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Wednesday, June 07, 2023

RIP: Astrid Gilberto, The Girl From Ipanema throws in the towel.

Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto, the undeniable voice of Bossa Nova, whose trademark soft and dreamy rendition of "The Girl from Ipanema" became an international success hit during the 1960s, has died, aged 83 year old.  According to a statement on Social Media poster by members of her whanau, Gilberto died on Monday 6 June at her home in Philadelphia.

"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 Gilberto, her Granddaughter wrote. 

Born on March 29 1940 Astrud Weinert was born in Salvador, in the northeastern state of Bahia, to a musical family that moved to Rio de Janeiro when she was a child.

Astrud's former husband, guitarist Joao Gilberto, passed in 2019.  He was a pioneer composer and songwriter of Bossa Nova, which mixed Brazilian samba music with "cool jazz" in the late 1950s.   He collaborated with the American saxophonist Stan Getz in 1963 on their album "Getz/Gilberto".  That went on popularise the new Brazilian sound worldwide.  Astrud performed the vocals in English, including the song "The Girl from Ipanema", a duet, which was the album's major hit. "Getz/Gilberto" won three Grammys (incl. Album of the Year, the first time a jazz album received the accolade).

"The Girl from Ipanema" was the first song Astrud (22yrs old at the time) recorded.  It launched her career - almost by accident. 

In later interviews, she said she was hanging about in the New York studio where Getz and her then-husband were recording.  Joao Getz suggested she do the song as he did not sing in English.

She later moved to the US, toured with Getz, singing Bossa Nova and American Songbook jazz standards.  

Her first solo album was called "The Astrud Gilberto Album," released in 1965 and featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim, the Brazilian musician who had written "The Girl from Ipanema" with poet Vinicius de Moraes and played the piano on the Getz/Gilberto original.

She recorded her own compositions in the 1970s in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Japanese.

US guitarist Steve Van Zandt tweeted in tribute that Gilberto's "beautiful, natural, untrained vocal genius and unplanned career" influenced other singers from Sade to Lana Del Rey.

Brazilian performer and songwriter Ivan Lins said that "she was one of the main voices of Bossa Nova, the one that was most heard abroad. It had a unique, mellow timbre."

"The Girl from Ipanema" is one of the most recorded songs in history and has been interpreted by many singers, from Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole to Madonna and Amy Winehouse.

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