Astrud Gilberto - Biography

Contrary to popular belief, Astrud Gilberto is not “The Girl from Ipanema.” She’s actually from Bahia, although she did grow up in Rio de Janeiro. Initially, she did not set out to become a famous singer and the song that made her famous was recorded as an afterthought during the sessions for 1964’s Getz/Gilberto (Verve). Her gentle, whispered, extremely sexy vocals were perfect for the bossa nova and she soon became one of bossa’s great stylists. She retired from touring in 2001 to concentrate on her painting, but continued recording and writing songs.


Astrud Weinert was born in 1940 and acquired her famous last name when she married bossa nova legend João Gilberto in 1959. João Gilberto, Antonio Carlos “Tom” Jobim, and Vinícius de Moraes helped create the bossa nova, a style of “modern samba” in the late 1950s. In 1962, João wrote “Garota de Ipanema (Girl from Ipanema),” with de Moraes after seeing Heloísa "Helô" Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto pass by the bar they frequented on the Rio beachside. After Astrud and João moved to New York in 1963, João was asked to make an album with jazz sax player Stan Getz, who wanted to explore the new (to American ears) bossa sound. During the sessions with Getz, producer Creed Taylor suggested adding English lyrics to “Garota de Ipanema.” Norman Gimbel wrote the English lyric and Astrud, who knew how to speak English, sang it, although she had never sung professionally before. Released as a single, “The Girl from Ipanema” shot up the charts and went gold as did Getz/Gilberto. The next year, the song won Gilberto and Getz a Grammy for Record of the Year.


After Getz Au Go Go (Verve) — a 1964 live set that features her vocals on several tracks — did impressive business, Astrud was signed by Verve and released The Astrud Gilberto Album (Verve) and The Shadow of Your Smile (Verve) in 1965. She followed up with A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness (Verve) with Walter Wanderley’s trio and Look to the Rainbow (Verve) in 1966, and Beach Samba (Verve) in 1967. Her solo albums were just as classy and understated as her work with Getz, and almost as successful with record buyers. Astrud and João divorced in 1965 and she became involved with Getz.


Astrud Gilberto toured sporadically, but continued to record into the ‘70s. 1968’s Windy (Verve) balances light pop tunes and bossa. 1969’s I Haven’t Anything Better to Do (Verve) is a late night, melancholy collection of pop standards. Astrud Gilberto with Stanley Turrentine (CTI), released in 1971, shows off her jazzy side. 1972’s Astrud Gilberto Now (Perception) includes some of her first songwriting efforts and is more Brazilian than many of her American albums. 1977’s That Girl From Ipanema (Image) features a duet with Chet Baker on the song “Far Away.” That track, she often said in interviews, was her favorite moment in the recording studio.


In the early 1980s, Gilberto’s son Marcelo created a sextet and together they toured North America, Europe, and Japan. Since the late ‘70s, Gilberto has recorded infrequently, but when she does the results are always special. 1987’s Astrud Gilberto Plus the James Last Orchestra (PolyGram) pairs her with the German bandleader and arranger for one of her best albums and includes her own songs "Champagne and Caviar" and "Amor E Som." So & So: Mukai Meets Gilberto (Columbia) is an outing with Japanese jazz trombonist Shigeharu Mukai released in 1990. 1996’s Live In New York (Pony Canyon Japan) is a low-key greatest hits concert from 1989. In 1997, she released Temperance (Pony Canyon Japan), which includes more of Gilberto’s original songs backed by Marcelo’s sextet. 2002’s Jungle (Magya) shows her still in good voice on a collection of her own songs in arrangements that include pop, jazz, samba, bossa, and even Hip-Hop. In 1996, Gilberto recorded the song “Desafinado” with George Michael for the AIDS benefit album Red Hot & Rio (Verve).


In 1992, Gilberto received a Latin Jazz USA Award for Lifetime Achievement. She was inducted into to the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2002 and The Latin Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2008, she received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.








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