‘Bossa Nova Queen’ Astrud Gilberto dies at 83
text size

‘Bossa Nova Queen’ Astrud Gilberto dies at 83

’Girl from Ipanema’ brought a new sound to the world and changed Brazilian singer’s life

Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto performs at a jazz festival on July 16, 1982 in The Hague, Netherlands. The Girl from Ipanema singer died on Monday at the age of 83. (Photo: AFP)
Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto performs at a jazz festival on July 16, 1982 in The Hague, Netherlands. The Girl from Ipanema singer died on Monday at the age of 83. (Photo: AFP)

BRASILIA: Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto, the voice of Bossa Nova whose version of “The Girl from Ipanema” was an international success in the late 1960s, has died at the age of 83, her family said.

Gilberto died on Monday at her home in Philadelphia, her granddaughter Sofia Gilberto said on social media.

“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,” Sofia wrote.

Astrud was married to Brazilian musician Joao Gilberto, the pioneering composer and songwriter of Bossa Nova from the late 1950s, who died in 2019.

He collaborated with the American jazz musician Stan Getz in 1963 on the album Getz/Gilberto that popularised the new Brazilian sound worldwide.

Joao Gilberto’s then-wife 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, the first time a jazz album received the accolade.

Her first solo album was The Astrud Gilberto Album, released in 1965 and featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim.

The singer was born in Salvador, the capital of the northeastern state of Bahia, in 1940 and.

She had little professional music experience when she turned The Girl from Ipanema — written by Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes — into a global smash, singing the English verses alongside Getz.

‘Queen of Bossa Nnova’

The silky-smooth song changed Gilberto’s life, turning it upside down both personally and professionally.

As she told the story, she owed her popularity to an off-the-cuff suggestion by Joao Gilberto while they were recording the song in New York to try singing in English.

“That song is going to make you famous,” Getz told her in the studio.

It was apparently not just her music that wowed the saxophonist — and vice versa.

She ended up leaving her husband for Getz and moving to the United States.

But that turbulent period in her life produced some of the best-loved recordings of all time, including the live album of the three friends’ concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall in October 1964.

Aged just 24, Gilberto suffered from stage fright, which she overcame by taking theater classes at the Stella Adler acting academy.

The pretty young brunette wowed audiences with her satin voice, which she took on tour with Getz. She earned the nickname “The Queen of Bossa Nova”, bringing the syncopated, relaxed Brazilian musical style to the world.

She remained in the US after separating from Getz, continuing her career with hits such as Fly Me to the Moon (1972) and Far Away (1977), and turning to songwriting with the albums Astrud Gilberto Now and That Girl From Ipanema.

After a career touring the world, she retired from the stage in 2001. She was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame the following year.

In 2008, she was awarded a Latin Grammy for lifetime achievement.

Do you like the content of this article?