The definitive bossa nova and Brazilian ballad singer, João Gilberto has always had a quiet but very effective voice. Born in 1931, he began playing guitar when he was 14, leading his first band a year later. At 18, Gilberto began working on radio but, although he made his first records as early as 1951, it was not until later in the decade that his breathy and whispery singing, which was considered innovative, became popular. His album, Chega De Saudade, was one of the first bossa nova records and Gilberto became known as one of the top interpreters of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s music, having early hits in Brazil with “Chega De Saudade” and “Desafinado.”
Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.