Vivienne de Silva Boralessa (Sinhala: විවියන් ද සිල්වා බොරලැස්ස) (24 November 1930 – 2 April 2017) was a Sri Lankan singer known particularly for her Buddhist devotional music. Her fame peaked in the 1950s, in what is known as Sri Lanka’s ‘gramophone era’.
The release of Ralle Nagenne is regarded to have been the turning point in Boralessa’s career, the association with an artist like Shantha contributing considerably. Inspired by artists such as Wasantha Senanayake, Vincent de Paul Peiris, Susil Premarathna, Grace Sahabandu, Priscilla Opatha, C.T. Fernando, Kanthi Wakwella and Mohideen Baig, she would go on to perform both solo songs (mostly devotional – and patriotic music) and duets with notable artists such as H.R. Jothipala, Haroon Lanthra, Dharmadasa Walpola and Sisira Senarathne, and eventually with her idol C.T.
Boralessa expressed a desire to enter the playback music industry, but could not visit India for recording due to objections by her parents. Nevertheless, the early 1950s saw Vivienne enter the peak of her popularity, under the guidance and training of musicologists and composers such as H.W. Rupasinghe (“Rupasinghe master”), Lionel Edirisinghe and Eddie master. Notable songwriters that contributed to her career during this (and later) periods include:
• Sarath Wimalaweera
• Karunaratne Abeysekera
• Dharmadasa Dias
• Premakeerthi de Alwis
• C. Weerasekara
• Dayananda Kumarasiri
• Wasanthasiri Kusumpola
• Rangajeewa Salgado
Boralessa’s work was scored by some of Sri Lanka’s most well-known composers, with B.S. Perera, Victor Perera, Premasiri Khemadasa, Sanath Nandasiri and Clarence Wijewardena among them. Boralessa was also signed on to the HMV label (then under the local oversight of Cargills (Ceylon)) by Gabrielle Gunaratne in 1950.
Some of Vivienne’s more well-known songs include:
• Dura pena thanithala (Far-seen plains)
• Nangi nangi Rupika (Sister Rupika)
• Nawathinna Tissa (Tissa, desist)
• Sambudu mangalle (Blessed (Buddhist) festival)
• Budu magula langama ewi (The Buddhist festival draws near)
• Ma Sanghabodhi swamine (My Lord Sanghabodhi)
While most of Boralessa’s work was recorded on gramophone, she released a CD-based album containing her most popular tracks, entitled Sambudu Mangalle, in 2009.
De Silva-Boralessa was the only artist to perform at the 2500th- (1955) and 2550th (2006) Buddha Jayanti as well as the 2600th (2011) Sambuddhatva Jayanthi celebrations held in Sri Lanka; she performed “Me pin bime” (“On this hallowed ground”), a song written for the occasion, in a duet alongside her son, Kapila at the latter occasion. She was also awarded the Kalabooshana award by the Sri Lankan Government for her services to the country’s music industry.