Eminent classical singer Girija Devi dead at 88 in Kolkata

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New Delhi | Updated: October 24, 2017 11:38:55 PM

Girija Devi, one of India's foremost classical singers, who was also considered as queen of Thumri, breathed her last in Kolkata today.

girija devi, girija devi no more, noted classical singer girija deviGirija Devi breathed her last in Kolkata today. (ANI)

Eminent classical singer Girija Devi has passed away at the age of 88 in Kolkata, hospital sources have revealed late evening. The singer, who followed the Seniya and Banaras Gharana, was honoured with the prestigious Padma Vibhushan award last year. Girija Devi suffered a heart attack on Tuesday evening, after which she was was immediately rushed to the hospital, where she passed away. Born in Varanasi on May 8, 1929, she was one of the most well-known exponents of Thumri.

Girija Devi had first learnt the art of music from her father Ramdeo Rai and then later she took singing lessons from vocalist and sarangi player Sarju Prasad Misra. Popularly known as Appa ji, the singer first made her public debut on  All India Radio Allahabad in the year 1949.Girija Devi had faced strict opposition from her grandmother and mother as it was traditionally believed that women from upper caste should not perform publicly. She also worked as a faculty member of ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata during 1980s and in Banaras Hindu University in early 1990s.

Girija Devi was married to Madhusudan Jain, a businessman of Banaras, at the age of 15. “My whole life revolved around the river Ganga and singing. I spent long hours playing on its sandy banks with friends, learning how to swim and catch fish. I would catch a fish, observe it fighting for its life, and let it go. It is amazing to think that I brought the agony of the fish fighting for its life into my music so many years later,” she had once written in her website.
Condoling her death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Saddened by demise of Girija Devi ji. Indian classical music has lost one of its most melodious voices. My thoughts are with her admirers.”

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