Dr. Girija Devi is a legend in the field of Hindustani Classical Music. The Padma Vibhushan has come her way in 2016, at the age of 87. She is also the icon on a 5 Rupee stamp recently released by the Government of India’s Postal Department.
But her eventful musical career has been dotted with awards of the highest order. A Guru of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, she is a doyen of the Benares Gharana. Variously described as Sangeet Saraswati and the Queen of Thumri, she is an honorary DLitt from as many as seven universities in India. As one of the last masters of the Purab Ang Gayaki, she has received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Ratna Sadasya (Fellowship) in 2010, three decades after the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1977.
Dr Girija Devi received the Padma Shri in 1972 and the Padma Bhushan in 1989. The ITC Samman was also conferred upon her in 2003.
Born in Banaras, she was initiated into music at the age of five under the tutelage of Pandit Sarju Prasad Mishra. Her training continued with Pandit Srichandra Mishra. She is renowned for her amazing proficiency in all the vocal forms of northern India, Khayal, Thumri, Dadra, Tappa, Kajri, Hori, Chaiti and Bhajan.
Smt Girija Devi started her musical career with a solo concert in 1949 at an All India Radio broadcast from Allahabad and has been a constant invitee to concerts in India and abroad since. She has served as a member of the Central Audition Board of AIR and Sangeet Natak Akademi, Delhi.
She is the pride of ITC Sangeet Research Academy where she is known to all and sundry as ‘Appaji’. She is dearly loved for her magnetic personality, lively sense of humour, colourful Benarasi Hindi speech, instant connect with every individual, twinkling eyes and infectious laugh that puts everyone at ease.