Franklin Fernando is a 21-year-old singer-songwriter, rhythm guitarist, the founder and the leader of Winnipeg-based Soul Reggae band RasTamils. Franklin grew up in Sri Lanka and came to Canada in 2008 because of the war between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority. Growing up Tamil and witnessing his people's struggles, Franklin found joy in hand-drumming and singing along to old Bollywood, calypso and reggae music.
Franklin founded RasTamils in the summer of 2010 to play fun dance music with messages of solidarity with the Tamil people. The band started when he was at the 2010 Canada Day parade and he saw Martin Valach, a Rasta drummer, sitting by the side of the street. Franklin went over to jam with him. Then another drummer came and joined them, and soon they were surrounded by a drum jam and couldn't even hear themselves!
In the following months, Franklin asked seven more musicians to join the band:
J.R. Hill (Lead guitar)
Dan Moroz (saxaphone), Matthew Walden (Trumpet), Jon Amadatsu (Trombone)
Daniel Thau-Eleff (harmonica,)
Wendell Parke (keyboard)
Martin Valach (Drums/back up vocals)
Christian Dedoin (Bass guitar)
Franklin has written and arranged 12 original songs for RasTamils, with another two songs by Martin, and the band has developed a unique sound – a mix of rock and roll and root-reggae, influenced by Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Jacob Miller, Indian classical singers Nurat Fateh Ali Khan, Kailashkhr and many other artists, tying in rock, classical Indian, pop and folk influences and bass lines from his home country, Sri Lanka.
RasTamils released an 7 song EP on April 20th . EP release was pretty successful to a point the Track “Friend” was played in CBC radio.
Franklin and RasTamils have performed at numerous Winnipeg venues and festivals including The Pyramid Cabaret, Juss Jazz (opening for Trio Bembe), The Standard, Finn McCues, Mondragon, The Lo Pub, Ragpickers Theatre, Shine On Festival, Sherbrook Street Festival,Winnipegasus Solstice Festival and others.