Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto, who enchanted millions with her iconic song The Girl from Ipanema, has died aged 83.
This song was the first ever that this singer recorded and it remained her greatest hit which helped her rise to stardom. Even today, The Girl from Ipanema is considered one of the most famous and most influential bossa nova recordings which impacted Brazilian music profoundly.
Almost overnight, Astrud helped create what became known as a new global pop music fashion, introducing sophisticated Brazilian musical style to the people from the States and all around the world.
Over the years, she recorded 16 albums and worked with some of the greatest names in the music industry such as Quincy Jones and George Michael.
The news of the singer’s passing was shared by her granddaughter.
“I’m here to bring you the sad news that my grandmother became a star today, and is next to my grandfather João Gilberto,” wrote Sofia, who is also a musician.
“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.”
Another person close to the late singer, Paul Ricci, a New York based guitarist who collaborated with Astrud, also took to the social media to share the sad news.
“I just got word from her son Marcelo that we have lost Astrud Gilberto,” he wrote. “He asked for this to be posted. “She was an important part of ALL that is Brazilian music in the world and she changed many lives with her energy. RIP from ‘the chief’, as she called me.”
How Astrud came to perform the English version of her iconic song is not certain, but there are different versions surrounding that story. According to Astrud herself, it was her husband, João Gilberto, the Brazilian guitarist called the “father of bossa nova,” who suggested it in 1963, at a recording session in New York with jazz great Stan Getz for an album called Getz/Gilberto. “João casually asked me to join in and sing a chorus in English after he had just sung the first chorus in Portuguese,” she recalled in an interview.
Astrud wasn’t credited for her vocals and only got $120 for the session, but she recorded her solo version after that.
American saxophonist Stan Getz made an estimated million dollars off the track and “made sure that [Astrud] got nothing,” referring to her as to a “housewife.”
“I had fun doing it, and I enjoy being a part of it,” she explained in a 1978 interview with WHYY’s Fresh Air. “But I have never envisioned it as becoming an important thing in my life, or the beginning of a career, or anything like it.”
“The funny thing is that after my success, stories abound as to Stan Getz or Creed Taylor having ‘discovered me’, when in fact, nothing is further from the truth,” she said in 1982. “I guess it made them look important to have been the one that had the ‘wisdom’ to recognise potential in my singing.
“I suppose I should feel flattered by the importance that they lend to this, but I can’t help but feel annoyed that they resorted to lying.”
When the song reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, it became an international hit which brought Astrud the Grammy Award for Song of the Year, and a nomination for Best Vocal Performance by a Female.
None of her other songs ever reached the fame of The Girl from Ipanema, but Astrud did have a very successful career as a singer in her home country.
No further details surrounding her passing have been revealed. May she rest in peace.
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Love and Peace