Astrud Gilberto, the singer that recorded & performed the English language version of “The Girl from Ipanema” song is dead.
Astrud Gilberto made the song into a global sensation with her breathy vocals. Her death on Monday night was confirmed by her son, bassist Marcelo Gilberto.
Though there are many varying accounts of who told Gilberto to perform sing the English version of “The Girl from Ipanema”, the singer herself says it was her husband — the bossa nova icon João Gilberto, at a recording session in New York with jazz great Stan Getz for an album called Getz/Gilberto that suggested it.
It was said that Astrud Gilberto spoke the best English in the room that day.
Getz took credit for her work and paid her $120 for the session and reportedly joked that she was just a housewife who got a break. Astrud Gilberto would later go ahead to record a solo version of the song and that was the start of her career.
“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 Girl From Ipanema” saw both Gilberto and Brazil’s bossa nova music into the American music scene. Getz/Gilberto won four Grammys, including Record of the Year for its breakout song.
After she and her husband divorced, Gilberto embarked on a solo career, recording dozens of albums and collaborating with the likes of Quincy Jones and Chet Baker. In 2008, the Latin Recording Academy honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
However, while Astrud Gilberto was celebrated in the United States, journalist and bossa nova historian Ruy Castro said “Brazil was cruel to her and didn’t accept her success”. Speaking through an interpreter, he added that she never looked back, and made her life and career in the U.S.