Legendary Oriya singer and Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi president Sikandar Alam, popularly known as the Salabega of modern Orissa, passed away in a city nursing home here on Sunday night. He was 71 and is survived by his wife Naima Alam (singer), daughters Sophia Alam (actress) and Nazia Alam (singer).

Son of an IPS officer, Sikandar was born and brought up at Cuttack – the cultural capital of Orissa - and was trained in music by veterans like K.Adinarayana. He commenced his career in music with All India Radio in 1957 and seven years later had his debut in Oriya cinema “Laxmi” under direction of legendary singer-composer Balakrushna Dash. He lent his voice for 50 films, most of which are considered as classics, and composed music for two films during his career.

Although he served the State Agriculture department as a film officer, he was professional singer who dabbled and excelled in film and non-film genres of music. BBC and HMV had recorded his songs.

Recipient of the Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Orissa State Film Award, he also headed several prestigious cultural bodies like the Sangeet Sudhakar Balakrushna Dash Foundation and Sargam Symphony, an institution for music that he founded.

His mortal remains were taken in a procession from his home here to the burial ground in his home town of Cuttack via a number of prominent cultural institutions in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack on Monday where people paid their last respect. The institutions included Sanskruti Bhawan that houses the four State-owned Akademis including the Sangeet Natak Akademi that he was heading, Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, State's premiere college of performing arts in the capital and All India Radio, Cuttack.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Culture Minister Debi Prasad Mishra besides scores of prominent personalities of the State condoled the passing away of the veteran singer.