Astrud Gilberto, the singer of 'The Girl from Ipanema,' has died at the age of 83.

Astrud Gilberto, the singer of ‘The Girl from Ipanema,’ has died at the age of 83.

The vocalist of one of the most popular songs in history has died.

Astrud Gilberto’s breathy voice helped make the breezy and seductive “The Girl From Ipanema” a worldwide success. Her son, bassist Marcelo Gilberto, announced her death on Monday night. She was 83 years old.

There are many versions of who requested Gilberto to sing the song’s breakthrough English-language version. But, according to the lady, it was her husband, bossa nova legend Joo Gilberto, who proposed it in 1963, during a recording session in New York with jazz legend Stan Getz for an album called Getz/Gilberto.

Getz mockingly claimed credit for her contribution and even joked at the time that she was merely a housewife who got lucky. Though she was not acknowledged for her singing debut and apparently only received $120 for the session, she subsequently recorded her own solo version of the song. And, according to her, what happened next surprised her.

“I had fun doing it, and I enjoy being a part of it,” she said on WHYY’s Fresh Air in 1978. “But I never imagined it would become such an important part of my life, or the start of a career, or anything like that.”

“The Girl From Ipanema” launched Gilberto and bossa nova music into the American music scene. Getz/Gilberto received four Grammy nominations, including record of the year for their breakthrough single. Gilberto began a solo career after her divorce from her husband, releasing dozens of albums and working with artists such as Quincy Jones and Chet Baker. The Latin Recording Academy presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

Gilberto was a proponent of the New York jazz scene in the 1960s and 1970s, according to guitarist Paul Ricci, a close friend. “Astrud was the first pop radio voice to sing in that soft, intimate, sensual fashion that engineered everything,” recalls he. Her soulful voice would inspire a slew of other musicians, including Karen Carpenter and Sade.

While Gilberto was a popular in the United States, where she finally settled, writer and bossa nova historian Ruy Castro claims the same was not true in Brazil. “Brazil was cruel to her and didn’t accept her success,” he adds via an interpreter. But, sensibly, she never looked back and established her life and profession in the United States.”These days, both Brazilians and tourists remember her and her song fondly.” Perhaps more so in Rio de Janeiro’s famous Ipanema neighbourhood, where buskers could be heard singing it on Tuesday outside the café where composers Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vincius de Moraes initially composed the song for a specific kid they loved to see stroll by.

Of course, there was melancholy in the air. But, as Gilberto used to remark about the song’s early popularity, people need romance and something lovely to divert them. That is still true 60 years later.

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