'Changi's sweet voice' Suseela Krishnasamy dies at 87

Suseela Krishnasamy in 2004 at the Vasantham channel's annual Pradhana Vizha awards, where she received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Suseela Krishnasamy in 2004 at the Vasantham channel's annual Pradhana Vizha awards, where she received the Lifetime Achievement Award.PHOTO: MEDIACORP

Popular television and radio artiste Suseela Krishnasamy, who also voiced Tamil announcements at Changi Airport, died on Sunday at the age of 87.

Her cremation took place on Monday. She is survived by her four sisters, nieces and nephews. She had two brothers, who have died. Her husband, Mr Krishnasamy, died in 2007.

Suseela, a retired supervisor at the former Singapore Telecoms, had been hospitalised for about a month before dying in her sleep at about 5am on Sunday, said her sister, Mrs Kamala Thiagarajan.

Her family had created a video montage for her 80th birthday to celebrate her life and achievements. It was produced by her sister, Mrs Kamala, and her nephew, Mr Vijay Krishna.

It was mentioned in the video that Suseela started her career as a child radio presenter in Radio Malaya in 1945 at the age of 11.

The multi-talented artiste went on to act in numerous television, radio and stage dramas.

She was one of those instrumental in the inception of the Singapore Indian Artistes' Association (SIAA) in 1970 and served as its president.

Following in the footsteps of her late father Mr Valoo, whom she looked up to as an inspiration, she joined the Singapore Telecoms in 1954 before retiring in 1992.

She was actively involved in the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees. For her outstanding service at work, she received the Efficiency Award in 1967 from Singapore's first President Yusof Ishak.

In a competition organised by the Telecoms Board in the same year she joined, she won the title of Miss Golden Voice.

Suseela's other voice work included the Tamil announcements at Changi Airport, for which many dubbed her the "sweet voice of the airport".

Her passion for Indian classical music was ignited when she was nine. She was a versatile musician, talented in playing the veena, violin and harmonium.

She was one of the first Tamil TV broadcasters in 1963. Her dedication to the promotion of arts and culture won her the Kalaichemmal award in 1990 and the lifetime achievement award in 1998 from SIAA. In 2004, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Mediacorp's Vasantham channel at its Pradhana Vizha awards.

"Suseela was a multi-faceted artiste and her pronunciation of Tamil words was excellent. She was an important pillar when we formed SIAA," said fellow artiste S. Varathan, 86, a former president of SIAA and a family friend.

Former senior news broadcaster, Mr SP Panneerselvam, 72, said Suseela was one of the finest actresses of the Singapore Tamil drama fraternity.

"She had acted in many dramas made by senior producers. She is known for her 'mother' characters," he said. Suseela had acted in many of the dramas he scripted.

Veteran Tamil artiste Re Somasundaram, 73, said: "Her passing is a great loss to Singapore's drama industry. She taught me how to deliver dialogue effectively and how to act well."

Popular TV actor Vadi PVSS described her as "always generous, encouraging and supportive of younger artistes" in a tribute posted on Facebook.

"Always having a mother's touch in the way she approached younger artistes, she was a joy to work with," he wrote. "Even in her old age, she had the dream that the local Tamil drama industry should accomplish more," he said.

Local celebrity Saravanan Ayyavoo said Suseela "is truly deserving of all the accolades she has received".

Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity and accuracy, including to reflect the correct number of sisters Suseela is survived by. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2021, with the headline ''Changi's sweet voice' Suseela Krishnasamy dies at 87'. Subscribe