Girija Devi

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For the Indian politician, see Girija Devi (politician).
Girija Devi
Girija Devi at Bhopal (1).JPG
Girija Devi performing in Bharat Bhavan Bhopal on 10 July 2015
Background information
Born (1929-05-08) 8 May 1929 (age 87)
Varanasi, United Provinces, British Raj
Genres Hindustani classical music
Instruments singing
Years active 1949–present

Girija Devi (born 8 May 1929) is an Indian classical singer of the Seniya and Banaras gharanas. She performs classical and light classical music and has helped elevate the profile of thumri.

Early life[edit]

Girija Devi was born in Varanasi, on 8 May 1929, to Ramdeo Rai, a Bhumihar Brahmin 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 career[edit]

Girija Devi Performing at Bharat Bhavan Bhopal in July 2015 in a program – Uttar Pradesh Mahotsav

Devi made her public debut 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 not to 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 continues to perform in 2009.[2][4]

Devi sings in the Banaras gharana and performs the purabi ang thumri style typical of the tradition, whose status she helped elevate.[3][5] Her repertoire includes the semi-classical genres kajri, chaiti, and holi and she sings khyal, Indian folk music, and tappa.[3][6] The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians states that her semi-classical singing combines her classical training with the regional characteristics of the songs of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.[2] Devi is considered as "Queen of Thumri" She is known to have been the teacher of the founder of The Alankar School of Music, Mrs. Mamta Bhargava whose Indian Classical music school has attracted students from hundreds of miles away.


Devi was awarded the Padma Shri in 1972, the Padma Bhushan in 1989 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2016,[7] received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1977 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2010.[8][9] Devi has received many more awards in which some are:

  • Maha Sangeet Samman Award (2012)
  • Sangeet Samman Award ( Dover Lane Music Conference)
  • GiMA Awards 2012 (Lifetime Achievement)
  • TanaRiri Puraskar


  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. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  8. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. 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 reading[edit]

External links[edit]