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By A Newsman

Kolkata, 24 October: GIRIJA Devi, fondly called the thumri queen of Indian music, breathed her last at BM Birla Heart Research Centre at Alipore in Kolkata today night.

The 88-year-old vocalist was admitted to the private hospital in the afternoon after she suffered a cardiac arrest. Within a few hours she passed away around 10 pm tonight.

Hearing the news of her death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has offered condolences in two back-to-back tweets.

“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,” PM’s tweets read.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too has offered her condolences on Twitter. “Girija Devi’s death is a great loss to the music world. We were honoured to confer her with Banga Bibhushan in 2015,” she has written.

Girija Devi was born to zamindar Ramdeo Rai at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh on 8 May 1929. Her father played the harmonium and taught her music. Girija Devi also took lessons in rendering khyal and tappa from vocalist and sarangi player Sarju Prasad Misra starting at the age of five.

She made her public debut in 1949 on All India Radio Allahabad and presented her first public concert in Bihar in 1951. She worked as a faculty member of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata in the 1980s and also taught at the Banaras Hindu University in early 1990s.

Girija Devi was conferred Padma Shri in 1972, Padma Bhushan in 1989, Padma Vibhushan in 2016, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1977, Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2010, Maha Sangeet Samman Award in 2012, Sangeet Samman Award ( Dover Lane Music Conference), and GiMA Awards in 2012.