Bossa nova pioneer João Donato dies at 88

One of the pioneers of bossa nova, Brazilian singer and composer João Donato died on Monday in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 88, his entourage announced.

“Today the musicians’ paradise just got happier: João Donato went there to play his wonderful tunes,” read a statement posted on the composer’s official Instagram account.

The statement did not specify a cause of death, but according to local media, he had recently been hospitalized with pneumonia and had been intubated since last week.

Singer, composer, pianist, accordionist and musical arranger, he was less in the limelight than other icons such as João Donato, João Gilberto or Tom Jobim, but he was a reference for a large number of Brazilian artists.

The wake will be held at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, the city where he grew up, having immigrated with his family as a child from his hometown of Rio Branco in the Amazon state of Acre (North).

It was in Rio that he began his musical career and became a figurehead of bossa nova, a musical style that revolutionized Brazilian music in the late 1950s, giving it a worldwide audience.

He is the author of such famous compositions as “Minha Saudade” (1962) with the icon singer and guitarist of bossa nova João Gilberto, who died in 2019.

His first record, “Cha Danquante” (1956), with his group João Donato e Seu Conjunto, was produced by Tom Jobim.

A versatile artist, João Donato never wanted to limit himself to one musical genre.

“I am not bossa nova, samba, jazz, rumba or forro. In fact, I am all of these at the same time”, he declared in a 2014 interview with the daily O Globo.

With several international tours, his talent was recognized worldwide and he lived in the United States for ten years.

“He was one of the geniuses of Brazilian music. Today we lost one of our best composers, one of the most creative (…), who marked the history of music in our country with his compositions, who influenced the world Traveled across,” Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reacted on Twitter.

In June, Brazil had already lost another bossa nova icon, Astrud Gilberto, the interpreter of “Girl from Ipanema”.

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