Norman Gimbel

Posted on Apr 10, 2013

As a leading translator for bossa nova songs originally written in Portuguese Norman Gimbel, helped break the language barrier and contributed to the bossa nova boom in North America during the late 50’s and 60’s.

The melody had already been composed. Vinicius De Moraes provided the lyrics to the song. It was to be a big hit that would launch careers and change the face of jazz and popular music in America forever. At this time it was called “Garota de Ipanema.”

Norman Gimbel

Norman Gimbel: Wrote the English lyrics for Girl from Ipanema

A New york born song-writer and lyricist met the musicians from Brazil through his friend and colleague Lou Levy. He was contracted to do the English lyrics for this song. From now on it would be known as the “Girl from Ipanema.” This was his contribution and for this he would always be inextricably associated with bossa nova. His name was Norman Gimbel.

“Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes – ah
When she walks, she’s like a samba that swings so cool and sways so gentle”

This was another highlight in a long and highly decorated career as a song-writer for the gifted lyricist. He also wrote English lyrics to bossa nova classics such as “How Insensitive,” “Summer Samba” ,”Meditation” and “Agua de Beber.”

Diverse and always clever; he not only contributed to a wide range of musical projects but also provided lyrics for an extensive list of movies and shows. This gave him the rare distinction of being nominated for a Golden Globe, Emmy, Oscar and Grammy (winning the last two awards).

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