Legendary Kashmiri singer and Padma Shri awardee Raj Begum died here today after prolonged illness. She was 89.
Begum, called the “Nightingale of Kashmir”, breathed her last at her daughter's residence in Chanapora area of the city, officials said.
She is survived by two sons and a daughter.
Raj Begum was one of the most recognized female singers in the Kashmir Valley, having rendered thousands of songs from Radio Kashmir in Srinagar and in live concerts at other places in India and abroad.
Her captivating voice has ruled generations of Kashmiri music lovers. Starting off as wedding singer, she gradually rose to become one of the most powerful female voices of Kashmir.
Raj Begum was awarded Padma Shri in 2002 and Sangeet Akademi award in 2013. She was also bestowed with State award by Jammu and Kashmir government in 2009.
Born in 1927, the journey to the hearts of Kashmiris was an uphill task for Begum, who was also fondly called the "Asha Bhosle of Kashmir". Singing, particularly for women, was considered a big taboo in the conservative society those days.
Undeterred by criticism from family and relatives, Begum continued to pursue her career shifting from festive marriage singing to melodies and classical singing after she joined Radio Kashmir in the 1940s.
Legendary Bollywood star, Dilip Kumar who heard her at a hotel in Srinagar in the 1970s, famously eulogised her saying, "As long as Kashmir has Raj Begum its mesmerizing voices shall never die."
Begum's death has been widely condoled.