Kattassery Joseph Yesudas (born 10 January 1940) is an Indian musician and film playback singer. Yesudas sings Indian classical, devotional and cinematic songs. He has recorded more than 40,000 songs in a number of Indian languages, including Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu as well as Arabic, English, Latin, and Russian, during a career spanning more than five decades.
Yesudas has performed in most Indian languages except for Punjabi, Assamese, Konkani, and Kashmiri. He has also composed a number of Malayalam film songs during the 1970s and 1980s.
Yesudas won the National Award for the Best Male Playback Singer eight times, the Filmfare Awards five times, and the State Award for the Best Playback Singer forty-three times, including awards given by the state governments of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and West Bengal. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1977, the Padma Bhushan in 2002, and the Padma Vibhushan (second-highest civilian award) in 2017 by the Government of India for his contributions towards the arts. In 2011 Yesudas was honoured with the CNN-IBN outstanding achievement award having recorded over 50,000 songs in a five-decade career. In 2006, he sang 16 film songs in four South Indian languages on the same day at AVM Studio, Chennai.
K. J. Yesudas was born in Fort Kochi, in the erstwhile Kingdom of Cochin (now Kerala), in a Latin Catholic Christian family to late Augustine Joseph and late Elizabeth Joseph. His father, a well-known Malayalam classical musician and stage actor, was his first guru (teacher). Yesudas was the eldest of five children, and was followed by three younger brothers and a younger sister.
He started his academic music training at R.L.V. Music Academy, Thrippunithura. Later he studied at Swathi Thirunal College of Music, Thiruvananthapuram under the tutelage of the carnatic music maestro late Sh. K.R. Kumaraswamy Iyer and the late Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer but could not complete his studies due to financial constraints. For a brief period, he also studied music under Sri Vechur Harihara Subramania Iyer, after which he took advanced training from Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar. He completed the Ganabooshanam course at R.L.V. Music Academy, Thripunithura, Cochin and continued studies at Sree Swathithirunal Music Academy, Trivandrum under the tutelage of the carnatic music maestro late Sh. K.R.Kumaraswamy Iyer.
In 2011 Yesudas completed his 50 years as a playback singer.