(Rio de Janeiro) Brazilian singer and songwriter Joao Donato, one of the pioneers of bossa nova, died Monday at age 88 in Rio de Janeiro, his entourage announced.
“Today, the composer’s paradise woke up happier: Joao Donato went there to play his beautiful melodies,” reads a statement posted on the musician’s official Instagram account.
The cause of death was not specified in the statement, but he had been hospitalized recently with pneumonia and had been intubated since last week, according to local media.
Singer, composer, pianist, accordionist and musical arranger, Joao Donato was less in the spotlight than other icons like Joao 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 in Rio de Janeiro, the town where he grew up, having moved as a child with his family from his hometown of Rio Branco, in the Amazon state of Acre.
It was in Rio that he began his musical career, becoming a figure of bossa nova, a musical genre that revolutionized Brazilian music at the end of the 1950s, giving it a worldwide audience.
He is the author of legendary compositions, such as Minha saudade (1962) with Joao Gilberto, the emblematic singer and guitarist of bossa nova, who died in 2019.
His first record, Cha Dance (1956), with his group Joao Donato e seu Conjunto, was produced by Tom Jobim.
A versatile artist, Joao Donato never wanted to confine himself to a single musical genre.
“I’m not bossa nova, samba, jazz, rumba or forró. In fact, I am all of that at once,” he said in an interview with the daily O Globo in 2014.
His talent has been recognized around the world, with numerous international tours, and he lived for ten years in the United States.
“He was one of the geniuses of Brazilian music. We lost today one of our best composers, one of the most creative […], who marked the history of music in our country with his compositions that have traveled the world”, reacted on Twitter the president Brazilian Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
In June, Brazil had already lost another icon of bossa nova, Astrud Gilberto, the interpreter of Girl from Ipanema.