Oh Astrud...! Her naive lilting voice has served as the gateway drug for so many intense jazz addictions. The kind that commence around the third year of college over cheap bottles of wine, and alternating pulls between the bong and the pack of Camel Lights. Somewhere, late at night, between Led Zeppelin II and Kind of Blue comes Getz/Gilberto or Beach Samba. At that moment the only thing that holds you steady in the smoky darkness are the many colorful mosaic glow candles and the voice of Astrud Gilberto.
Born in Bahia and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Astrud Weinert married musician João Gilberto, the "Father of Bossa Nova", in 1959. In 1964, his shy young wife was unexpectedly prompted to sing "The Girl from Ipanema" during a recoring of the seminal Bossa Nova album, Getz/Gilberto, an album which featured not only the Gilbertos, but also Antonio Carlos Jobim and Stan Getz. This airy single went on to become an internation hit, reaching #5 in the United States and charting highly throughout the world. This song, as well as her version of "Corcovado" on the same album made Astrud Gilberto a household name and launched her career as a vocalist.
Astrud Gilberto and husband João Gilberto.
Singing with Stan Getz (left) in the mid-1960s.
During her early days as a star, Astrud Gilberto had a very wholesome, coiffed look. Her simple shyness seems to come through in the smooth, sweet hairstyles of bouffants and flips. After the Gilbertos emigrated to the United States, the couple became estranged; while the reasons are unclear, it is believed to be due to João Gilberto's increasing drug use and Astrud Gilberto's romantic affair with musician Stan Getz.
After the Gilbertos divorced and her own career began to grow, Astrud Gilberto's sweet style gave way to a sensual sexiness in her style and imagery. The well-coiffed 'dos became windblown, beachy, and adorably unkempt - a look that was perfectly in tune with the late-1960s hippie vibe.
The image that became the cover for Astrud Gilberto's Beach Samba album.
The Girl from Ipanema: Sexified
Astrud Gilberto continues to write, record, and perform music today. She lives in the United States, choosing a very private, reclusive life out of the media glare, and never gives interviews. But her fans are legion and continue to grow. Long live the Girl from Ipanema!