Legendary Bengali folk singer Amar Paul died at a state-run hospital on Saturday following a cerebral haemorrhage.

Paul, 96, a widower, breathed his last around 5-30 pm at the SSKM Hospital. Born on May 19, 1922 at Brahmanberia in undivided Bengal in an area now in Bangladesh, Paul took his first lessons in folk music from his mother Durgasundari Debi, and later learnt Hindustani classical music from Ustad Ayet Ali Khan.

After shifting base to Kolkata, he joined All India Radio as a grade artist and began lending his voice to films.

His rendition of the song Kotoi Ranga dekhi duniai‘ in Satyajit Ray’s Hirak Rajar Deshe brought him instant fame. His songs in films directed by the likes of Debaki Kumar Bose and Rituparno Ghosh touched the hearts of the music lovers.

The foremost urban exponent of the Bengali folk song today, Paul has performed extensively all over the state and attended seminars and workshops on folk music worldwide, while holding concerts in Tokyo, Bangladesh and the United States in the course of a professional career exceeding 50 years.

Numerous songs sung by Paul were issued in the form of gramophone records, audio-cassettes and CDs. He also published books on folk music such as Banglar Loksangeet and Banglaar Nadir Gaan.

A much-feted man, he received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his contribution to the folk music of West Bengal. He was honoured by the West Bengal State Academy of Dance, Music and Visual Arts, the Rabindra Bharati University, the Paachim Banga Sangeet Academy.

He was also a recipient of the Lalan Puraskar for folk music conferred by the state government.

Condoling Paul’s death, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it was an irreparable loss to Bengali folk music, and recalled his popular songs like Probhato Somoye Sachir Angina Majhe and Rai Jago Rai Jago.

RIP