She got her foremost teaching from her mother, Menekabai Shirodkar, a professional dancer. Her first formal training she received under Ustad Bhurji Khan. She learned semi-classical form like Dadra, Thumri from Ustad Ghamman Khan, who was apparently her mother’s guru as well.
She became widely popular in Thumri and started performing Thumri in various concerts. Soon she attained the tag of ‘Thumri Queen’. The Gramophone Company of India released her debut album ‘At Her Best..Shobha Gurtu’ in 1979. This album is considered as one of the highest ranked classic recording which displays her glaring voice, greatly rooted in musical style of Up during the 19th century. She along with Ghazal King Mehdi Hassan has released a Ghazal album titled Tarz.
Both of the form, light music songs and classical songs were widely popular. It was her Thumri that earned her worldwide recognition. She was also well-known for the ‘Abhniaya’ ang in her boisterous voice. Since she was specialized in semi-classical forms like Dadra, Kajri, Hori, and Thumri, she improvised them by blending with sheer classical music. That is one of the main reason why her Thumri is so famous.
She has also sung few Bollywood songs as well, among them the most popular was “Sayyan Rooth Gaye” from the film Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki in 1979.
In her illustrious career, she has won numerous Awards and Indian Government awarded her with Padma Bhushan Award in 2002.
She was married to Vishwanath Gurtu and together the couple had two sons named, Trilok and Narendra.