Tribute to a Maestro
Acclaimed by music enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike, Padma Vibhushan Dr. Girija Devi was one of India’s greatest vocalists of the Banaras and Senia traditions and one of the last masters of the Purab ang gayaki of the Banaras Gharana. Acclaimed by music enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike, she dedicated her life to the cause of Hindustani Classical Vocal music, performing and teaching at the highest level of musical excellence, for six decades. Born in Banaras, she was initiated into music at the age of five under the tutelage of Pandit Sarju Prasad Mishra. Her training period lasted for ten years until her guru’s death. She later continued her training with Pandit Srichandra Mishra. She was renowned for her amazing proficiency in all the vocal forms of northern India, Khayal, Thumri, Dadra, Tappa, Kajri, Hori, Chaiti and Bhajan. Girija Devi started her musical career with a solo concert in 1949 at an All India Radio broadcast from Allahabad and was a constant invitee to concerts in India and abroad since. She has been heaped with awards and accolades, including the Padma Shri in 1972, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1977, the Padma Bhushan in 1989, the ITC Award in 2003 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Ratna Sadasya (Fellowship) in 2010 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2016. She served as a member of the Central Audition Board of AIR and Sangeet Natak Akademi, Delhi. She had been a Guru for over a decade at the SRA, after which she was a visiting Professor at the Banaras Hindu University. She rejoined ITC-SRA in 2003 and her commitment in upholding this art form continued in her unstinted guidance to scholars till her death on 24th October 2017. She passed away in a hospital in Kolkata following a cardiac arrest.