Astrud Gilberto, the Brazilian singer, has died at the age of 83.
Musician Paul Ricci, a family friend, confirmed that she died Monday. He did not provide additional details.
Gilberto became a global star after she made an English cameo in the hit bossa nova song, “The Girl from Ipanema,” in 1964.
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Gilberto was born in Salvador of Bahia, Brazil, and raised in Rio de Janeiro. She became an overnight, unexpected superstar in 1964, thanks to knowing just enough English to be recruited by the makers of “Getz/Gilberto,” the classic bossa nova album featuring saxophonist Stan Getz and her then-husband, singer-songwriter-guitarist Joao Gilberto.
The original song was written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, but producers believed the song could reach a bigger audience with Portuguese and English lyrics.
Gilberto recalled how the song came to be in an interview shared to her website in 2002.
“I begged [my husband] to tell me what it was, but he adamantly refused, and would just say: ‘Wait and see …’ Later on, while rehearsing with Stan, as they were in the midst of going over the song ‘The Girl from Ipanema,’ Joao casually asked me to join in, and sing a chorus in English, after he had just sung the first chorus in Portuguese. So, I did just that,” she explained.
“When we were finished performing the song, Joao turned to Stan, and said something like: ‘Tomorrow Astrud sing on record… What do you think?’ Stan was very receptive, in fact very enthusiastic; he said it was a great idea. The rest, of course, as one would say, ‘is history.’”
“Getz/Gilberto” sold more than 2 million copies and “The Girl from Ipanema,” released as a single with Astrud Gilberto as the only vocalist, became an all-time standard, often ranked just behind “Yesterday” as the most covered song in modern times.
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“The Girl from Impanema” won record of the year at the 1965 Grammys. The hit song was also nominated for best new artist and best vocal performance.
Despite speculation, Gilberto was not the inspiration for the song. Instead, the songwriter eventually revealed the lyrics were written about a Brazilian teenager, Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto.
After her success with “The Girl from Impanema,” Gilberto toured and eventually released seven additional albums. She retired in 2002 and dedicated her time to animal rights activism and a career in the visual arts.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.