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Gil, Gilberto

Gilberto Gil

1942-

Musician

Brazilian legend Gilberto Gil is sometimes described as his country's version of Sting or Bono. Like the British musical stars who have become active in environmental and social-reform causes, Gil has long been a crusader for protection of the Brazilian environment and for help for those who live in the overcrowded urban slums known as favelas that ring cities like Rio de Janeiro. Many of Brazil's poorest are of African heritage, like Gil himself. Gil is a celebrated and respected figure in the South American country solely for the achievements of his musical career alone, but his activism has made him a hero to many.

Gil's rise as an artist began in the 1960s, and within a decade he was an important pioneer in Afro-Brazilian musical styles. He has spent much of his subsequent career promoting the links between African musical styles and the new genres they created when transplanted to the Western Hemisphere. His albums blend the two worlds to create a new, distinctive voice and sound respected around the world by a long list of outstanding musicians. In Brazil, his concerts are usually sold out—unless they are staged for free, which he regularly does for the poor. A Grammy recipient and winner of the prestigious Polar Music Prize in 2005, Gil was hailed by Billboard writer Gerald Seligman for his "exemplary and extraordinary career. Imprisoned by one government, he came to be appointed minister by another. It is a sign of how far Brazil has come, certainly, but also of the integrity, consistency and accomplishment of one remarkable citizen."

Immersed in Rich Cultural Heritage

Gil was born on June 29, 1942, in Salvador, Brazil, the capital of the state of Bahia in northeast Brazil. In previous centuries, Bahia served as one vast sugar plantation, and over a third of the Africans brought to Brazil as slaves settled there. Unlike slavemasters in North America, however, the Portuguese colonists generally did not separate slave families, and even those brought over from same tribe generally stayed in same area. Because of this, African culture took root more firmly in Brazil than elsewhere in the New World, and especially in Bahia. There, the local cuisine is heavily influenced by African styles, while a religion known as Candomblé is an amalgam of Roman Catholic and Yoruba practices. Furthermore, new musical styles flourished in Bahia that drew upon African rhythms, the songs of the indigenous Indian tribes, and European influences and instruments.

Gil was a product of this rich Afro-Brazilian heritage in Bahia. His father was a physician and his mother a teacher, and he has described his background as one that was middle class, but tenuously so. Fascinated by music at an early age, he was playing the drums at the age of three; by the time he turned seven, he was teaching himself the trumpet by playing along with the radio. In his teen years, he took up the accordion. By then his family had moved to Salvador, and it was there he joined his first musical group, Os Desfinados (The Out-of-Tunes). He played the accordion and vibraphone, but soon switched to guitar after he heard another musical talent from Bahia, Joāo Gilberto, and the new style called bossa nova for which Gilberto was gaining fame in the late 1950s.

Bossa nova soon replaced samba as the dominant popular music in Brazil. Gil with his guitar teamed with Caetano Veloso, whom he first met while a student at the University of Bahia in 1963. Introduced by Veloso's sister and fellow musician, Maria Bethania, they two musical collaborators would go on to a long career together, first in bossa nova and then as they created their own sound. Within a few years they had pioneered a new musical form called Tropicalismo, which drew upon Western rock 'n' roll and became the soundtrack for the counterculture protest movement in Brazil in the late 1960s.

Arrested, Jailed, and Sent into Exile

Gil himself had dropped out of his own middle-class life after finishing his business degree from the University of Bahia in 1965. He had taken a job as a management trainee with Gessy-Lever, a consumer-products conglomerate, in Sāo Paulo, but quit in 1966 to concentrate on his music career. He had a hit as a songwriter that same year in "Louvaçáo," recorded by Ellis Regina, and a music-festival entry done with Veloso, "Domingo no Parque," was another early hit. Louvaçáo was also the title of his first full-length LP, released in 1967 on the Philips label.

