Mr.Viswa Mohan Ammula, Singer from Kansas City
Mr.Viswamohan Ammula is a lead singer for the past 10 years living in Kansas City. He has performed numerous programs in US and Australia. Recently he performed a live concert in Colorado Telugu Association Ugadi celebrations for more than 3 hours. DesiShades has got some time from him to chat, and know more about his talents.
DesiShades: Hello Viswa Mohan, on behalf of DesiShades, a growing portal within NA, we would like to request your valuable time to talk about yourself and your musical interests. Before going into that I would like mention that your recent program at Colorado Telugu Association Ugadi festival was wonderful. It was really a memorable program. All the audiences were so thrilled and were in the world of music for the whole three hours. We really appreciate from our heart of hearts. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Viswa Mohan: I would like to first thank the CTA, an organization that I have lot of respect for, for giving me the opportunity to come and perform for the third time. I want to thank you personally for extending the invitation and friendship. Your organization has done a phenomenal job in coordinating and hosting us. As you know, we are a group that project good music through passion and don’t really market ourselves. It is strictly through word of mouth. Friends like you who know us are the main message carriers for our troop.
I was born in Srikakulam, brought up in Hyderabad. After completing my Master’s in Andhra University, I came here to do my Master’s degree in Plastic Engineering in 1991. It has been 18yrs since I left the motherland. I am now trying to finish my MBA and at this age you have to work twice as hard. . I am a Senior Director at MeadWestvaco, a global packaging solutions giant.
Coming to music, even though I have not been formally trained in classical music, I have it in my genes. My mother Smt. Ammula Satyavathi is a famous and highly accomplished classical violinist. At age 68, she is still very active and teaching her knowledge to students around the world. She has always taught me to be humble and consider music truly as a divine gift. On the other hand, my grand father Dr. Ammula Viswanatham Bahagavatar is a famous harikatha artist, recipient of two president awards and two honorary doctorates. So, most of my music learning is through “Vinikidi gyanam”, knowledge through learning.
I truly believe that “Music is the closest language to God and universal.” Music plays an important role in ones life and generates positive energy that only doubles when you share it with someone. Music when presented with passion touches people regardless of the genre presented. I sing in 5 different languages and different genres. I prefer melody over the recent fast songs that have more noise than music.
DesiShades: You said you haven’t learned any music. How could you sing the songs with classical touch?
Viswa Mohan: As I have mentioned before, it is all through listening. My mother has made sincere efforts to get me musically trained but I had other priorities while growing up like playing with friends and being very mischievous. I was always under the impression that the music is mostly for girls, and boys had to focus on education. My sister, who is in Australia, is into traditional music. She has learnt Veena and is a great Veena player and s singer. I now realize the importance of formal classical training when attempting songs with phenomenal classical background. I have to work very hard in presenting those songs compared to melodies.
DesiShades: Did you happen to perform in your school and college days?
Viswa Mohan: Yes. We had a musical group called VICAS (Vijayabala Cultural Association) consisting of four friends, that believed in promoting good light music compositions and lyrics while we were teens. Our parents used to give us money for us to present these programs on large scale in big prestigious auditoriums like Ravindrabharathi and Tyagaraja Gaana Sabha etc. As we grew, we all pursued different carriers and moved on. I came to the US in 1991, another friend, a famous music director today Dr. Bunty became a doctor and the other two friends Alakananda and Umaradha got married and moved on.
Alka, who now resides in Detroit is a phenomenal singer and has continued her passion like me as we continue to perform together whenever opportunities arise. Our group VICAS had been blessed by many celebrities, like PV Saibaba, the one and only Padmashree Dr. SP Balasubramanyam, SP Sailaja Garu, Chittaranjan garu and many more..
DesiShades: How long have you been performing the shows and in how many places?
Viswa Mohan: We have been performing for the past 8-9 years and did close to 150 programs all across US, India and Australia.
DesiShades: Can you please tell us about your memorable program?
Viswa Mohan: Programs where audiences crave for more can all be considered as memorable. When the ambience is created in such a way that even though you are performing in a large auditorium among hundreds of people, it all of a sudden becomes a house concert, a concert where there is eye contact, an interaction with the audience and tremendous eternal energy, regardless of the songs and genre you choose to perform, the audiences accept it and want more. There are many such examples, some being at the Delaware Telugu Association, (2007-2008) that invited us twice in less than a year, TANA (2007), AID (2003-2006), CIO (2006)and the recent CTA (2009)etc.
DesiShades: You are vivid singer. You sing songs of all the artists. Who will be your best choice if you were asked to sing?
Viswa Mohan: I am a die hard fan of SPB. Regardless of the language we are presenting, I start with a SPB song. He is an encyclopedia and is the bible when it comes to playback singing. The only singer that has successfully modulated his voice to suit the artist, there is no questions about it. . I can relate myself to him as a Dronachrya and Ekalvya story – Guru and student relationship. This is obviously in the sense that we all have learned so much from him. There are three things that are the life source to a song – Raagam, the tune, saahithyam, the lyric and bhaavam – the expression that is mostly missed in a singer’s presentation or the least understood. This is what our group has focused and excelled in and SPB garu has a lot of influence on this aspect. As a singer, I don’t confine myself to only one artist; I sing songs of all artists and work very hard at voice modulation and expression. However, not much of that is required in some of the newer compositions.
