Bossa Nova Star Astrud Gilberto Dead At 83
Astrud Gilberto, the Brazilian singer whose version of “The Girl From Ipanema” helped popularize bossa nova around the world, has died. The Guardian reports that Gilberto’s collaborator Paul Ricci announced her passing on social media. No cause of death has been reported. Gilberto was 83.
Astrud Gilberto, the daughter of a German father and a Brazilian mother, was born Astrud Evangelina Weinert in Bahia. She was mostly raised in Rio de Janeiro, and she married the bossa nova pioneer João Gilberto in 1959, when she was 19. Astrud and João only stayed together for a few years, but she kept his name for the rest of her life.
In 1963, João Gilberto went to New York to record the album Getz/Gilbert with the jazz artist Stan Getz, and Astrud came along. Producer Creed Taylor wanted to record a version of the Brazilian song “Garota De Ipanema” in English, and Astrud, whose father was a language professor, was the only Brazilian at the session who spoke English. Astrud had never recorded anything before she laid down her version of “The Girl From Ipanema,” but her dreamy and casual take on the song became a huge international hit, peaking at #5 in the US and winning the Grammy for Song Of The Year.
Astrud Gilberto was reportedly paid nothing for recording “The Girl In Ipanema,” but the song’s success led her to roles in movies like Don Siegel’s The Hanged Man, and she released her debut LP The Astrud Gilberto Album in 1965. Around that time, Astrud divorced João and moved to the US. She toured with Stan Getz, and she continued to record over the decades. In 1996, Gilberto and George Michael duetted on the Brazilian song “Desafinado” for the benefit compilation Red Hot + Rio. She retired in 2002.
Below, listen to some of Astrud Gilberto’s music.