Despite his growing popularity, Gil and the other Tropicalismo pioneers soon ran afoul of government authorities. Brazil had been under a military dictatorship since 1964, and a new crackdown on free speech and the arts came in 1968 with Institutional Act V. The harsh new laws meant tough censorship guidelines for musical recordings and live performances, and when Gil and Veloso appeared on a television program and appeared to poke fun at the government, they were arrested and charged with degrading the national flag and Brazil's anthem. Their heads were shaved and they were jailed in a solitary confinement wing, where they could hear the screams of other prisoners being tortured. After two months, both were released, but Gil was placed under house arrest for several months before he and Veloso were strongly encouraged to leave the country.

At a Glance …

Born Gilberto Gil Moreira on June 29, 1942, in Salvador, Brazil; son of a physician and a teacher; married three times; seven children. Education: Studied business at the University of Bahia, early 1960s; studied music with Antonio Carlos "Tom" Jobim at the Goethe Institute. Politics: Green Party (Partido Verde) of Brazil. Religion: Candomblé.

Career: Guitar player, percussionist, singer, songwriter, and record producer; joined group Os Desfinados as a teenager; worked briefly for Gessy-Lever, a consumer-products conglomerate in Sāo Paulo, Brazil, c. 1965-66; began collaborating with Caetano Veloso, late 1960s; pioneered a new musical style called Tropicalismo; spent 1969 to 1972 as a political exile in Britain; Salvador, Bahia, elected to city council, 1988; named Bahia's minister for culture; Government of Brazil, Minister of Culture, 2003-.

Awards: Grammy Award for Best World Music Album, for Quanta Live, 1998; Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (LARAS), Person of the Year, 2003; Polar Music Prize, Royal Swedish Academy of Music, 2005.

Addresses: Office—c/o Blue Jackel Entertainment, P.O. Box 87, Huntington, NY 11743. Web—www.gilbertogil.com.br.

Gil settled in London, England, for the next three years. It was not an altogether terrible time, he recalled in an interview with the Independent Sunday's Garth Cart-wright. "We arrived the week The Beatles released Abbey Road, saw the Rolling Stones at the Round-house, jammed with Weather Report, heard reggae. A great experience. The fact you could walk up to a policeman and ask directions—in Brazil that just doesn't happen." Gil became particularly intrigued by reggae, the indigenous Jamaican musical form. As he explained in a Nation interview with Gene Santoro, he quickly grasped the political message in this kind of music. "The whole Rasta cultural thing, the hair and the colors and the communal life, the message and the fight for freedom, the need for ending problems of decolo-nization in Africa—it was quite something, the way that it followed up on the '60s black power movement in the United States," he told Santoro. "I made the links between Stevie Wonder and Miles Davis and Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley: people speaking out, being proud of being black, understanding the difficulties of getting black culture into Western civilization."

To witness that black culture himself from its source, Gil began visiting Africa in the 1970s. He spent time in the Ivory Coast and in Senegal, and went to Nigeria in 1977, where he met American singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder, Nigerian musical superstar Fela Kuti—a pioneer of Afropop—and King Sunny Ade, another Nigerian musician and one who helped popularize African juju music, based on traditional Yoruba percussion styles. "That trip really gave me the push toward blackness, toward really trying to understand the roots and spirit of the culture," Gil recalled to Santoro. "Being able to spot the original sources of things we cultivate in Bahia shook me; it was a really emotional experience…. So when I got back to Brazil, I started doing music in a more black-oriented vein."

Gil returned to Brazil in 1972, after a less repressive political regime came to power, and his music began to incorporate Yoruba words and juju forms. He also continued to collaborate musically with Veloso. Together they pioneered another new musical style in the 1970s, which became known as Música Popular Brasileria, or Brazilian Popular Music, and known by its acronym, MPB. Their work began to attract the attention of respected musicians elsewhere, foremost among them David Byrne, founder of the seminal punk-new wave outfit the Talking Heads. In the 1980s and 1990s, Gil would release records on Byrne's Luaka Bop label.

