The prestigious Sumitra Charat Ram Award for Lifetime Achievement for 2017 will be posthumously conferred on thumri maestro Girija Devi here on November 17.
The award, that was instituted six years ago to honour the memory of Delhi’s well-known art patron, Sumitra Charat Ram, will be presented at the Kamani Auditorium by Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri and accepted by the late singer’s daughter, Sudha Datta. In previous years, the award has been given to leading artistes like Pt Birju Maharaj, Kishori Amonkar, Pandit Jasraj and Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, among others.
Shobha Deepak Singh, Sumitra Charat Ram’s daughter and director of Sriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra (SBKK), who initiated the award, said: “It is with a heavy heart that we are presenting this award posthumously. She sang at the Kendra’s Shriram Shankarlal Music Festival only in March this year and little did one know that her words at that time would be prophetic. She had said, ‘I don’t know for how long I’ll sing, but singing at SBKK is always like homecoming. I have been part of the SBKK family since 1952 when I sang at the Constitution Club when the Kendra was founded'”.
The event will also witness an audio visual presentation on Girija Devi, and will conclude with a musical tribute by her disciples.
A recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award, Girija Devi, known famously as the thumri queen, was a celebrated classical singer of the Seniya and Benaras gharanas. She performed classical and light classical music and helped elevate the profile of thumri. Her repertoire included the semi-classical genres kajri, chaiti, and holi and she sang in the khayal, Indian folk music and tappa styles. She passed away on October 24, 2017.
The Sumitra Charat Ram Award is given to those individuals who have greatly contributed to the field of Indian classical music and dance or other disciplines of Indian art and culture, including theatre during the last 15 years and who have had a significant impact in promoting a particular art form.
Sumitra Charat Ram belonged to the illustrious Shri Ram family and played a key role in the revival of the performing arts traditions, specially kathak and Hindustani music in north India. She was also the founder of Shiram Bharatiya Kala Kendra.