Both dance and music figured in Shobha Gurtu`s family background. She was born Bhanumati Shirodkar in Belgaum (now in Karnataka State) on February 8, 1925 and was initially trained by her mother, Menakabai Shirodkar, a noted dancer schooled in the Atrauli Jaipur `gayaki` of Ustad Alladiya Khan. On her marriage to Vishwanath Gurtu, she took the name Shobha Gurtu.
Shobha continued her musical education with ustads of the eminence of Nathan Khan in classical singing and Ghamman Khan in light classical and popular music.
The grand dame of Thumri was thoroughly steeped in pure Classical Music. But she was better known for her light Classical Music. Shobha Gurtu was considered to be in a class by herself not merely because of the unique qualities of her warm and sensuous voice that blended strength with suppleness and vigour with grace. It was equally much the unique combination of talent and soul that she brought to bear on her music. She rendered with equal ease, everything from thumri, dadra, hori, kajri and chaiti to ghazal, bhajan and Marathi Natya Sangeet, with all regional and stylistic variations blended subtly.
Her father in law, Pandit Narayan Nath Gurtu, the erudite scholar and musician, also influenced her style. She was particularly influenced by singer Begum Akhtar and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.
A popular broadcaster and television artiste, she regularly featured in major musical events held all over the country. She had also created the musical scores for several Marathi and Hindi movies and had also lent her voice to the silver screen.
In 1989 she received the Sangeet Natak Academy award. She also got the Lata Mangeshkar Puraskar, Shahu Maharaj Puraskar and the Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar. In 2002, she was awarded the Padma Bhushan.
Shobha Gurtu passed away on 27th Sept 2004, after reigning for five decades as the queen of Thumri.