Pietermaritzburg’s self-taught musical muse

2015-09-02 06:00
PHOTO: nicole john

Len Sooklal has been entertaining for more than 50 years.

PHOTO: nicole john Len Sooklal has been entertaining for more than 50 years.

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SELF-TAUGHT musical muse, Len Sooklal (70), has been in the music industry for more than 50 years entertaining in Pietermaritzburg, Durban and Johannesburg.

Inspired by his uncle, Rabin Heera, Sooklal learnt how to play the clarinet because he was so attracted to the sound. Since then he has learnt to play the saxophone, accordion, keyboard, harmonium, thabla and drums. Sooklal cannot read music and plays purely by ear.

In 1962 he joined the Nadhaan Orchestra and served the Indian community by playing in various community services and events. The band became very popular and cemented itself in the homes of many.

After 20 years in the band, Sooklal had to leave due to work challenges. However, his love for music continued to burn inside of him and he quickly got back into the industry when he became a part of Soor Sungeeth that played mostly in the city and Durban and was contracted to various Hindu organisations where they played for different events.

His most memorable experience in his illustrious musical career was leading Nelson Mandela from the city hall to the statue of Mahatma Ghandi in Church Street in 1995 when the statue was unveiled.

“This was, and will always be, the highlight of my career. It was an honour to lead Mandela and meeting him. This isn’t something that everyone can say they’ve done.”

In 2000 he began dabbling in a different musical area - playing for weddings and leading bridal couples into the venue. Nine years later Len Sooklal’s Music Productions and his son, Naveen, joined him. This brought a whole new element to Sooklal’s music. He was now able to experiment more and record music. He also began to play Indian, Western and Spanish music.

“With God’s grace I am still well and able to play music and continue my passion of entertaining others,” he said.

Sooklal said he wants to pass on the skill of playing the clarinet and other instruments to the younger generation so they can continue the traditions in the Indian culture.

For more information contact Naveen at 072 518 2820 or Len at 073 388 5365 or email nsooklal@rocketmail.com

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