Astrud Gilberto, Acclaimed Bossa Nova Vocalist, Passes Away at the Age of 83

Astrud Gilberto, whose dreamy rendition of The Girl from Ipanema became the song’s most popular version, d!ed at 83.

Gilberto collaborator Paul Ricci confirmed the news on social media, noting that Gilberto’s son Marcelo had urged him to do so. “She was an important part of ALL that is Brazilian music in the world, and she changed many lives with her energy,” he continued.

Astrud Weinert married musician Joo Gilberto in 1959 after being born in the Brazilian state of Bahia in 1940 and raised in Rio de Janeiro.

She joined him in New York in 1963, where he recorded with jazz artist Stan Getz and fellow Brazilian bossa nova star Antônio Carlos Jobim.

Astrud Gilberto, Acclaimed Bossa Nova Vocalist, Passes Away at the Age of 83

The session’s producer sought an English-language vocalist to assist The Girl from Ipanema bridge over to a US audience. Astrud was the only one who could speak it.

The original version was a duet with her husband; Astrud was not recognized on the album, was not paid royalties, and received only a tiny session musician’s fee.

However, after being re-edited as a solo single sans Joo’s Portuguese-language vocals, The Girl from Ipanema became a massive hit in 1964, reaching the US Top 5 and the UK Top 30. It won the Grammy for Song of the Year, and a female nominated Gilberto for best vocal performance.

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That year, she and Joo split, and she toured the United States with Getz and his band, an event she later characterized as “very difficult times… being in the midst of a separation and dealing with the responsibilities of being a single mother and a brand-new demanding career.”

The Girl from Ipanema was her only major hit (though it crept back into the UK chart in 1984 as bossa nova flourished again, popularized by Everything But the Girl, Sade, and others).

Still, she maintained a fandom for a series of subsequent solo albums on the jazz label Verve, beginning with 1965’s The Astrud Gilberto Album. She also recorded with Chet Baker and toured till 2002. The Latin Grammys honored her with a lifetime achievement award in 2008.

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