Legendary Kashmiri singer Raj Begum, the voice that mesmerized millions for over seven decades, died here on Wednesday, family sources said. She was 89.
Begum, called the “Nightingale of Kashmir”, breathed her last after a protracted illness, a relative said.
She 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.
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.
She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2002 and the Sangeet Natak Academy award in 2013.
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.