Father of 'Bossa Nova' Has Left Us

Joao Gilberto died Saturday in Brazil
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2019 5:10 PM CDT

One of the fathers of bossa nova is gone. Brazilian guitarist and songwriter Joao Gilberto died Saturday at home in Rio de Janeiro after struggling with health problems, the BBC reports. He was 88. "His fight was noble, he tried to maintain dignity," his son Marcelo posted on Facebook. Born in 1931, Gilberto started singing at 18 and released three records as bossa nova, a combination of jazz and samba, blossomed in the late 1950s and grabbed the world's attention in the 1960s. Those records—Chega de Saudade; El Amor, La Sonrisa y La Flor; and Joao Gilberto—gained an international following, per the AP.

"It was Joao Gilberto, the greatest genius of Brazilian music, who was the definitive influence on my music," wrote singer Gal Costa on social media. Gilberto also won multiple Grammy awards, including Album of the Year, for the classic record Getz/Gilberto with American sax player Stan Getz—another big boost for the bossa nova style. His recordings of songs like "The Girl From Ipanema" and "Quiet Nights" became international hits as his music captured a a time of optimism in Brazil. He spent the last 10 years by himself in Rio, the BBC says, dealing with financial and mental-health issues. "He was the principal voice of the best known Brazilian style in the world and a revolutionary without even really meaning to be," says a music journalist. (In related news, the Monkees' bass player died earlier this year.)

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