Bossa Nova pioneer Astrud Gilberto whose rendition of “The Girl from Ipanema” became an international hit in the 1960s passes away at 83

    Astrud Gilberto

    7th June 2023 – (Philadelphia) Astrud Gilberto, the Brazilian singer whose voice became synonymous with Bossa Nova, has passed away at the age of 83, according to her family. Gilberto’s rendition of “The Girl from Ipanema” became an international hit in the 1960s, and she went on to become one of the most influential voices of the genre.

    Gilberto died on Monday at her home in Philadelphia, as announced by her granddaughter Sofia Gilberto on social media. In her post, Sofia wrote, “Life is beautiful, as the song says, but I bring the sad news that my grandmother became a star today and is next to my grandfather Joao Gilberto.”

    Joao Gilberto, who passed away in 2019, was Astrud’s former husband and a pioneer composer and songwriter of Bossa Nova. He collaborated with U.S. saxophonist Stan Getz in 1963 on the album “Getz/Gilberto,” which popularized the new Brazilian sound worldwide. Astrud performed the vocals in English, including the duet “The Girl from Ipanema,” which became the album’s major hit. “Getz/Gilberto” won three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, making it the first jazz album to receive the accolade.

    The Girl from Ipanema” was the first song that Astrud recorded, and it launched her career almost by accident. In later interviews, she said that she was in the New York studio where Getz and her then-husband were recording, and he suggested she sing the song as he did not sing in English. She later moved to the United States, where she toured with Getz, singing Bossa Nova and American jazz standards.

    Astrud Gilberto, born Astrud Evangelina Weinert, was a Brazilian singer who became an icon of Bossa Nova music. She was born in Bahia, Brazil, to a German father and Brazilian mother, and was raised in Rio de Janeiro. Her father was a language professor, and as a result, she became fluent in several languages. Gilberto was married to João Gilberto in 1959 and had a son, João Marcelo Gilberto, who later joined her band. After their divorce, she had another son from a second marriage, Gregory Lasorsa, who also played with her.

    Gilberto’s career took off when she sang on two tracks of the 1963 album “Getz/Gilberto,” which also featured Antônio Carlos Jobim and Stan Getz. Her rendition of “The Girl from Ipanema” became a hit and earned her a Grammy for Song of the Year, as well as a nomination for Best Vocal Performance by a female. The song sold over one million copies and established Astrud Gilberto as a Bossa Nova singer.

    Gilberto’s first solo album, “The Astrud Gilberto Album,” was released in 1965. She went on tour with Getz and began recording her own compositions in the 1970s, singing in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Japanese. She received the Latin Jazz USA Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1992 and was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2002.

    Gilberto’s music influenced other singers, and her “beguiling, whispery voice” played a significant role in popularizing Bossa Nova music. She collaborated with George Michael on the AIDS benefit album “Red Hot + Rio” in 1996 and contributed to the soundtrack of the 2003 film “Down with Love” with her original recording of “Fly Me to the Moon” edited as a duet using a recording of the same song by Frank Sinatra. Her recording of “Once I Loved” was featured in the 2007 film “Juno.”

    In addition to her music career, Gilberto was an advocate of animal rights. She did not officially retire from music but announced in 2002 that she was taking “indefinite time off” from public performances.