One of the foremost exponents of the Purab ang thumri in present times, Girija Devi was born in Banaras in the year 1929. Her father Ramdas Rai was an ardent music lover and took a special interest in harmonium playing. She studied vocal music from the age of four or five to fifteen from Sarju Prasad Mishra. After the demise of her guru, she became a disciple of Shrichand Mishra.
She rose to popularity through the many concerts that she presented in concerts held in various parts of the country and through her broadcasts on the radio. Extensively recorded on several labels, Girija Devi sings a variety of vocal forms like khayal, tappa, thumri, dadra, holi, kajri, chaiti, and jhoola.
Girija Devi is the recipient of several prestigious awards. She was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1972, and the Padma Bhushan in 1989. She was also awarded the Fellowship of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi in 1977.