Deshamanya Matharage Rita Genevieve Fernando better known by her stage name Latha Walpola (Sinhala: ලතා වල්පොල), is a prominent Sri Lankan vocal artist. It was as a member of a church choir that Walpola began a career that led to her becoming one of Sri Lanka’s premier singers of her day. Today her fans often refer to her as “The Nightingale of Sri Lanka”
Latha Walpola just was 12 years old when she was introduced to the country by Radio Ceylon as a member of Radio Ceylon’s Choir in 1946. C.A. Fonseka, a family friend and radio, dramatist, brought her to Radio Ceylon to perform in his Sarala Gee programme with his son C.D. Fonseka.
In 1947 Walpola sang her first solo song, “Kandulu Denethe Vehena”, with lyrics by Sarath Wimalaweera and music composed by Vincent de Alwis, the resident violinist at Radio Ceylon. She then began to sing under the direction of Mohammed Gauss, P.L.A.Somapala and B.S.Perera, with these famous musicians incorporating her high-pitched tone into their musical creations. By 1950 she was a well known female singer in the country, covering the songs “Sukomala Banda Lelawa”, “Dunhinda Helena” and “Diyaluma Helena”, originally sung by Chitra Somapala. Walpola has recorded for both the Columbia and HMV record labels. The song “Malbara Himidiriye Pipune Esala Araliya Mala”, sung with C.T. Fernando, is one of her most popular songs.