Entered Politics with Green Party

Gil was also drawn into politics. In 1988, he ran for a seat on Salvador's city council on the Green Party (Partido Verde) ticket, and won by a record number of votes. He was sworn into office at a time when it was still relatively rare for a black to be elected to public office in Brazil. He went on to hold a seat on the executive committee of the Green Party in Brazil, and was made Bahia's minister of culture. He was increasingly active in environmental issues as well and founded an organization called Onda Azul (Blue Wave), which worked to protect Brazil's Atlantic shoreline and coastal waters from pollution. He used his high profile to draw attention to rainforest conservation. As always, he also focused his attention on Brazil's poor and the dispossessed, particularly those who lived in the ramshackle favelas, the shanty towns originally established by freed slaves.

In 2003, a newly elected Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio da Silva of the leftist Workers' Party, made Gil the country's newest Minister of Culture. Along with another cabinet appointee, Benedita da Silva, Gil was the first black to be appointed to a cabinet post in Brazil since the appointment of Pelé, the internationally famous soccer star. The appointment was somewhat controversial, for some of the more Marxist-centered members of Brazil's left had long been suspicious of Gil for using what were viewed as "decadent" Western musical influences like the electric guitar in his music. Cultural mavens, on the other hand, argued that Gil was perhaps not the best qualified candidate for the job of Culture Minister. But New York Times correspondent Larry Rohter framed the debate in another light, writing that because the musical legend was "a native of the state of Bahia and a black man, Mr. Gil may also be the victim of a regional prejudice with a certain racial subtext. Other Brazilians tend to regard people from that northeastern state as disorganized and indolent, to the point that one slang term for a midafternoon siesta is 'bahiano.'"

Gil became perhaps the first cabinet minister of one of the world's leading economic powers to sport dread-locks. He took an office in the modernist federal capital of Brasilia, and went to work championing Brazilian culture at home and abroad. His new job was not that different from his previous career as a musician, he said in an Americas interview with Marcia Cunha and Mark Holston. "Politics is an art form," he declared. "I came here to practice the art of politics in a ministry dedicated to art. This is a change of place, not of substance." He was also determined to promote all forms of Brazilian culture, not just more popular forms that translated well on the international stage. "Brazil's image abroad is associated with popular culture: samba, the way we play football," he told Newsweek International writer Mac Margolis. "But what we need to do is break the prejudice that popular culture is a lesser product. Blacks and Afro-Indians are the soul of the country. Brazil needs to come to terms with itself, different from the Brazilian elite, who want to be a copy of Europe or the United States."

Gil is a major celebrity in Brazil. Once, his car was stolen in Salvador, and the crime story appeared on the local news outlets; the next day, his car was returned with a note of apology. Married three times, he has seven children and runs a recording studio and impressive musical mini-empire. In 2005 he was a co-recipient of the Polar Music Prize, a generous award bestowed by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music from an endowment given by Stig Anderson, who earned a fortune as manager of the Swedish pop group Abba in the 1970s. But it is his political career that he hopes will have a more lasting impact on Brazilians, he told Seligman in the Billboard interview. "My goal is to help my country and to help my planet establish a more civilized and acceptable process of social change and understanding. I'm looking for a better human society."

Selected discography

Louvaçáo, Philips, 1967.

Gilberto Gil, Philips, 1968.

(With Caetano Veloso) Barra 69 (live), Philips, 1972.

Gilberto Gil Ao Vivo (live), Philips, 1974.

(With Jorge Ben) Gil e Jorge, Verve, 1975.

Refavela, Warner Music Brazil, 1977.

Nightingale, Elektra, 1979.

Brasil, Polydor, 1981.

Luar (A Gente Precisa Ver o Luar), WEA Latina, 1981.

Quilombo (Trilha Sonora), WEA, 1984.

Gilberto Gil em Concerto, Westwind, 1987.

O Eterno Deus Mu Dança, WEA Latina, 1989.

Parabolic, WEA Latina, 1991.

(With Caetano Veloso) Caetano y Gil: Tropicalia 2, Nonesuch, 1994.

Quanta Live, Atlanta/Mesa, 1998.

O Sol de Oslo, Blue Jackel, 1998.

Kaya N'Gan Daya, WEA International, 2002.

Eletrácustico (Unplugged), WEA International, 2004.

As Cancoes de Eu Tu Eles, WEA International, 2005.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Musicians, Vol. 26, Gale Group, 1999.

Periodicals

America's Intelligence Wire, October 25, 2004.

