National outfits worn by contestants from the countries of Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal represented a colourful fusion of traditions. The theme for the Sri Lankan designs was red and gold, by designer house, Savish.

Miss Rita Kukreja representing India took out the prestigious title of Miss South Asia Australia 2017 from other outstanding contestants at this inaugural ceremony. Mr South Asia Australia 2017 was won by Mr Vaibhav Sharma, representing India. The Sri Lankan winners took out the other two main titles – Mrs Gihani Gunaratne Coenraed crowned Mrs South Asia Australia 2017 and Ms Archana Kandasamy crowned Ms South Asia Australia 2017.

Through pageants such as this, Managing Director Dilkie Perera has kept pushing to extend the platform she provides for young adults to showcase their South Asian heritage in a multicultural Australia and have a voice for community issues. This year the pageant supported raising awareness of domestic violence.

“First the Miss Sri Lanka Australia Pageant, which has been running consecutively for four years, and now the Miss South Asia Australia Pageant brings this platform for young ambassadors to fruition,” said Dilkie.
Proceedings commenced with the traditional lighting of the oil lamp by dignitaries and community leaders from all participating countries. Many local community leaders, supporters of the pageant, were also present and included the wife of the Consul-General for Sri Lanka in Melbourne, Mrs Nirosha Prasanna, Vice-President of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, Marion Law, and Liz Beattie, former Member of Parliament.
The Bangladeshi Community leader, Mustafa Yousef’s advice to contestants was that the biggest and longest journeys start with a single step and he therefore wished contestants starting for the first time good luck for a tremendous future.
Mr Bandu Dissanayake, Chairman of SAPAC, endorsed the event as one in which youth could showcase their talent and get involved in community events while enhancing their image and confidence and integrating into the Australian mainstream society.
“It is a very impressive endeavour and I would like to see it go from strength to strength,” Mr Dissanayake said.
Designers didn’t disappoint with their attention to detail in dressing participants in elaborate traditional, contemporary formal and casual wear for the three judging categories. Participants took to the runway to introduce designer showstoppers by Sav Perera-Jainudeen (Savish Bridal Collection) for Sri Lanka, Sonalika Pradhan (Vitamin by Sonalika) for India, Usha Karki (A to Z boutique) for Nepal and Nowrin Jalil for Bangladesh.

The prestigious panel of international and interstate Judges for the event comprised:
Bollywood actor – Vishwajeet Pradhan (Head Judge)
Director – Ms/Mrs Globe Australia Pageant in Victoria, Kylie Tee
Director – Miss/Mr/Mrs India Australia Pageant in NSW, Reena Koak
Director – Miss/Mr Nepal Oceania Pageant in NSW, Sunita Limbu
Director – Miss/Mr/Mrs/Teen Mr/Teen Miss Sri Lanka Australia Pageant in Victoria, Sav Perera-Jainudeen
International Runway Model, Emily Thomas.
The young contestants were not only a feast for the eyes, but a feast for the ears, as they wowed guests not only with their professional achievements but declarations of their passion for creativity and involvement in community causes.
In the Question and Answer judging category, contestants spoke about their strong views on domestic violence, why it is most prevalent in South Asian countries, how education can help with raising awareness and ways of helping victims of this previously private, but now public, social problem.
Dr Majula O’Connor, activist and Executive Director of the Australasian Centre for Human Rights and Health, provided an overview of domestic violence statistics and said how impressed she was with responses given by the contestants to the questions they were asked on the subject.
Regular singer at the pageant, Malith Perera (Mr Sri Lanka Australia 2014), entertained with a rendition of his own composition title, Venus, and Purple Rain (a Prince tribute).
A fitting finale was the crowning ceremony of the 2017 and first ever winners of each category and South Asian country represented:
Miss South Asia Australia 2017
Winner – Ritu Kukreja (India)
1st runner up – Susan Ahmadi (Afghanistan)
2nd runner up – Nishani Seniveratne (Sri Lanka)

Mr South Asia Australia 2017
Winner – Vaibhav Sharma (India)
1st runner up – Dilshan Nanayakkara (Sri Lanka)
2nd runner up – Sam Vaid (India)

Ms South Asia Australia 2017
Winner -Archana Kandasamy (Sri Lanka)
1st runner up – Hasnat Mohua (Bangaladesh)

Mrs South Asia Australia 2017
Winner – Gihani Gunaratne Coenraad (Sri Lanka)
1st Runner Up – Manisha Isaacs (India)
2nd Runner Up – Sidra Jutt (Pakistan)

Country Winners 2017
Sri Lanka
Miss – Jenanie Jeyanesha
Mr – Malan Mudalige
Mrs – Zeenath Zareen

India
Miss – Kaur Dhaliwal
Miss 1st runner up – Chetana Subramanium
Mrs – Moira Furtado
Mrs 1st runner up – Pawandeep Kaur
Mrs 2nd runner up – Sangita Raichaat

