A familiar drumbeat slowly begins. It is similar to the davul
drum that is often associated with temple music in Sri Lanka. In
the background is the rhythmic noise of dripping water –
deliberate, drop by drop. Then a soulful voice begins to utter
The song has a distinct religious flavour to it – it is Buddhist
in particular, especially the light drumbeat that is constantly
played in the background, complementing the strong voice of the
singer. The song, at certain points, renders a strong resonance
of a gatha – especially when the guttural voice of the singer,
slows down gradually.
Rishvan Imon – Rittay to his close friends – is the latest
Maldivian singing sensation. His powerful voice is capable of
rendering music of different genres. Apart from being on the
verge of international stardom, why is he of special interest to
Rittay’s first international solo album Share My Dreams is ready
to be released, and all the melodies and musical arrangements in
the album are prepared by none other than Kalasuri Diliup
According to Gabadamudalige, all instruments in the album were
performed via MIDI, and the album was recorded, mixed and
mastered at his EMorphus Studio in Pelawatte, Battaramulla.
The English album has 13 songs and they were written by
Gabadamudalige, Uddaka Tennekoon and Coomerene Rodrigo. The
first song in the album, The Queen of My Heart is, more or less,
the steppingstone for Rittay’s international music career.
It was performed in his first international show in August 2007
at Centenary Square Bradford, UK. The song is an appreciation of
late Lady Diana, and the lyrics were penned by Gabadamudalige.
He was then part of a band called The Clove.
“When Rittay played the ballad in Bradford, it was requested
five times,” Gabadamudalige said, giving credence to the rising
success of the star.
The English album includes music from several different genres –
ballads, reggae, R&B and rock. Several reggae songs in the album
are close to the music of reggae icon Bob Marley, but also echo
the music of the more recent American band, Big Mountain. Yet,
it is Rittay’s powerful voice that makes him unique and
different than others.
His first solo Divehi (the official language of the Maldives)
album is also unique. The lyrics were by Easa Shareef and the
music was composed by Gabadamudalige. Although the language is
quite unfamiliar to the Sri Lankan ears, the melodies are very
much oriental and contain the flavour of Hindustani music genre.
The special feature in the album is the use of Maldivian drum
Boduberu, which has added a distinct essence to the songs. There
is a sense of strong familiarity of music, beneath the surface
of unfamiliar language of the lyrics.
Rittay’s father is also very famous Maldivian singer,
particularly in the 1970s and ’80s. Rittay takes his music from
his father. Until very recently he has been performing in the
island resorts of the Maldives.
Rittay was discovered by the Apollo Entertainment. In a context
where the big corporates are reluctant to finance the theatre
and artistes, this is a very good example. It was Ahmed Arif (Artay)
of Apollo Entertainment who has discovered Rittay.
Referring to Rittay’s voice, Gabadamudalige said, “He has a very
good range. Fantastic. When he first walked into my studio, he
looked like a slightly built young man. But his strong voice was
a total surprise.”
Rittay’s albums, English and Divehi, will be internationally