Tributes to Kesarbai Kerkar, the consummate queen of the Jaipur Atrauli gharana, on her 42nd death anniversary today.

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Tributes to Kesarbai Kerkar, the consummate queen of the Jaipur Atrauli gharana, on her 42nd death anniversary today.

One of the greatest singers ever, ‘Surashree’ Kesarbai Kerkar, with her powerful molten golden voice, left an indelible mark on Hindustani music.

Kesarbai Kerkar, from the village of Keri in Goa, was the disciple of such eminent gurus as Ramkrishnabuva Vaze, Bhaskarbuva Bakhale and Ustad Alladiya Khan. She studied music under these masters for no less than 25 years, and became a proficient exponent of the gayaki of the Jaipur gharana.

Although she was one of the most rarely heard contemporary classical musicians, she was one of the most admired artistes and her name became almost legendary as one of the most dedicated sangeet-sadhaks of this century. Her music and her personality were alike dignified.

Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore honoured her with the title ‘Surashree’. The greatest of musicians (which includes M S Subbulakshmi, Bhimsen Joshi, Siddeshwari Devi and a host of others) and every single musicologist has declared her as the “queen” of music.

In the year 1969 she was honoured with Padma Bhushan by the government of India. In the same year, the government of Maharashtra conferred upon her the title of “Rajya Gayika”.

Though she had a concert singing career of 35 years (she stopped singing in 1965 at the relatively young age of 73), which at the time was long, it has been over 50 years and nearly two generations have heard only her records. Yet her magic lives on, 40 years after she passed away on a wet September day in 1977.

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