Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Girija Devi (8 May 1929 – 24 October 2017) was an Indian classical singer of the Seniya and Banaras gharanas. She performed classical and light classical music and helped elevate the profile of thumri. She died on 24 October 2017.

Girija Devi
Girija Devi at Bhopal (1).JPG
Devi performing in Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal (July 2015)
Background information
Born 8 May 1929
Varanasi, Banaras State, British Raj
Died 24 October 2017 (aged 88)
Kolkata, Western Bengal, Republic of India
Genres Hindustani classical music
Instruments vocal
Years active 1949–2017


Early lifeEdit

Devi was born in Varanasi, on 8 May 1929, to Ramdeo Rai, a zamindar.[1] Her father played the harmonium and taught music, and had Devi take lessons in singing khyal and tappa from vocalist and sarangi player Sarju Prasad Misra starting at the age of five.[2] She starred in the movie Yaad rahe aged nine and continued her studies under Sri Chand Misra in a variety of styles.[2]

Performing careerEdit

Devi in 2006

Devi made her public debut in 1949 on All India Radio Allahabad, after getting married to a businessman circa 1946, but faced opposition from her mother and grandmother, because it was traditionally believed that no upper class woman should perform publicly.[1][2][3] Devi agreed to not perform privately for others, but gave her first public concert in Bihar in 1951.[2] She studied with Sri Chand Misra until he died in the early 1960s, worked as a faculty member of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata in the 1980s and of the Banaras Hindu University during the early 1990s, and taught several students to preserve her musical heritage.[2] Devi often toured and continued to perform in 2009.[2][4]

Devi sang in the Banaras gharana and performed the purabi ang thumri style typical of the tradition, whose status she helped elevate.[3][5] Her repertoire included the semi-classical genres kajri, chaiti, and holi and she sang khyal, Indian folk music, and tappa.[3][6] The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians once stated that her semi-classical singing combined her classical training with the regional characteristics of the songs of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.[2] Devi is considered as Queen of Thumri. When ever Girija debi was present at Sarodia Abanindra Maitra's concerts, she used to request him to play specific ragas like Kafi Kanada, Sudha Pilu, Basant Bahar, others. Abanindra after listening her performance at Prayag University Allahabad,on raga Lalit, Bhairab Bahar he learned Thumris from her for quite some time. She was a pioneer of Purab gharana and Hindustani Classical and non classical vocal music. ( Pg 87,89, Autobiography of sarodia Abanindra Maitra)



  1. ^ a b Ramnarayan, Gowri (11 November 2008). "Queen of thumri". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Dutta, Amelia (2001). "Devi, Girija". In Sadie, Stanley. The New Grove dictionary of music and musicians. 7 (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan Publishers. pp. 265–266. ISBN 0-333-60800-3. 
  3. ^ a b c Tandon, Aditi (17 February 2004). "Future of folk music uncertain, warns Girija Devi". The Tribune. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  4. ^ Trivedi, Sukumar (5 January 2009). "Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia works a charm with his magic flute". The Indian Express. Retrieved 11 April 2009. 
  5. ^ Dorian, Frederick; Broughton, Simon; Ellingham, Mark; McConnachie, James; Trillo, Richard; Duane, Orla (2000). World Music: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides. p. 91. ISBN 1-85828-636-0. 
  6. ^ Kumar, Raj (2003). Essays on Indian music. Discovery Publishing House. ISBN 81-7141-719-1. 
  7. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  8. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2009. 
  9. ^ "Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards – Hindustani Music – Vocal". Sangeet Natak Akademi. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2009. 

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit