Brazilians mourn death of Bossa Nova pioneer João Gilberto


FILE – In this June 18, 2004 file photo, Brazilian composer Joao Gilberto performs at Carnegie Hall, in New York. The Brazilian singer and composer, who is considered one of the fathers of the Bossa Nova genre, has died. His death was confirmed by his children on Saturday, July 6, 2019. Gilberto was 88 years old. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilians – most of them at least – on Sunday mourned the loss of João Gilberto, one of the fathers of bossa nova music, which gained worldwide popularity in the 1960s.

Gilberto died from natural causes a day earlier at his home in Rio de Janeiro. He was 88.

The front page of O Globo, one of the country’s leading dailies, read, “The last flicker of the old flame,” quoting lyrics from one of Gilberto’s songs. Fellow artist Caetano Veloso tweeted that “Gilberto was the greatest artist my soul ever encountered,”

But far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was under fire for what many called a lackluster response to the iconic artist’s death.

Bolsonaro told reporters that Gilberto was “a known person. Condolences to the family, OK?”

Left-leaning former President Dilma Rousseff wrote in a statement on her website that Gilberto was, “an icon and symbol of a modern, loving, Brazil, full on swing and charm. He’s the face of the nation of bossa nova and samba, a symbol of the uniqueness of our people.”

With a dig at Bolsonaro, she added, “It’s a shame that this genius has left us the exact moment when Brazil is going through an institutional eclipse, dragging us all into an era of darkness shame in the eyes of the rest of the world.”

Gilberto’s lawyer, Gustavo Carvalho Miranda, told reporters that the artist died peacefully, with his wife by his side. He said Gilberto’s son, João Marcelo, will not be able to come to Brazil because he is renewing his visa in the United States and can’t leave the country. Gilberto’s daughter, Bebel, who is also a singer, was expected to arrive in Brazil on Sunday.

Gilberto’s funeral was to be held Monday afternoon at the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theater.

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