India’s Ace Hindustani classical vocalist and Padma Bhusahan awardee, Kishori Amonkar passed away in Mumbai Monday evening. She was 84. She was considered to be one of the foremost singers in the Hindustani tradition and is an innovator of the Jaipur gharana, or a community of musicians sharing a distinctive musical style.
Kishori Amonkar performed in the classical genre khyal and the light classical genres thumri and bhajan. She trained under her mother, classical singer Mogubai Kurdikar of the Jaipur gharana (musical tradition of Jaipur), but experimented with a variety of vocal styles in her career. She is considered one of the pre-eminent representatives of Hindustani classical music.
Amonkar’s work in light music has informed her classical singing and she modified her Jaipur gharana performance style by applying features from other gharanas. She has created many compositions for a number of ragas. Amonkar’s students include Manik Bhide, Meena Joshi, Suhasini Mulgaonkar, Raghunandan Panshikar, Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar, Devaki Pandit, Mira Panshikar, Shivraj Shitole, and her granddaughter Tejashree Amonkar.
In the early 1940s, Amonkar began to receive vocal lessons in Hindustani classical music from Anjanibai Malpekar (Bhendi Bazar Gharana) and her mother Mogubai Kurdikar and later received training from tutors of several gharanas. Amonkar became interested in film music and sang playback for the 1964 movie Geet Gaya Patharon Ne, but returned to classical music because of bad experiences in the movie industry. Amonkar lost her voice for two years in the late 1950s for unknown reasons. She sang for the 1990 Hindi film Drishti.
Kishori Amonkar was married to Ravindra Amonkar, who died in the early 1980s. The couple had two sons.
Amonkar received the national awards Padma Bhushan in 1987 and Padma Vibhushan in 2002. She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 1985 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for 2009.