Astrud Gilberto | ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ singer dies aged 83

Astrud Gilberto, the Brazilian bossa nova singer whose version of ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ became the most popular iteration of the song, has died at the age of 83.

astrud gilberto

Gilberto was one of Brazil’s biggest stars during the 1960s and 70s. She recorded 16 albums, but is best known for singing the ‘The Girl From Ipanema’, with her English-language version helping popularise bossa nova around the world. 

The news was confirmed by the singer’s granddaughter on Instagram.

“I’m here to bring you the sad news that my grandmother became a star today, and is next to my grandfather João Gilberto,” Sofia wrote. 

“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.”

Born in 1940 in the Brazilian state of Bahia, Astrud Weinert was primarily raised in Rio de Janeiro. She married musician João Gilberto in 1959, and four years later accompanied him on a trip to New York. There, João recorded ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ with jazz artist Stan Getz and fellow Brazilian bossa nova star, Antônio Carlos Jobim. 

The producer wanted an English-language singer as well, however, to help the song appeal to English speaking audiences. Astrud, who had never previously recorded, was the only person who could speak English.

At first, the song was a duet between the married couple, with Astrud not even credited and cut out of the royalties. It was later re-edited, with João’s vocals cut out, and released as a solo single. 

This version became a huge hit in 1964 and reached the top five in the American charts, while also cracking the UK Top 30. It also won the Grammy award for song of the year with Astrud nominated for best female vocal performance. 

astrud gilberto

(Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

João and Astrud divorced the same year, and the latter toured the US with Getz and his band. She would later describe it as “very difficult times … being in the midst of a separation and dealing with the responsibilities of being a single mother and a brand-new demanding career”.

The Girl from Ipanema would be her only major hit, though its popularity was long-lasting. It was covered by some of the biggest names in music since, with Frank Sinatra delivering a famous rendition, and Amy Winehouse, Madonna and Nat King Cole all also offering covers.

In 2008, Gilberto was given a lifetime achievement award by the Latin Grammys.

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