Vidushi Girija Devi, the quintessential Thumri Queen of the Seniya Banaras gharana of Indian classical music, passed away on Tuesday night in Kolkata of cardiac arrest. She was 88.
Girija Devi had been suffering from various old-age complications, and had suffered two heart attacks in recent times, hospital authorities informed The Daily Star's Kolkata correspondent.
Born on May 8, 1929 in Varanasi, India, Girija Devi is credited with elevating the profile of Thumri, bearing the flag for the Purabi-ang style of rendition, while also performing folk and semi-classical styled kajri, chaiti, holi, jhulan, bhajan and tappa. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 1972, Padma Bhushan in 1989 and the Padma Bibhushan (2016). She performed in Bangladesh at the inaugural edition of the Bengal Classical Music Festival, and again in 2016. She was scheduled to perform at the MTV India Music Summit in Jaipur on October 27, alongside Pt. Jasraj.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted condolences and tribute to the legendary artiste, as did India's most eminent musical personalities, including Lata Mangeshkar, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Shubha Mudgal, Javed Akhtar and Pankaj Udhas. Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty, Ustad Rashid Khan and Bickram Ghosh also mourned the singer's death.