'Girl from Ipanema' singer Astrud Gilberto dies at 83

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By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) -Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto, the voice of Bossa Nova whose soft and dreamy version of "The Girl from Ipanema" was an international success in the 1960s, has died at the age of 83, her family said.

Gilberto died on Monday at her home in Philadelphia, her granddaughter Sofia Gilberto said on social media.

"Life is beautiful, as the song says, but I bring the sad news that my grandmother became a star today and is next to my grandfather Joao Gilberto," the granddaughter wrote.

Guitarist Joao Gilberto, who died in 2019, was Astrud's former husband and the pioneer composer and songwriter of Bossa Nova, which mixed Brazilian samba music with "cool jazz" in the late 1950s.

He collaborated with U.S. saxophonist Stan Getz in 1963 on the album "Getz/Gilberto" that popularized the new Brazilian sound worldwide.

Astrud performed the vocals in English, including the duet "The Girl from Ipanema" which became the album's major hit. "Getz/Gilberto" won three Grammy Awards including Album of the Year, the first time a jazz album received the accolade.

"The Girl from Ipanema" was the first song the 22-year-old Astrud recorded and launched her career almost by accident. In later interviews, she said she was in the New York studio where Getz and her then-husband were recording and he suggested she do the song as he did not sing in English.

She later moved to the United States, where she toured with Getz, singing Bossa Nova and American jazz standards.

Astrud Weinert was born on March 29, 1940, in Salvador, in the northeastern state of Bahia, to a musical family that moved to Rio de Janeiro when she was a child.

Her first solo album was "The Astrud Gilberto Album," released in 1965 and featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim, the Brazilian musician who had written "The Girl from Ipanema" with poet Vinicius de Moraes and played the piano on the Getz/Gilberto original.

She recorded her own compositions in the 1970s in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Japanese.

American guitarist Steve Van Zandt said in a tweet in tribute that Gilberto's "beautiful, natural, untrained vocal genius and unplanned career" influenced other singers from Sade to Lana Del Rey.

Brazilian performer and songwriter Ivan Lins said: "She was one of the main voices of Bossa Nova, the one that was most heard abroad. It had a unique, mellow timbre."

"The Girl from Ipanema" is one of the most recorded songs in history and has been interpreted by many singers, from Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole to Madonna and Amy Winehouse.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)