The girl from Ipanema is no more

The girl from Ipanema is no more


norman lebrecht

June 06, 2023

The family has announced the death of Astrud Gilberto, whose woozy recording of The Girl from Ipanema put Brazilian music among the world’s best-sellers. Astrud, who was 83, never received a cent in royalties from that release.

She was only in studio in New York to provide an English track for her husband, Joao Gilberto, whom she divorced soon after.

She went on to rerecord the track with Stan Getz and his band.

Blame it on the bossa nova.


  • Gary Freer says:

    less is more! How cool, how lovely this was

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Ethereal… and lovely.

  • PaulD says:

    The song that makes you want to pour yourself a tall mixed-drink and relax.

  • Barry Michael Okun says:

    Not that it matters much, but for the sake of journalism, the above account of Astrid Gilberto’s recording of “Girl from Ipanema” is incorrect.

    Astrid — a non-singer who had never performed before — was in the studio to be with her then-husband João, who was recording an album in New York for an American label with Stan Getz. When they did “Girl from Ipanema”, the producer decided they needed an English vocal following João’s Portuguese one, so that American listeners would know what the song was about. Since Astrid was the only Brazilian in the studio semi-fluent in English, she was recruited to sing the English verses — even though she had never sung before.

    That version, with João singing some verses in Portuguese followed by Astrid singing them in English, appeared on Stan Getz’s classic “Getz/Gilberto” album.

    The Getz recording was then edited, for release as a single, to eliminate João’s Portuguese verses, leaving only Astrid’s English ones. That’s the version that became a smash hit. It wasn’t rerecorded (and certainly not rerecorded without Stan Getz — who in fact was the artist primarily credited on the single’s label). It was only edited.

    • Larry says:

      This does matter. Thank you for clarifying.

    • Robert Holmén says:

      She was not a non-singer and had sung in public before.

      Wiki: “While it was her first professional recording, Astrud wasn’t a complete novice. She grew up steeped in music (her mother Evangelina Neves Lobo Weinert played multiple instruments) and sang regularly with her husband in Brazil, including in a concert at the Faculdade de Arquitetura, part of one of Rio de Janeiro’s top universities.”

    • Former Church Musician says:

      So one’s perceived circumstances dictate whether or not they are fairly compensated for their work if at all? Sounds about right.

    • Jobim75 says:

      Funny thing is that this editing put Astrud and Getz in full light, (they will have a love story) and Joao in semi shadow…. She will be mainstream for some time, although a Brazilian friend told me she wasn’t loved much in 60- 80 in Brazil ( most of her short career was international), when Joao had his fans in Brazil, then abroad. He had a much longer career and is a more proéminent artist of course. Interesting and difficult man, difficult to love on a personal side. His end was really sad, old and demented , he couldn’t really find a proper home and good care. I happened to be in Brazil when he died and was very surprised he was given a minute of silence before a game of soccer national team. No need to say Neymar wasn’t crying much… but i was happy about this tribute, he btought a new style of music even there was some attempt before ( from the french Henri Salvador for example)….music and soccer in Brazil are what makes life bearable for lots of people.Now they’re both gone, probably not hanging in the same area of the sky…

  • Henry williams says:

    I saw getz a few times i found his tone very thin.
    Zoot Sims and Al Cohn were more like the late great
    Lester Young.

  • Phillip says:

    She was a fantastic singer. A loss for sure.

    She and Stan Getz (and Gary Burton) also contributed that song to the film: Get Yourself a College Girl. The movie came out right at the time of the Beatles and included many early 60’s British groups.

    The Girl From Ipanema segment is wonderful and is a nod to music videos to come. It is worth a watch and a listen.

  • Bob Dawson says:

    Years ago, I pointed out to my team that only a top notch singer could intentionally sing a few notes slightly flat—to add drama to the sad lyrics. Astrid was amazing—she internalized the lyrics and the sound appeared. Thanks bd in nyc

  • Kyle A Wiedmeyer says:

    It’s funny how many times I’ve seen Mrs. Gilberto referred to as “The Girl from Ipanema”, because there is an actual woman (at the time it was written, a girl) whom the song is about, a former model named Heloisa Pinheiro. She’s still very much alive!

  • Dave says:

    My favorite song in that time. No idea how inexperienced the singer was. Beautiful images.

  • Jobim75 says:

    Que saudade!!! Karajan brought me to classical music with his hair and close eyes, i went completely for it when I was 14, there wasn’t any in my family or background. Astrud Gilberto brought me to bossa nova and Brazilian music. There was even less around me. Bossa is like classical of Brazilian music. She was mostly an interpreter, hardly a pro, just a natural….i was amazed by simple evidence of the voice, completely taken by bossa rythm, like slow samba .
    Of course i discovered Joao later, Tom Jobim, Nara Leao, Elis Regina , Paulinho da viola, and others and i forgot Astrud a bit. I went to Bebels show in NY blue note and enjoyed.That’s unfair for Astrud because i couldn’t live a happy life without bossa,samba , MPB as i couldn’t live without classical. Thank you Astrud, thank you Herbie!! You opened important doors for me and thousands of people… your soft voice is in my heart.