Astrud Gilberto, singer of The Girl From Ipanema, has died at the age of 83

NEW YORK (AP) – Astrud Gilberto, the Brazilian singer-songwriter and entertainer whose impromptu English-language cameo on “The Girl from Ipanema” made her a global bossa nova voice, has died at the age of 83.

Musician Paul Ricci, a family friend, confirmed that she died on Monday. He did not give any further details.

Gilberto was born in Salvador, Bahia and grew up in Rio de Janeiro. In 1964, he became an unexpected overnight superstar, speaking just enough English to be recruited by the creators of Getz/Gilberto, the classic bossa nova album featuring saxophonist Stan Getz and her then-husband, the Singer-songwriter-guitarist Joao Gilberto.

The wistful ballad penned by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, The Girl from Ipanema, has already been a hit in South America. But Getz/Gilberto producer Creed Taylor and others thought they could boost the record’s appeal by including both Portuguese and English-language vocals. In a 2002 interview with friends published on her website, Astrud Gilberto recalled her husband saying he had a surprise in store for her at the recording studio.

“I begged him to tell me what it was, but he adamantly refused, just saying, ‘Wait…’ Later, during rehearsals with Stan, just as they were going through the song ‘The Girl.’ from Ipanema’, Joao casually asked me to join in and sing a chorus in English after he had just sung the first chorus in Portuguese. So that’s exactly what I did,” she explained.

“When we were done performing the song, Joao turned to Stan and said something like, ‘Tomorrow Astrud is singing on the record… What do you think?’ Stan was very open-minded, even very enthusiastic; He said it was a great idea. The rest, of course, is, as one would say, ‘history’.”

Astrud Gilberto sings “The Girl from Ipanema” in a light, emotionless style that influenced Sade and Suzanne Vega, among others, as if she had already turned to other subjects. But her words, translated from Portuguese by Norman Gimbel, would be remembered like few from that era.

Tall and brown and young and pretty

The girl from Ipanema goes for a walk

Everyone she passes says, “Ah”

“Getz/Gilberto” sold more than 2 million copies and “The Girl from Ipanema”, released as a single with Astrud Gilberto as sole vocalist, became the absolute standard, often ranking right behind “Yesterday” as the most covered song in the world classified modern times. “The Girl from Ipanema” won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965, and Gilberto received nominations for Best New Artist and Best Vocal Performance. The poised, dark-haired singer was so closely associated with ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ that some assumed she was the inspiration; de Moraes wrote the lyrics about a Brazilian teenager, Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto.

Over the next few years, Gilberto toured with Getz, among others, and released eight albums (with songs in English and Portuguese), including The Astrud Gilberto Album, Beach Samba, and The Shadow of Your Smile. But after 1969, she only made seven more albums, and in 2002 she practically retired from the business, giving up interviews and dedicating her final years to animal rights activism and a career in the visual arts. She would claim that she was not paid for The Girl From Ipanema and that Taylor and Getz (who would describe her as “just a housewife”) would unduly boast of “discovering” her. She also felt alienated from her home country, claiming she had been dismissively treated by the press and seldom appeared there after becoming a star.

“Isn’t there an old saying that says, ‘No man is a prophet in his own land'”? She said in 2002. “I have no qualms about Brazilians and I really enjoy going to Brazil. Of course I go there as an incognito visitor and not as a performer.”

Astrud Weinert was the youngest of three sisters and came from a family that was both musical and foreign language: her mother was a singer and violinist, her father a linguistics professor. As a teenager, she belonged to a circle of musical friends and had met Joao Gilberto, a rising star in Rio’s burgeoning bossa nova scene.

“After I got together with Joao, the clan got bigger and included ‘older’ guys like Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Morais, Bene Nunes, Luis Bonfa and Joao Donato and of course their respective ‘other halves,'” she recalls. “Joao Gilberto and I used to sing duets, or he would accompany me on the guitar. Friends have always asked me to sing at these gatherings, but also at our homes when they came to visit.”

She was married twice and had two sons, Joao Marcelo Gilberto and Gregory Lasorsa, both of whom would work with her. Remaining a popular live act long past their commercial peak, their vocals grew warmer and jazzier as they sang covers as well as original material. She’s also had some notable moments as a recording artist, whether it was backing trumpeter Chet Baker on “Fly Me to the Moon” or singing with George Michael on the bossa nova standard “Desafinado.” In 2008 she received a Latin Grammy for lifetime achievement.

“Occasionally I’ve been called a ‘hermit’ by a frustrated journalist. The dictionary clearly defines hermit as “a person who withdraws from the world to live in seclusion and often solitude”. Why would anyone assume an artist is a recluse just because he doesn’t give interviews?” she said in 2002.

“I firmly believe that any artist whose work makes it famous – be it music, motion pictures or otherwise – has no moral obligation to satisfy the curiosity of journalists, fans or any other member of the public about their private life, anything else which has no direct relation to her work. My work, whether perceived as good, bad or indifferent, speaks for itself.”

Rick Schindler

Rick Schindler is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Rick Schindler joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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