Brazilian samba and bossa nova singer Astrud Gilberto dies aged 83

Singer Astrud Gilberto has died aged 83. She found fame in the 1960s with the iconic song The Girl from Ipanema.

Growing up in a musical family, Astrud Weinert was exposed to the rich musical traditions of Brazil from an early age. Her father was German, while her mother was Brazilian. She was raised in Rio de Janeiro where her father worked as a language professor, and she too showed a flair for learning many different tongues.

She wed musician João Gilberto in 1959, he was known as the father of bossa nova music. In 1963 she sang two tracks on the album Getz / Gilberto, a collaboration between her husband and American jazz saxophone player Stan Getz.

It featured many songs written by composer Antônio Carlos Jobim including the two featuring Astrud’s vocals The Girl from Ipanema and Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars).

It would become one of the most acclaimed jazz recordings of the 1960s winning the 1965 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, while The Girl from Ipanema was named Record of the Year. Astrud was reportedly only ever paid a standard session fee of $120 for her work on the record.

Astrud divorced João Gilberto in the mid-1960s and later was in a relationship with his former collaborator Getz. She appeared in several films including Get Yourself a College Girl and The Hanged Man. In 1965 she released her first solo album which saw her singing jazz standards and bossa nova numbers. The Astrud Gilberto Album has been cited as one of the all time greatest albums by a female singer.

Her career saw her record in many different languages including Portugese, Spanish, English, French, Italian, German and Japanese. All up she made 15 albums of music, mostly on the influential Verve jazz label, and she collaborated with jazz greats including Stanley Turrentine and Chet Baker.

Gilberto received the Latin Jazz USA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992 and was inducted in the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2002.

In 1996 she showed her support for HIV research when she contributed to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Rio. Astrud teamed up with George Michael to perform the song Desafinado. 

She never officially retired, but announced she was taking indefinite time off from live performances in 2002. Her music continued to find success. She was sampled by The Black Eyed Peas and Cut Chemist, and her tracks often appear in film soundtracks.   

No cause of death has been announced. Paul Ricci, a collaborator with Gilberto, confirmed the news on social media, writing that he had been asked to announce it 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 said.

OIP Staff

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