Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi (About this sound pronunciation (help·info)); 4 February 1922 – 24 January 2011) was an Indian vocalist from Karnataka in the Hindustani classical tradition. He is known for the khayal form of singing, as well as for his popular renditions of devotional music (bhajans and abhangs).
In 1998, he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, the highest honour conferred by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama. Subsequently, he received the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, in 2009.
Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi was born in a town called Ron, in the erstwhile Dharwad (today Gadag) district of Karnataka on 4 February 1922 to Gururaj Joshi (who had authored a Kannada-English dictionary) and Godavaribai, a home-maker.[page needed] Bhimsen was the eldest among 16 siblings. He lost his mother at a young age and was raised by his stepmother.[page needed]
As a child, Bhimsen was fascinated with music and musical instruments like the Harmonium and Tanpura and would often follow processions accompanied by music bands. This exercise often tired him and he would curl up somewhere and sleep, forcing his parents to go to the police after efforts to trace him failed. Fed up, his father Gururajacharya Joshi come up with the solution, writing “Joshi mastarancha mulga” (son of teacher Joshi) on Bhimsen’s shirts. This worked and those who found the boy sleeping would safely deposit him back to his house.
His first music teacher was Agasara Channappa of Kurtakoti, who had trained with the veteran singer Inayat Khan. After learning Ragas Bhairav and Bhimpalasi . The one and only unique vigorous style of rendering he developed along with advanced trainings by other teachers is attributed to the basic training he received from Channappa. Bhimsen Joshi next went to Pandit Shyamacharya Joshi, who hailed from Bagalkot and was a priest and classical singer. Pandit Shyamacharya taught him to sing as well as play the harmonium. Shree Shamacharya Joshi was a descendant of Great Haridasa Shree Mahipati Dasaru. As revealed by Shree Shamacharya Joshi himself when he was alive, it was a turning point in Bhimsen Joshi’s life that Shree Shyamacharya Joshi went to Bombay for recording his songs by HMV where Shree Bhimsen Joshi also accompanied him and due to ill health Shree Shyamacharya Joshi returned to Bagalkot after recording few songs and asked Shree Bhimsen Joshi to render rest of the songs which Shree Bhimsen Joshi did and this proved to be a major breakthrough for Shree Bhimsen Joshi in the initial stage of his career.