“I’ll never forget the first time I saw Sahodra. It was 1965. I’d been performing at a club in Sydney, and she walked by wearing an emerald green sari. She was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.
“So beautiful, she took my breath away. We exchanged pleasantries and she told me she was training to be a midwife. I then tracked her down at a Sydney hospital.
“My persistence paid off. We married on June 29, 1966. There was no honeymoon. She moved into my tiny one-bedroom apartment. Despite our humble beginnings, we were immeasurably happy.”
Kamahl and Sahodra went on to have two children, musician Rajan, 52, and singer Rani, 50, who is married and living in Singapore. They now share a granddaughter, Isabelle Flynn.
“I honestly never imagined I’d be successful. I certainly never dreamt I’d become a world-famous singer with over 50 gold and platinum records,” he says, genuinely humbled.
Malaysia-born Kamahl arrived in Australia in 1953 to further his studies at college in Adelaide.
“I was 19, and I played more cricket and hockey than I studied. One night at a party I sang ‘Nature Boy’ [by Nat King Cole] and was so shy I asked that the lights be turned off.”
Kamahl says despite lacking confidence, but with a desire to sound like Nat King Cole, the wick was lit on what would become a stellar career, selling over 20 million albums worldwide.
“I met Rupert Murdoch in 1958. I was singing at a club in Adelaide and, to my astonishment, he became my mentor. The following year he bought a television station and invited me to perform regularly on its night-time variety show. Rupert then insisted I try my luck in Sydney.”
Kamahl says he lived with Rupert and his first wife, Patricia, for three years, forging a close friendship with the media tycoon that continues to this day.
“Some of my career highlights have included performing at Carnegie Hall twice – on one occasion being introduced by [entertainer] Bob Hope – and appearing at the London Palladium.
“Meeting President Obama in 2011 was a pinch-yourself moment. He has such an overwhelming charisma, I went slightly gaga. But meeting Prince Harry at the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney was the pinnacle. He is an amazing man. So genuine and sincere.”
Kamahl is a firm believer in serendipity, and both giving and receiving kindness. He is currently working with author Keith Cameron on a book to be called, The Kindness of Strangers.
Looking back over his life, the singer says he feels truly blessed, despite a hiccup in his marriage.
“I’m amazed I’m still going and continue to be in demand as an entertainer. One of the lowest points in my showbiz life was being made the butt of racist nonsense on Hey Hey It’s Saturday. But I don’t dwell on nasty stuff.”
Now he says he realises if it wasn’t for his wife Sahodra wisely looking after their finances, he probably wouldn’t have a brass razoo!
“She really is the wind beneath my wings. I now realise I probably wasn’t the most attentive husband. Fame can do that – it can distract from what really matters,
and that’s family.
“But I’m keeping everything crossed we can work through this rough patch, as she really is my everything,” he says, warmly.