Obituary: Musician Sweety Pillay

2011-11-21 00:00

THE doyen of South African musicians of Indian descent in Pietermaritzburg, Nariansamy “Sweety” Pillay, died after a brief illness at his daughter’s home in Regina Road, Northdale, last week.

Pillay was best remembered as a versatile musician always willing to share his knowledge. He excelled in playing wind, percussion and multi-stringed instruments, being particularly recognised as a harmonium, thabla (drums) and flute player.

He won several accolades as a singer and musician having played in orchestras like Mohini, Kalavani, Starlite, Bharathi and Vani Entertainers.

His keen ear and love for music earned him pride of place as tutor and leader of the Hindu Young Men’s Association adult group who made remarkable strides in the regional Tamil eisteddfods.

In latter years he rendered his musical talent to prayer groups who conducted musical services at prayer meetings and the homes of bereaved families.

Sagren Phillips, a member of the Siva Nyana Sabha group in Northdale, said of Pillay, “He will be missed by the community at large in Pietermaritzburg, especially by musicians like violinist Allan Pillay, guitarist Vasi Naidoo, singer Pullen Thangavelu, master thabla and mirdgham player Mervli Singarum and harp player Shervin Pillay. There will be a huge vacuum in this group of musicians who will find it difficult to fill.”

As a young musician he broadcast several times on SABC and even featured in two CD recordings.

Apart from his musical stints, Pillay was a keen soccer player and represented Northern Natal in the prestigious Sam China Cup tournaments as a goalkeeper after coming through the amateur ranks in playing for Stella, Royals and City View football clubs. He was a retired footwear factory worker.

As a fitting tribute to this fine musician, a memorial service is to be held tomorrow night at the A.S. Pillay Hall at 7 pm. India-trained Sangeetha Vidhwaan Karthigasen Parusuramen and his party will render the musical tribute.

Pillay is survived by his daughter, Judy, sons Vernon, Kenny, Siven and Teddy their spouses, and many grieving members in the Pietermaritzburg community.

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