The honey-toned chanteuse on the surprise Brazilian crossover hit "The Girl From Ipanema," Astrud Gilberto parlayed her previously unscheduled appearance (and professional singing debut) on the song into a lengthy career that resulted in nearly a dozen albums for Verve and a successful performing career that lasted into the '90s. Though her appearance at the studio to record "The Girl From Ipanema" was due only to her husband João, one of the most famed Brazilian artists of the century, Gilberto's singular, quavery tone and undisguised naïveté propelled the song into the charts and influenced a variety of sources in worldwide pop music.
Born in Bahia, Gilberto moved to Rio de Janeiro at an early age. She'd had no professional musical experience of any kind until 1963, the year of her visit to New York with her husband, João Gilberto, in a recording session headed by Stan Getz. Getz had already recorded several albums influenced by Brazilian rhythms, and Verve teamed him with the cream of Brazilian music, Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto, for his next album. Producer Creed Taylor wanted a few English vocals for maximum crossover potential, and as it turned out, Astrud was the only Brazilian present with any grasp of the language. After her husband laid down his Portuguese vocals for the first verse of his and Jobim's composition, "The Girl From Ipanema," Astrud provided a hesitant, heavily accented second verse in English.
Not even credited on the resulting LP, Getz/Gilberto, Astrud finally gained fame over a year later, when "The Girl From Ipanema" became a number five hit in mid-1964. The album became the best-selling jazz album up to that point, and made Gilberto a star across America. Before the end of the year, Verve capitalized on the smash with the release of Getz Au Go Go, featuring a Getz live date with Gilberto's vocals added later. Her first actual solo album, The Astrud Gilberto Album, was released in May 1965. Though it barely missed the Top 40, the LP's blend of Brazilian classics and ballad standards proving quite infectious with easy listening audiences.
Though she never returned to the pop charts in America, Verve proved to be quite understanding for Astrud Gilberto's career, pairing her with ace arranger Gil Evans for 1966's Look to the Rainbow and Brazilian organist/arranger Walter Wanderley for the dreamy A Certain Smile, a Certain Sadness, released later that year. She remained a huge pop star in Brazil for the rest of the 1960s and '70s, but gradually disappeared in America after her final album for Verve in 1969. In 1971, she released a lone album for CTI (with Stanley Turrentine) but was mostly forgotten in the U.S. until 1984, when "Girl From Ipanema" recharted in Britain on the tails of a neo-bossa craze. Gilberto gained worldwide distribution for 1987's Astrud Gilberto Plus the James Last Orchestra and 2002's Jungle.
Astrud Gilberto was born Astrud Weinert, the daughter of a Brazilian mother and a German father, in the state of Bahia, Brazil, and was raised in Rio de Janeiro. In 1959, she married João Gilberto, later emigrating to the United States in 1963. They eventually divorced in the mid-1960s.
She sang on the influential album Getz/Gilberto featuring João Gilberto, Stan Getz, and Antonio Carlos Jobim. She had never performed professionally, and sang on the recordings at the suggestion of her (then) husband, João Gilberto.
Astrud Gilberto's recording of "The Girl from Ipanema" established her as a jazz and pop singer. In 1964, Gilberto appeared in the films Get Yourself a College Girl and The Hanged Man. Her first solo album was The Astrud Gilberto Album (1964). Gilberto began as a singer of bossa nova and American jazz standards, but recorded her own compositions in the 1970s. Her repertoire includes "The Shadow of Your Smile", "It Might As Well Be Spring", "Love Story", "Fly Me To The Moon", "Day By Day", "Here's That Rainy Day", and "Look To The Rainbow". She has recorded songs in Brazilian Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Japanese.
In 1982, Gilberto's son Marcelo joined her group, and toured with her for more than a decade as her group's bassist. In addition to working as a bassist, he collaborated as co-producer of the albums Live in New York (1996) and Temperance (1997). Son Gregory Lasorsa played on the Temperance album, playing the guitar on her song "Beautiful You", which features singer Michael Franks.
Girl From Ipanema