Afghanistan
Miss – Susan Ahmadi

Bangladesh
Mrs – Naomi D-Rozairo

Pakistan
Mrs – Sidra Jutt

Nepal
Mr – Manish Adhikari
Mrs – Oshin
The culmination of this 2017 pageant and its support of domestic violence awareness means that there are many new and young ambassadors who, through this platform, will work to educate the community about this social issue and help to break down the cultures and traditions that may be contributing factors to its prevalence.
Sri Lankan winners in the pageant have already began their duties with an official meeting with the Consul-General for Sri Lanka in Victoria / Tasmania / South Australia, Mr W G S Prasanna and Mrs Nirosha Prasanna.
Pageant credits:
Managing Director: Dilkie Perera
Executive: Sav Perera-Jainudeen
Operations producer: Vishni Perera-Jainudeen
Sponsor: Savish Corporation / Bridal Collection – visit www.facebook.com/savishaus www.instagram.com/savishaus

 

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CALLING ALL VICTORIAN SENIORS: BE ACTIVE IN OCTOBER

Story and photography by Marie Pietersz (Melbourne)

 


Audience-main-stage-Celebration-Day

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It’s Springtime again, when grand old Dame Melbourne sheds her

It’s Springtime again, when grand old Dame Melbourne sheds her winter woollies and gets ready to celebrate the warmer weather. And, boy, it’s been a cold Melbourne winter this year. Brrr!

Melbourne, the event capital of Australia in Spring is home to big ticket items such as the AFL Grand Final, Royal Melbourne Show, Fashion Week, Spring Racing Carnival, Melbourne Fringe Festivals, and the Melbourne Cup. There is something for everybody.

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LORETTA JETS IN!

Story and photography by Marie Pietersz (Melbourne)

Loretta Koch, former singing sensation of one of Sri Lanka’s most popular bands of the 1960s, jetted into Melbourne this month to perform at the much-talked about event, ‘Alston Koch’s 50 Years in Showbiz’, at The Grand Receptions, on 9 September.

Loretta, the Jetliner’s answer to ABBA’s Agnetha Faltskog, came out of retirement after 45 years for her “first and last public performing foray”, according to her. After years of declining invitations to perform publicly at reunion concerts both in Sri Lanka and Australia, she teamed up with cousin Alston Koch and international entertainers to show her fans that she still has what it takes. “Alston twisted my arm,” she said. “He convinced me to perform with him and get a crack at reliving the nostalgia and getting that adrenalin pumping again like we used to when we performed together on stage. I had a long, hard think about it, and found myself saying yes. I had to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming. I couldn’t believe I had just accepted his offer.”

Loretta didn’t disappoint and gave guests a glimpse into her singing heyday in Sri Lanka, performing her solo hits, Those were the Days and Nobody’s Child, among others dedicated to her family. She also showed off some of her old ‘moves’ that fans used to love, accessorizing her performance and getting rousing cheers from guests. Loretta’s first solo track was Summer Wine recorded in 1968, along with another favourite Rose Garden. She shared the stage on 9 September with other Australian international singers Frank Ifield, John St Peeters and Donny Sutherland invited to perform at Alston’s celebratory event.

Loretta hails from a musical family, her father Fred Koch was a comedian and entertainer extraordinaire, mother Pam played the piano, younger brother Roger sang with the group, Justinians, and together with sister Pauline, Loretta took part in the Maliban Talent Quest, the talent show of the day in the 1960s. Her home was constantly filled with music and dancing, so it was no mistake that she was inspired and destined for the stage and singing. Her musical story continued and her star continued to grow brighter until she quit the Jetliners and her successful singing career in Sri Lanka for Australia.

Loretta migrated to Melbourne with her parents in 1971, married, and then emigrated to settle in the UK, where she raised her family of two children, Amanda and Steven, with former Lipton Tea Group executive husband, Ivor Davies. Now a grandmother to two grandchildren, Jack and Olivia, she chose to chase the European sun and these days resides in Marbella, in southern Spain, with partner George Fisher, enjoying the warm weather along with many other expatriates from cold and wet England, with no regrets, her singing days far away in the distant horizon.

But that was until her change of heart to perform in Australia. Her fans who flocked to see her at the Grand on Princes were in the majority regular visitors to Sunday nights at the Galle Face Hotel’s nightclub, the Coconut Grove, the rocking hotspot where Loretta performed as a singing duo with Mignonne Fernando and other well-known Sri Lankan crooners such as Alston Koch, Conrad de Silva and Sohan Peiris backed by the many talented musicians of the Jetliners band, cutting many vinyls, singles and LPs. The group also performed in Singapore and Indian nightclubs, making a name for themselves in the Asian entertainment world under the management of Jetliner’s Manager, Tony Fernando.

Her fans are hopeful that Loretta’s singing drought has broken and that they will get to see her perform again, with offers already in from Sri Lanka and England.

Loretta, poster girl in Sri Lanka (1960s)

 

 

The Jetliners in performance (1960s)

The attraction at the Coconut Grove (1960s)

 

Frank Ifield watches Loretta perform (2017)

Loretta performs in Melbourne (2017)

 

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