Fans Mourn João Gilberto at Rio de Janeiro Funeral

Jul 8, 2019
3:12 PM

Relatives pay their respects in memory of the Brazilian singer João Gilberto during his funeral at the Municipal Theater in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, July 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

By ANNA JEAN KAISER, Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Fans from around the world honored bossa nova pioneer João Gilberto, filing past his coffin at his funeral in Rio de Janeiro on Monday.

Gilberto’s body was displayed in an open casket at the entry of Rio’s Municipal Theater. His wife Maria do Ceu stood alongside the body as fans passed through to say their goodbyes.

Gilberto’s ex-wife Claudia Faissol and his youngest daughter Luisa were also present.

Huge funeral wreaths were lined up behind Gilberto’s coffin with banners that read, “To the master of masters, João Gilberto,” and “All the love for our genius, João.” One fan stood on the steps to the theater holding up a homemade sign that read “Go with God, João Gilberto.”

“His music reminds me of my teenage years,” said Graciela de la Torre, a 67-year-old fan from Argentina. “That smooth, rhythmical tone to sing, it’s so beautiful…. We used to dance with our boyfriends to this music.”

Josef Fitz of German said Gilberto’s art “was exciting. It was a special kind of music, a new kind of music.”

Jader Cruz, a 77-year-old from Rio de Janeiro, said he’s been listening to Gilberto’s music since he was 16.

“He will stay alive inside us, he will not die, his music will not disappear,” Cruz said. “He left a mark with that strength he had, that sweetness and love he put while playing, that is unforgettable.”

Gilberto also was honored at the final of the Copa America soccer tournament held in Rio de Janeiro. Tens of thousands of fans stopped for a minute of silence for Gilberto before the game started Sunday and pop star Anitta closed her opening performance by screaming, “Light to the master, João Gilberto!”

The 88-year-old Gilberto died of natural causes in his home in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday. He was one of the fathers of bossa nova music, which gained international popularity in the 1960s.