Guwahati: Assam's eminent folk singer Khagen Mahanta died at his residence here today after a prolonged illness, family sources said.
He was 72 and is survived by his singer wife Archana Mahanta, son Angarag ‘Papon' Mahanta, a popular singer and a daughter.
He was suffering from coronary and related ailments for the last year and passed away at 3:30 p.m. at his residence in Ambikagiri area.
Mahanta along with his wife was well-known for popularising Bihu songs on stage across the state and outside. Besides Bihu songs, he also essayed into traditional genres of Assamese music including Borgeet and folk music of different communities of the region.
Mahanta was born on February 26, 1942 at Nagaon in Central Assam and displayed musical talent from an early age and performed in concerts from the age of 15. He got the oppurtunity of singing in Delhi Doordarshan in 1959, during the inaugural year of the channel's launch, with his programme much appreciated by viewers. Mahanta was actively involved in the state's “language movement” in 1960 under the stalwarts Bishnuprasad Rabha, Hemanga Biswas and Jugal Das.
He was a member of the group called “Harmony”. He popularized human values through his compositions and also participated in the World Peace festival in Calcutta in the early sixties. In 1961 his first gramophone recorded song was broadcast from Guwahati All India Radio center.
He was a recognized A grade artist of the AIR and contributed to almost all genres of Assamese music like Lokageet, Okoni geet, musicals and dramas.
Recipient of the Sangeet Natak Academy award, Mahanta was also awarded the title of Sangeetacharya along with Film Craft Award and Shrimoy award.