Bossa nova pioneer Joao Gilberto is dead

He put the genre on world music map

Joao Gilberto, the legendary Brazilian musician and songwriter who pioneered the lilting, melodious music known as bossa nova, has died.

The legend was 88. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Mr. Gilberto, a small-town boy from Bahia State whose soft voice singing of The Girl From Ipanema in the 1960s made him world famous, was living alone in a borrowed house in Rio de Janeiro at the end, deeply in debt.

He fell in love with music when he got his first guitar at the age of 14. After leaving his village, he made it onto local radio in Salvador de Bahia, and at age 19, arrived in Rio.

In 1957, he made a name for himself as guitarist on a recording by Elizeth Cardoso, Cancao do Amor Demais, considered the first bossa nova album. Later, known both for his smooth voice and his guitar style, Mr. Gilberto brought the sounds of bossa nova — meaning “new trend” or “new wave” — to jazz festivals and concert halls around the world, putting Brazilian music on the map.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 1:20:26 PM |

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