Source: A Heritage of Song – Book 3
Christine’s early love of music commenced from a young age, inuenced and supported by her father Christopher Fernando, a classical trained virtuoso rst violinist in the Ceylon Symphony Orchestra in the era of Douglas Ferdinands, the much renowned conductor.
Her burgeoning singing career began as a teenager performing in school and inter-school contests where she stood out as a special talent from day one.
One of her rst performances that put her in the spotlight was her renditions of the evergreen classics “Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms”, and “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” – backed by a top class classical pianist and music arranged by her own father.
Christine’s vocal style enchanted and attracted attention and was pursued by many musicians and bands who were mesmerised by her performances. However even from those early teenage years her love of music often ran a close second to her teenage sweetheart boyfriend (the now successful industrialist Annesley Goonawardana) with whom she recently celebrated more than 50 years of marriage.
In that era, among the many local western bands, some Sri Lankan muso’s grouped themselves into folk type “unplugged bands” and many originals emerged. They were named “Calypso Bands” for want of a better name and one of these bands wanted a female vocalist with the “wow-factor” and that’s how the ever popular song for the Phillips lable, “Marlee, Ruwan Marlee” emerged. This song has the teputation of being one of the most played popular song ever, performed by many bands at dances, stage-shows, weddings, parties and dinner time entertainment for tourists. Thus the name “Christine & Marlee” became synonymous as a cultural phenomenon and earned her the name “Calypso Queen”.
Christine as a singer became a household name in Sri Lanka and has performed in many ground -breaking rst of it’s kind Rock and Country concerts which served to showcase her range and versatility as a singer and performer of rare talent who can crossover seamlessly to her ever popular and beautiful Sinhala songs also adding spice to these shows.
Christine is equally at home whether its contralto or soprano and belts out Rock, Pop, Country, Sinhala or Folk with consummate ease.
She is a pitch perfect Mezzo Soprano! She has done many recordings over the years and continues to do so. Hardly a day went by without one of her songs being aired on the radio back then as is the case now where she is often showcased on many TV shows.
Christine always prioritised family as was proven the case when she put her local music career on hold and migrated to the UK with her husband and family in the late 70’s/early 80’s. However she quickly started performing and building a name for herself in the UK with various bands. Once again due to her devotion to the family unit she moved back to her homeland Sri Lanka to support her husband’s business career as an entrepreneur/industrialist in which he began to excel backed by her unstinted support as a director herself Behind the success or failure of every man – there is a woman and in this case her husband’s business was a 100% success!
Back in Sri Lanka in the early 80’s she quickly established herself back in the music scene with Rock and Country Bands and also Sinhala bands performing in concerts and across TV and radio in Sri Lanka and eventually Australia which is her second home.
Apart from a singer with a beautiful voice, Christine is also a procient and a prolic song writer and has written and composed many songs for herself and others.
She also owned a state of the Art Recording Studio in Colombo which she generously provided for many up and coming Local talent development and gave her studio to be used completely free of charge for one of the top Reality Shows by a TV station for a year until the nals. Many stars of today saw their beginnings there.
However most noteworthy was the music studios in Melbourne which was created by her for the family music business run by her son. This business under the name MARLIN – a name coined after the names of her two Children Marlon & Marlee (Hence “Marlin”) hit big time in the 2000’s. This business encompassed a ”record company” Marlin Records and a music publishing arm “Marlin Publishing” which had some great singers and musicians in its stable whom Christine’s son Marlon Goonawardana took to the International arena. Apart from winning top ARIA (Best Male Artist) and APRA (most performed songs of the year) awards in Australia, The Marlin stable of artistes and songwriters have performed and written hits for global superstars such as Celine Dion, Adele, Amy Winehouse, Guy Sebastian and Delta Goodrem just to name a few. The Marlin Group of Music Companies have had long standing partnerships with major labels worldwide such as Universal, Sony/Columbia, BMG/J records and the Mushroom Music group and had formal partnerships with the top producers and songwriters such as Linda Perry, Mark Ronson, Cara DiGuirdio. Marlin Records’ artistes have performed all over the international stage from The Montreaux Jazz Festival, Glastonbury, Brit Awards and MTV music awards too. Achieving platinum certied sales in the UK.
This has made Christine very proud that her Sri Lankan born family has stayed involved and played a leading hand in such success stories. All the while her husband Annesley has been the rock and was instrumental in the investment and support given to the family members to pursue their various musical inspirations and ambitions. Christine is also grateful and proud of the other Sri Lankan born Legends who have supported her and the family such as the Man with the Golden voice himself Mr. Derrick Junkeer who has always featured Marlin records on his TV shows and interviews. Christine is still a highly sought after star performer and manages the demand of her music career with her charitable eorts towards enhancing the lives of suering animals such as lost dogs and Elephants held in captivity. She has a passion for fauna & ora and love for all living creatures and often goes to extremes and sacrices her time, money and energy to the well being of the less fortunate.