DesiShades: I have been to many music programs and many shows. I saw some difference in your show. For instance, in the recent show in Colorado, you started your first song from within and among the audiences. Is this the same trend that you follow in all your programs?
Viswa Mohan: Thanks for the good observation and a great question. This was an experiment and can fail at times, if the audio equipment or the auditorium logistics don’t work out. I am glad this came out OK and got the audience quite excited. The ambience, the song selection for the entry, the coordination, all matters and I got lucky as this was quite successful. I believe I talked about a “house concert” example in another related question. This is making the audience and me comfortable and with a little interaction, it can increase the level of satisfaction for both the parties.
DesiShades: Can you tell us about co-singers role and cooperating with each other for the success of the show?
Viswa Mohan: You are full of good questions. When we are going out for the programs, we are away from the family. I cannot take my family to all the places. 95% of the programs I go all alone. Coordinating with the team from different geographies in itself is a challenge and when you throw the song selection, musician’s familiarity and abilities, it become painful at times. In order for us to walk away happy and successful, we need like minded people. We should not have any negative energy. All my co singers are my extended family. We all are all away from our families for that weekend. We are all good friends. All of us are equal. Every body is given equal opportunity in presenting their talents. . It’s not a one man show. It all depends on all the team. They have a great respect towards me. They all enjoy the way I introduce them on the stage. All my co singers are my friends. We critique each other. It’s all to put continuous improvement in our DNA. It’s all mutual respect.
DesiShades: You sing in 5 different languages. Without understanding the feeling in the song, it is not possible to deliver melody. How can you manage this?
Viswa Mohan: Expression plays a major role while singing. Telugu is my mother tongue. Hindi is the one we have learnt from school age. When I have to sing in Tamil, Kannada or Malayalam, or other languages, I sit with my friends who are fluent in that language and try to understand it. I will try to grab all the expressions that were involved in that song. I should mention about my show in Florida two years ago. This was the annual Malayalee convention with more than 4500 people. This is one industry that has predominantly preferred singers with good “regional” accent, nothing else and presenting some old numbers that were very wordy was challenging and I should thank all my malayalee friends for working with me and helping me out with it. I have to also mention that all the lyrics are written in Telugu.
DesiShades: Can you define the role of your family in your musical journey?
Viswa Mohan: I am nothing with out my family. I travel a lot on my work. Every alternate month I travel internationally. All of this “pursuing passion” is only possible with my family support. My wife Manorama who in essence completes me has a lot of interest in music. She hasn’t learnt music and can’t sing and often replies to friend’s questions by saying, “If everybody sings, who will be there to listen, clap and encourage”. My lovely kids Meghana and Anirudh support me a lot too. Both are into Piano and Meghana sings and I have also learnt a lot from them. My daughter is good at calling musical chords and helps me with it. They are crazy about their dad performing on the stage and I make every effort to take them wherever I can. .
DesiShades: What do yo want to convey to the readers and audiences?
Viswa Mohan: We will try to pass on the musical culture/passion/energy to our next generations. I have always quoted the popular adage, “Desa Bhashalandu Telugu Lessa” but have sincerely promoted “Viswa bhashalandu Telugu Lessa”. I have expressed my concerns as an NRI to respective music directors in India that our industry is neglecting the respect for the regional language. We can make any singer from any part of the country sing, but we have to ensure that they are trained at the pronunciation and to respect the language, one of the critical factors in a song.
Sarve janaa sukHinObHavantu
DesiShades: Thanks Viswamohan garu for spending time with DesiShades.
Viswa Mohan:I would like to thank you for hosting me in Colorado and extending the hospitality to my entire team. I also wanted to congratulate you on doing an immense job in hosting your website, “desishades.com” which I have become a subscriber to, although I don’t live here in Colorado. The site is truly the only place to go to see everything that is happening related to South Asians in and around Denver. The news is up to date; the articles are good and informative and the format is easy to understand and get to. Thank you again and looking forward to seeing you all someday.
* Notable Violinist from a musical family BV Raghavendra Rao
* Exceptionally Talented Carnatic Mrigangist Patri Satish Kumar
* Eminent Carnatic musician and playback singer Dr. Nithyasree Mahadevan
* 2010 National Spelling Champion Anamika Veeramani
* Telugu Music Director and Singer Nihal
* Telugu Playback Singer Sudhamayi
* Ace South Indian Playback Singer Unni Menon
* Interview with Tollywood Hero Raja
* Deputy Speaker of AP Assembly Mr.Nadendla Manohar
* Founder President of North America Telugu Society Mr.Ravi Madala
* Famous Bharatanatyam Dancer Smt.Alarmel Valli
* Kuchipudi Dance Teacher Pasumarthy Venkateswara Sarma from India
* Dr.Sudhakar Reddy & Mrs.Vanita Reddy from Detroit
* Mr.Viswa Mohan Ammula, Singer from Kansas City
* Mrs.Jayanthi Savithri - Harikatha artist from Tirupathi, India
* Rama-Sethu should be preserved as a National Monument - Dr.Subramanyan Swamy
* There are some commanalities among world religions - Dr.Yashwant Pathak
* Swami Nirbhayananda from Ramakrishna Mission, Karnataka
* Bharatanatyam Guru Padmasri Adyar K. Lakshman
* Bollywood Singer Udit Narayan