A contemporary of Vidyadharibai of Banaras and Malka Jan of Agra, Badi Motibai of Banaras was one of the eminent singers of the Banaras gayaki of Thumri, Dadra, Chaiti and Hori along with Rasoolan Bai, Siddheswari Devi and many others. They were inheritors of great traditions of music from a glorious era of the past when music dominated the lives of musicians from childhood to death.
Amply encouraged by her father, a resident of Mirzapur, Badi Motibai started learning Thumri from Bade Ramdasji in Banaras at the age of 14 and later from Siyaji Mishra and Mithailal Beenkar. Husnabai and Rajeshvari Bai were her models.She learnt and practised her music with sincerity and eagerness. As a result, she attained fame from a very early age, and soon became a sought after vocalist. Her songs were broadcast from several stations of All India Radio including Allahabad and Lucknow Radio Stations. She later moved to Calcutta, where, along with Gauhar Jan and Malka Jan of Agra, she too received lessons from the inimitable Moujuddin Khan. Badi Motibai`s various recordings reveal a strong voice and solid classical training.
She was the recipient of the ITC Award in 1974 and died a few years later.
(with inputs from Peter Manuel`s `Thumri in Historical & Stylistic perspectives` and Reba Muhuri`s `Thumri O Baiji` (Bengali) )
These audio clips are courtesy live recordings of Badi Motibai from the CD series, Poorab Thumri, published by the Ahmedabad based Sangeet Kendra, a non profit organisation, established in 1948, which has focussed on Hindustani vocal music of the 20th century.