Lifetime Achievement Award: Antonio Carlos Jobim

Sergio Mendes pays tribute to the founder of bossa nova
  • Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
    Antonio Carlos Jobim
  • Photo: Rick Diamond/
    Sergio Mendes
January 31, 2012 -- 12:04 pm PST
By Sergio Mendes /

Antonio Carlos Jobim (in Brazil we called him Tom Jobim) is one of the most important composers of the 20th century. His beautiful songs, such as "The Girl From Ipanema," "Desafinado," "Corcovado (Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars)," "Wave," and "Waters Of March," to mention a few, became standards all over the world and were recorded by the greatest singers and musicians of our time.

Tom Jobim's music is unique — his melodies are haunting and the harmonies extremely sophisticated. He is responsible for introducing Brazilian music to the world.

Jobim is the primary founder of a Brazilian musical style that became known as bossa nova in the late '50s. He gained worldwide attention in 1959 with his contributions to the soundtrack for the film Black Orpheus. Shortly after, artists such as João Gilberto began enjoying hits with Jobim's songs. In 1964 Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto's version of "The Girl From Ipanema" won the GRAMMY for Record Of The Year. Soon, jazz artists and music lovers the world over would embrace bossa nova.

I was privileged to work with him on many occasions and fortunate to become his personal friend. He was my mentor and helped me a lot during the first years of my career. I have the fondest memories of the times we spent together at his home in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. As he was doing all the arrangements for my first album, we would spend many hours not only working, but also talking and laughing at his wonderful stories into the night.

Jazz musicians such as Getz, Charlie Byrd, Dizzy Gillespie, and many more were seduced by Tom's harmonies and original style. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Tony Bennett were some of the iconic singers who became enchanted by his melodies. His songs continue to entrance young artists of today, including, John Legend, Diana Krall, and many others.

I know he would be thrilled by the distinction of receiving a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award. I'm sure his music will continue to touch the hearts of many generations to come.

(Sergio Mendes first gained fame with Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, a group that played their own pivotal role in bringing international recognition to Brazilian music. His album Brasileiro won the Best World Music Album GRAMMY in 1992, and this year his Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. On Jan. 24 he earned an Oscar nomination for his song "Real In Rio" from the film Rio, co-written by Carlinhos Brown and Siedah Garrett.)

In addition to the GRAMMY Awards, The Recording Academy presents Special Merit Awards recognizing contributions of significance to the recording field, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY Award. Each year, The Academy invites friends and colleagues of Special Merit Awards recipients to pay tribute to the honorees' career accomplishments, while also adding colorful anecdotes and personal accounts. In the days leading up to the 54th GRAMMY Awards, will present the tributes to the 2012 Special Merit Awards recipients.

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