Astrud Gilberto, whose soft, wan vocal performance on “The Girl From Ipanema,” the first song she ever recorded, helped make the sway of Brazilian bossa nova a hit sound in the United States in the 1960s, died on Monday. She was 83.
Paul Ricci, a musician and a family friend, announced on Facebook that Gilberto’s son Marcelo said she had died and “asked for this to be posted.” He provided no further details.
Gilberto enjoyed a four-decade recording career, recording albums with celebrated musicians like James Last and Gil Evans as well as working with George Michael, Chet Baker and others. But her biggest success came with “The Girl From Ipanema,” written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfa, with English lyrics by Norman Gimbel.
When Gilberto recorded that song, she was married to João Gilberto, the Brazilian singer and guitarist often referred to as the father of the bossa nova. In 1963, the two of them traveled from Rio de Janeiro to New York City, where he was set to record a joint album with jazz saxophonist Stan Getz, who, the year before, had begun recording albums that incorporated samba and bossa nova.
Exactly who had the idea to involve Gilberto, an untested singer, on the album, later released as titled “Getz/Gilberto,” is unclear. Some credit its producer, Creed Taylor; others credit Astrud Gilberto. The singer herself credited her husband.
“While rehearsing with Stan in the song ‘The Girl From Ipanema,’ Joao casually asked me to join in and sing a chorus in English after he had just sung the first chorus in Portuguese,” Gilberto said in a 2002 interview for her official website. “Stan was very receptive. I’ll never forget that while we were listening back to the just recorded version, Stan said to me, ‘This song is going to make you famous.’”
The New York Times News Service