Thumri exponent and veteran classical singer, Girija Devi, passed away on Tuesday here, following a cardiac arrest. She was 88 and is survived by a daughter.
Fondly called Appa ji, Girija Devi was taken to the city's BM Birla Heart Research Centre with cardiovascular ailments.
"She came in a very bad state in the evening. Yet, our doctors tried their level best to stabilise Girija Devi's health parameter. During that phase she had another attack and could not bare that. She died around 9 pm tonight," stated BM Birla official.
Born in Varanasi, on May 8 1929, to Ramdeo Rai, a zamindar, Girija Devi started taking her lessons in singing khyal and tappa from vocalist and sarangi player Sarju Prasad Misra at the age of five.
At the age of nine, she starred in a movie, named 'Yaad Rahe' and continued her studies under Sri Chand Misra in a variety of styles.
She made her public debut in 1949 on All India Radio Allahabad, after getting married to a businessman of Banaras, Madhusudan Jain, in 1946 at the age of 15.
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.
Expressing his grief over her death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "Saddened by demise of Girija Devi ji. Indian classical music has lost one of its most melodious voices. My thoughts are with her admirers."
"Girija Devi ji's music appealed across generations. Her pioneering efforts to popularise Indian classical music will always be remembered," he added.
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.
Girija Deviwas honoured with Padma Shri in 1972, Padma Bhushan in 1989 and Padma Vibhushan last year.