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The man who sang with Maradona

Language no bar Musician Charles Anthony; (above) the singer with Diego Maradona

Language no bar Musician Charles Anthony; (above) the singer with Diego Maradona   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

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Every time Charles Anthony performs, he brings to stage the cultures of 15 foreign languages

It was just another day in the life of Charles Anthony, when he was strumming his guitar and playing for over 40,000 people at a stadium in Kerala. But that particular performance in 2012 is still etched in his memory. Why? Because in the audience was football veteran Diego Maradona.

“Most people in Kerala know me as the man who sings in 15 languages. So when Maradona came, I was invited to perform. It was his 52nd birthday, so I sang the birthday song in Spanish, followed by a few classics. He was surprised with my knowledge of Spanish classics. He joined me in a duet for one of them, and that changed my life. It made me famous around the world; after that people started referring to me as the one who sang with Maradona,” says the artiste.

Charles, who was recently in the city to perform at the Waltair Club, is a solo performer who specialises in English classics especially the ones from 1940s to 1980s. “My audience doesn’t expect me to sing the new songs. I choose singers whose voices are similar to mine. I have a base voice so I mostly sing songs by Jim Reeves, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash to name a few. I cannot perform numbers by Michael Jackson as his voice is different from mine,” he says.

Charles started his musical journey in the clubs of Kochi and then became a regular performer at the Taj Malabar, which gets a lot of foreign guests. “I used to ask them about classics from their country and record them as they sang them for me. I also asked them to write down the lyrics. And then I would practice those songs and perform it at the hotel. Of course, I made a lot of mistakes with the lyrics and diction but the guests kept correcting me and I finally learnt it right,” he says.

And Maradona happened

Little did he know that his passion for new languages would some day lead him to Maradona. “The performance in Kerala wasn’t the only time I met the footballer. Last December, Sourav Ganguly brought him to Kolkata for a charity match between Ganguly’s and Maradona’s teams. When I was playing at a function related to the match, Maradona walked in; he not only remembered me but also came up to me and shook my hand,” Charles says.

However, Maradona is not the only celebrity to experience the magic of his music.

The singer has performed for Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia, the West Indies cricket team and Sachin Tendulkar. Speaking about his performance for Tendulkar, Charles says, “Sachin prefers more of Hindi classics and is into 80s music. And then he asked me for Frank Sinatra’s ‘My way’ which he said was one of his favourites and also ‘Chalte Chalte’.”

Doing it the old way

Though Internet has made it easy to learn songs from different cultures, Charles still prefers the old way. “I ask people about about music. It helps in connecting with them and understanding different cultures,” he says.

Charles, who performed in Andhra Pradesh for the first time, plans to now learn a few Telugu classics which he could perform for the audience the next time. He has a busy schedule ahead with performances in Chennai at the Madras Club, Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and Madras Gymkhana Club.

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Printable version | Jun 21, 2018 4:04:20 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/the-man-who-sang-with-maradona/article24152102.ece