Astrud Gilberto vs. the patriarchy of Bossa Nova

"The Girl from Ipanema" is the second most recorded song in the history of recorded songs, next to "Summertime" by George Gerwin. Then 22-year-old Astrud Gilberto made the song (about the male gaze of an underage girl), and Bossa Nova, galactically famous on the album Getz/Gilberto recorded in March of 1963 and released in 1964. With much of the music written by Antônio Carlos Jobim, Gilberto's song performance was impromptu and suggested by Astrud herself in the studio.

The guitarist João Gilberto was Astrud's husband, and her participation in this song and "Corcovado" made the single and the album a worldwide wonder. Yet, as you might imagine from the headline, the men in this scenario—particularly Stan Getz—took credit for Astrud Gilberto's vocal performance and her transformation of the song.

Enter the journalists.

"Without the 22-year-old's voice, 'The Girl From Ipanema' would not have become the phenomenon it did – but mistreatment, misogyny and lack of compensation wore her down," writes Martin Chilton in The Independent.

"In a 1964 interview Getz gave to jazz writer Les Tompkins, for the UK magazine Jazz Professional, he claimed he knew that Gilberto's "innocent and demure" voice would be a sensation, adding: "She was just a housewife then, and I put her on that record because I wanted 'The Girl from Ipanema' sung in English – which João couldn't do. 'Ipanema' was a hit and that was a lucky break for her."

Getz's bragging, and condescending "housewife" remark, rankled with the singer. 'The funny thing is that after my success, stories abound as to Stan Getz or Creed Taylor having 'discovered me,' when in fact, nothing is further from the truth," she said in 1982, quoted on her website. 'I guess it made them look important to have been the one that had the 'wisdom' to recognise potential in my singing. I suppose I should feel flattered by the importance that they lend to this, but I can't help but feel annoyed that they resorted to lying.' Her version is backed by her son Marcelo, who told The Independent in an email interview from his home in America: "My father João used to be adamant about the lies talked about her discovery."

This article is eye-opening, inspiring, and sad for what it reveals about musical history, dedication and thriving, as well as Astrud Gilberto current life circumstances.

For a contemporary take on breathy Bossa Nova, check out "Remedy" by Ella and the Bossa Beat.