Artists and musicians use talent to honor King Bhumibol



King Bhumibol is serving as an inspiration to many artists and musicians who have turned their brushes, pastels and instruments towards creating new murals, portraits and music depicting the King and his life as a means of honoring the late monarch.

King Bhumibol was artistically inclined, excelling as a musician, painter and photographer. He played saxophone and clarinet and composed 44 big band tunes, some of which were used on Broadway in Michael Todd’s “Peep Show” in 1950. When international jazz stars gave concerts in Bangkok, it was not unusual for them to join in a late night jam session with the King at his palace. In the early years of his reign, King Bhumibol played jazz for the people on national radio every Friday night with his group the Or Sor Orchestra.

As King Bhumibol was an international figure, artistic tributes have not been confined to Thais. Eight singers and musicians from around the world collaborated to produce a music video of a song honoring King Bhumibol titled “An Everlasting Light.” James Flynn and Keithen Carter wrote the lyrics and the music was composed by Frank Herrgott. The video, which can be seen on Youtube, features singers from the Netherlands, the Philippines, Ireland, Japan, France, India, Thailand and the United States.

Legendary Thai folk singer Add Carabao also wrote and recorded a new song to honor the late King called “Por Bhumibol” or Father Bhumibol. Singing to just an acoustic guitar and harmonica, it has a Dylanesque quality and contains a vow to follow the examples set by the late monarch. “He gave all his might to rule this land with fairness,” Add sings.

Other musicians who are local stars also penned songs to try and capture their feelings about the King Bhumibol.  They include 20 well-known singers from various record labels who jointly recorded a ballad called “Music of the Father” as well as individual songs written and recorded by controversial rocker Sek Loso, progressive rocker Thanes Warakulnukroh, and rap star Fukking Hero.

In Bangkok, alumni of Silpakorn University, the Kingdom’s premier art college, have joined brushes to begin creating 89 paintings depicting the King and his life’s work. Once completed, they will be exhibited on the university’s campus for the public to see. The painters are some of the most prominent in Thailand, such as Reungsak Boonyawanich and Somyos Trisanee.

In Chiang Rai, the northernmost province of Thailand, national artist Chalermchai Kositpipat and a corps of other painters created a 17-yard mural on the province’s Art Bridge depicting the life of the late king and his family.

In addition, the Fine Arts Department was waived all entrance fees to the National Museum and all historical parks and archaeological sites under its supervision nationwide until Jan 31.