At the age of 88, veteran classical singer Girija Devi passed away on Tuesday after a cardiac arrest. One of the foundational figures of Banaras and Senia gharanas, Devi brought thumri out of the courts and kothas to the theatre and auditoriums. After getting married to an upper-class family, the “Queen of thumri” was not allowed to sing for Nawabs. That’s when Devi started singing for radio and at conferences giving new ways to her passion for music.
After getting initial training from her father, Devi learnt classical music from Sarju Prasad Misra and Chand Mishra. Growing up in Banaras and singing wedding songs for her doll’s wedding, Devi showed her love for music right from childhood. Her repertoire included the semi-classical genres kajri, chaiti, and holi along with khyal, Indian folk music and tappa. (Also see: Remembering Thumri Queen Girija Devi through rare photos from the Indian Express archives)
As we remember the Hindustani music doyen and mourn a great loss to India, what better way to show our respect than remember her through her music. Here are five of her popular songs/performances available online:
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, her musical journey found Dr Radhakrishnan, Sarojini Naidu, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi in the audiences. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1989 and Padma Vibhushan in 2016.