The legendary singer of the Benaras gharana belonged to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh but had settled down in Kolkata

Eminent classical singer and Padma Vibhushan awardee Girija Devi – often hailed as the Queen of the Thumri style of singing – passed away at the BM Birla Heart Research Centre in Kolkata on Tuesday night following a cardiac arrest. She was 88 and is survived by her daughter.

“Girija Devi’s condition was quite critical when she was brought to the hospital. She was admitted to the CCU and was under constant watch. But she passed away around 8.45 p.m.,” a hospital spokesperson said.

Several distinguished persons, including President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and a host of people from the film, art and culture fraternity have condoled her death.

A legendary singer of the Benaras gharana, Girija Devi was awarded the Padma Shri in 1972, Padma Bhushan in 1989 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2016.

Though Girija Devi decided to make Kolkata her home but her birthplace Kashi or Varanasi – always had a special place in her heart. The legendary classical singer had wanted to build a world-class music academy here, a wish that remained unfulfilled.

In an interview to news agency PTI some years ago, Girija Devi had rued the fact that she had been asking successive Uttar Pradesh governments “for land for a music academy in Varanasi for the past 50 years” but that no government paid heed to her request. “I could not get any land for the proposed academy. If I was given the land, I would have built a world class academy of music here (in Varanasi),” Devi had told PTI.

The legendary singer had even insisted that “If there was an academy in Varanasi, I would not have settled in Kolkata.”