Devarati Ghosh, also known to many as Windmills Country, who among many other much more important contributions to the cultural and educational community was a Saving Country Music contributor, regular commenter, and behind-the-scenes counselor and compass for years, died on September 2nd, 2016 at JFK Medical Center of a massive coronary. She was 38-years-old.
Working under the pen name Deb B for the reality TV competition site Mjsbigblog, and Windmills Country on Twitter and Saving Country Music among other places, Ghosh was a tireless champion for women in country and American music, as well as the authenticity and accuracy in reporting and charting of music. Her lengthy, dedicated, and detailed work into subjects such as Billboard‘s 2012 chart changes that boosted country songs played on pop formats, and her signature “deep dives” against the systemic inequality female artists face on country radio resulted in palpable and verifiable change in the music marketplace that would have never occurred without her contributions.
Unlike much of the writing on Saving Country Music, Ghosh did not just post what she believed or what she felt about a certain artist or a certain subject. Through detailed research and analysis, she would present certifiable facts behind her assertions that were not just brilliant and enlightening in how they opened up esoteric subjects to common understanding, but that were bulletproof in their conclusions. She did not take up every cause, but the ones she did, she won the argument, and always had the final word, bolstered by hard facts and detailed statistics. Though dogged and determined, she was also incredibly patient and willing to explain even the most minute detail to both major music power players, to the most common fly-by-night fans in order to create a common understanding, while also being willing to acquiesce that taste and appeal were things that numbers could not always refute or explain.
She was an important contributor to the Change The Conversation movement founded by CMT senior VP music strategy Leslie Fram, artist manager and Rounder Records VP Tracy Gershon, and Middle Tennessee State University recording industry department chair and The Tennessean columnist Beverly Keel in the aftermath of 2015’s Tomatogate controversy.
Devarati Ghosh made the hardest elements of the music industry easy to understand, was a chart wonk inhabiting her own echelon of expertise, but moreover, she was a music fan who brought her passion for research to the medium to challenge norms and dug-in perspectives in a way mere commentary could never equate to in effectiveness. What Windmills Country did was irreplaceable, because nobody had ever taken such an analytical approach to music commentary and criticism before, and nobody possesses her unique skill set, disposition, and passion to ever do it again.
Beyond the music realm, Devarati Ghosh was arguably much more accomplished, though her music comrades knew little about her personal or professional life. Though an obituary says she she was an Associate Director for Carnegie Council for Ethic Affair in New York City for 8 years, according to Carnegie Council Vice President of Finance Eva Becker who Saving Country Music spoke to Tuesday morning (9-20), Ghosh never worked at the organization. Instead, this was likely a cover to pursue her country music efforts. Ghosh was from a very traditional family.
According to a Billboard article from July of 2015 highlighting one of Ghosh’s numerous studies into the issue of women on country radio, she is listed as a political economist and Stanford University Ph.D. candidate, which can be confirmed from numerous sources. She is quoted as saying she “fell into blogging about the country music charts due to an intersection of passion for the music and a curiosity about chart outcomes.”
Saving Country Music and much of the country music blogsphere that relied on the analysis and perspective of Windmills Country is devastated by this news. Specific to Saving Country Music, Devarati Ghosh contributed to dozens of articles via behind-the-scenes guidance, fact checking, and topic discovery. If any article or idea had statistics or charts at the crux of the matter, it was always important to first double check facts and assertions with Windmills—a service she offered to Saving Country Music and others pro bono, while contributing lengthy commentary in the comments section, sometimes vehemently disagreeing with this site’s opinions. She was a natural mentor working hours on country music problems from passion, not for payment. Her efforts significantly and irrevocably contributed to the movement to save country music.
Devarati Ghosh was born on September 22, 1977 in Flushing, New York. Thursday would have been her 39th birthday. According to the funeral home obituary, she is survived by her parents, several cousins, uncles and aunts, and many close and dear friends.
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Vickye Fisher of For The Country Record, and journalist Grady Smith helped confirm some of the information in this article.