Home » Jazz News » Astrud Gilberto (1940-2023)

Obituary News

Astrud Gilberto (1940-2023)


Sign in to view read count
Astrud Gilberto, who as the wife of Brazilian singer Joao Gilberto was urged to record “The Girl From Ipanema" and “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars" in English in March 1963 because he didn't speak the language and whose hit vocals helped send the bossa nova into the pop stratosphere and her into stardom, died on June 5. She was 83.

Astrud Gilberto would go on to record numerous bossa nova and pop albums. Rather than return to Brazil with her husband, she reportedly had an affair with Stan Getz, which led to her divorce and U.S. residency. As a single woman and an unintended sex symbol, she found herself thrust into the public light. Not a natural or trained performer, Gilberto feared the exposure. I recall multiple attempts to gain an interview with her without success. Her most recent interview was conducted decades ago and her hermetic lifestyle as a singer was topped only by Bobby Gentry for an unwillingness to engage the media on her past.

In many respects, Gilberto's life story was both a joyous and a sad one. Joyous for how her unassuming clarinet-like voice inspired generations of female singers such as Sade and Basia, Stacy Kent. Sad in that she hadn't planned to be a stage or recording artist, and that being forced to sing to earn a living, she endured ridicule for her untrained voice and harassment and abuse by men who held power over her.

Here's the only video you really need to watch of Astrud Gilberto, who was most at ease in the Netherlands with Pim Jacobs on piano, Rudd Brink on tenor saxophone, Wim Overgaauw on guitar and Don Un-Romeo on drums in October 1965 on NCRV-TV here.

Here's one of my favorite Gilberto albums, with organist Walter Wanderley, from 1966...

Here's Look to the Rainbow in 1966, arranged by Gil Evans...

Here's her Windy album, from 1968, with arrangements by Don Sebesky, Eumir Diodato and Pat Williams...

And finally, here's Gilberto on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1970 singing a bossa nova medley...

Continue Reading...

This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved.

Post a comment


Jazz News


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.