Nirmalendu Chowdhury took lessons in folk songs and folk music from Abdul Majid and Abdur Rahim in mymensingh. Later, he took lessons in tagore songs from Ashokbijay Raha at santiniketan. In 1955 Nirmalendu Chowdhury sang a folk song from Sylhet at the Banga Sangskrti Sammelan (Bengal Cultural Conference). Later that year, he won a gold medal singing at an international folk song convention in Warsaw. He subsequently took part in several cultural programmes in India and abroad, making Indian folk songs known internationally. He recorded more than a hundred songs. He was associated with films, as a playback singer and actor. He was also known as a composer. His collection of songs was published as Epar Bangla Opar Banglar Gan (Songs of both Bengals).
Nirmalendu Chowdhury set up Lokabharati, a school for folk music in calcutta. He was associated with pragati lekhak sangha (Progressive Writers' Association) and Bharatiya Gana Natya, a theatre group. He also worked for some time as a reader in the Music Department at Rabindra Bharati University. He was awarded Padmabhushan by the Indian government for his contribution to folk music. He died in Calcutta on 18 April 1981.