Astrud Gilberto, the singer of The Girl From Ipanema, has died aged 83. News of Gilberto's death was confirmed by her son Marcelo to The Independent. Gilberto died on June 5. However, the cause of her death was not disclosed.
Paul Ricci, a collaborator with Gilberto, also confirmed the news on social media, writing that he had been asked to announce the news by Gilberto's son Marcelo. "She was an important part of ALL that is Brazilian music in the world and she changed many lives with her energy," he added. The Girl From Ipanema was written in 1962 by Portuguese poet Vinicius de Moraes and composer Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Death of an Accidental Star
The song didn't become famous internationally or rank among the most recorded songs until American Norman Gimbel's English words were added to it in 1964.
Gilberto sang the English lyrics on the 1963 album Getz/Gilberto as her first paid performance. Over the course of her career, she recorded 16 studio albums.
Gilberto, who was born Astrud Evangelina Weinert on March 29, 1940, in Salvador, Bahia, came from a musical family but never intended to make a livelihood as a singer.
She accidentally sang on The Girl from Ipanema.
The song was originally sung in English by Brazilian guitarist Joo Gilberto and American saxophonist Stan Getz. It was inspired by Jobim and de Moraes's desire for Helosa Pinheiro, a Rio resident who frequently strolled past the Veloso Bar.
Gilberto offered to sing the English version of the song after going to the studio to watch her husband Joo at work.
"Astrud was in the control room when Norm came in with the English lyrics. Producer Creed Taylor said he wanted to get the song done right away and looked around the room," A&R engineer Phil Ramone recalled to JazzWax in 2010.
"Astrud volunteered, saying she could sing in English. Creed said, 'Great.' Astrud wasn't a professional singer, but she was the only victim sitting there that night."
The song went on to sell more than five million copies globally, and bossa nova music soon gained popularity all over the world. Gilberto was nominated for Best Vocal Performance, and the song won a Grammy for Song of the Year.
Although she received immense praise for the song, Gilberto received only $120 in session fees for her work on The Girl from Ipanema.
Tributes Pour In
Tributes started pouring in from all corners, the moment news of Gilberto's death broke. "My grandma Astrud Gilberto made this song for me, it's called 'Linda Sofia'. She even wanted my name to be Linda Sofia!" wrote Gilberto's granddaughter Sofia, also a musician, on Instagram.
She continued: "Life is beautiful, as the song says, but I'm here to bring you the sad news that my grandmother became a star today, and is next to my grandfather João Gilberto.
"Astrud was the true girl who took bossa nova from Ipanema to the world. She was a pioneer and the best. At the age of 22, she gave voice to the English version of 'Girl from Ipanema' and gained international fame.
"The song, a bossa nova anthem, became the second most played in the world mainly because of her. I love and will love Astrud forever and she was the face and voice of bossa nova in most parts of the planet. Astrud will forever be in our hearts, and right now we have to celebrate Astrud."
Gilberto and Joo welcomed their only child, son Marcelo before they divorced in the mid-1960s. Joo died in 2019 aged 88.
She has a second son Gregory Lasorsa, from her second marriage, and both of her boys have played in their mother's band over the years.
Astrud immigrated to the US in 1963 shortly after achieving fame with The Girl
Her debut solo album The Astrud Gilberto Album, was released in 1965 not long after she moved to the United States. Throughout the 1970s, she continued to record solo works in a variety of languages, including Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Japanese.
Gilberto also appeared in films like The Hanged Man and Get Yourself a College Girl in 1964.