Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The girl from Minneapolis nails the bossa nova

  • Print

Tall and tanned and young and lovely

the girl from Ipanema goes walking

and when she passes

each man she passes

goes Aaah!

Well, it has been 50 years since that Brazilian miss from Ipanema caught the attention of Antonio Carlos (Tom) Jobim and Vinicius DeMoraes as she passed them on her way to the beach in Rio di Janeiro.

When she moves it's like a samba

that swings so cool and sways so gently

that when she passes

each man she passes

goes Aaah!

Despite her moving like a samba, the girl ushered in a new form of music, the bossa nova (or new trend), when Jobim on piano and Joao Gilberto on guitar performed their song for the first time in public in a Rio nightclub in August 1962.

The bossa nova sound made it to North America that same year, but it took another two before The Girl landed on U.S. shores.

Saxophonist Stan Getz and guitarist Charlie Byrd's 1962 instrumental album Jazz Samba made Brazil's bossa accessible to American listeners, and U.S. jazz greats such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald jumped on the bandwagon.

When The Girl arrived, it was with English lyrics composed by American Norman Gimbel and sung by Astrud Gilberto, the then-wife of guitarist Joao, on her first professional job. And what a job. The Girl has been sung and recorded by stylists as diverse as Frank Sinatra and Amy Winehouse, making it the second-most-recorded song in the world after the Beatles' Yesterday, but Gilberto's breathy version remains the benchmark.

The All Music Guide's online biography of Astrud Gilberto, explains that "producer Creed Taylor wanted a few English vocals for maximum crossover potential, and as it turned out, Astrud was the only Brazilian present with any grasp of the language. After her husband laid down his Portuguese vocals for the first verse... Astrud provided a hesitant, heavily accented second verse in English."

AMG's website lists 1,363 versions of the tune, vocal and instrumental, by the likes of Nat (King) Cole, Herb Alpert, Charles Mingus, Kenny G, Peggy Lee, Vic Damone, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Cher, Eliane Elias, Toots Thielemans, Archie Shepp, King Curtis, Henry Mancini, John Coltrane, Carol Welsman and Oscar Peterson.

As well as The Girl, Gimbel wrote lyrics for other Jobim tunes, such as How Insensitive, Agua de Beber (Water to Drink), Meditation and Adventure.

Those songs all appear on a new recording by Minneapolis singer Connie Evingson, Sweet Happy Life, an album of 16 tunes featuring lyrics by Grammy and Oscar winner Gimbel. His English lyrics for Adventure, written to a little-known ballad by Jobim, Ohla Maria, get their debut on Evingson's disc.

Evingson sings the songs with a mellow swing, and has an intimate knowledge of The Girl that allows her to give the song a nuanced reading, one that nails the emotion of the lovestruck composer. How Insensitive takes a melancholy turn amid some hip-swinging samba and bossa.

Even though Gimbel had success composing lyrics for music by the likes of Jobim and Luis Bonfa (the title song here), he also scored big in 1973 with Roberta Flack's recording of Killing Me Softly With His Song (music by Charles Fox), which won him a Song of the Year Grammy. Evingson sings a pensive reinterpretation of Killing Me on Sweet Happy Life.

Gimbel's later career included composing for film and television, but his English lyrics for The Girl can be considered a career high, winning him a Record of the Year Grammy.

Not to take anything away from composers Jobim and DeMoraes, or Astrud Gilberto's singing, it isn't a stretch to suggest that Gimbel deserves his share of credit for helping The Girl From Ipanema spread from Brazil and become a five-decade global success.

For her part, singer Evingson is helping that success continue.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 30, 2012 D3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Total Body Tune-Up:- Shoulder Press

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose cools off Thursday in water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A gaggle of Canada geese goslings at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg Monday- See Project Honk Day 05- May 07, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google