Americas, September-October 1993, p. 14; November-December 2003, p. 14.

Billboard, August 23, 2003, p. LM3.

Daily Telegraph (London), July 1, 2003.

Independent Sunday (London), June 10, 2002, p. 7.

Investor's Business Daily, October 7, 2003, p. A4.

Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, August 12, 1993.

Latin Trade, December 2003, p. 19.

Nation, May 20, 1991, p. 676.

Newsweek International, February 3, 2003, p. 54.

New York Times, December 31, 2002, p. E1.

Time International, January 27, 2003, p. 67.

—Carol Brennan

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Gil, Gilberto

Gilberto Gil

Singer, songwriter

A dominant force in contemporary Brazilian music, Gilberto Gil helped shape that nation's modern music in the twentieth century. His lasting influence could be seen beyond the borders of Brazil. Toward the end of the century he continued to exert his influence on new generations of musicians by discovering and nurturing new talent while continuing his own schedule of recording and performing.

Gilberto Gil was born on June 29, 1942, in Salvador, Brazil, and spent his childhood in Bahia, in the Brazilian interior. As a child he began playing drums and showed an interest in various forms of music. He started teaching himself to play trumpet by listening to radio programs at the age of seven. His family moved back to Salvador when Gil was in his teens. It was in 1950, after hearing the music of Luiz Gonzaga, that he decided to learn to play the accordion. Gil played with the group Os Desfinados while still in high school. When he heard Joao Gilberto on the radio, he switched instruments again, this time to guitar.

Gil studied business at the University of Bahia and worked for a short time in Sao Paulo for Gessy-Lever, a huge multinational firm. In 1966 he decided to devote himself solely to a career in music. Early musical influences, in addition to Gonzaga and Gilberto, included Sivuca and Antonio Carlos "Tom" Jobim, the legendary Brazilian composer with whom he studied at the Goethe Institute. Gil earned his first recording contract in 1966, and he had his first hit as a songwriter with Ellis Regina's version of "Louvaçáo" that same year.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to write about Gilberto Gil without mentioning Caetano Veloso. Both were musicians shaped by almost identical influences. They were university students in Bahia and met at the Teatro Vila Velha in Salvador in 1963. Gil and Veloso competed in several music festivals. At one such competition, Gil's "Domingo no Parque" became one of his first songs to be widely recognized. Tarik De Souza wrote in a 1986 UNESCO Courier article, "For their part, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso picked up, each in his own way, the musical threads laid down by [Dorival "Dorri"] Caymmi and Joao Gilberto." They would become longtime friends and artistic collaborators.

Mark Holston wrote in Guitar Player that Brazilian musicians "owe their privileged status to a unique combination of factors present only in Brazil. Through imported African slaves came Brazil's most important musical ingredient, as Jobim describes: [that of] ‘the basic African rhythm.’ Europeans, Jobim continues, also had an impact: ‘The European contribution … is enormous: melody, harmony, and form, as well as instruments.’"

Gil and Veloso were among the artists attempting to amalgamate all these various influences, with the addition of electric guitars from British and American rock, while remaining politically and artistically relevant and uniquely Brazilian. The result was a movement called Tropicalismo. The movement has been described in various terms, often perceived as a counterpart to the American hippie movement. Bahian artists, including Gil and Veloso, Tom Ze, Gal Costa, Maria Bethânia (Veloso's sister) and Jose Carlos Capinam were associated with the movement from 1967-69. The band Os Mutantes, composers Rogerio Duprat and Julio Medaglia, and poets Augusto and Haroldo de Campos were also associated with Tropicalismo.

Tropicalismo was "a [cry] for moral and aesthetic liberty launched by Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil," explained Mario de Aratanhain the UNESCO Courier. "Political dissent invaded the realm of music, growing into full-blooded revolt against the military dictatorship set up in 1964. Under the new rulers, harsh artistic censorship joined up with police violence to silence a generation." "Their lyrics were socially-conscious and provocative, but they also experimented with the electrifying rock sounds that emanated from England and the United States," wrote Christopher Dunn in Americas. In that same article Gil told Dunn, "Tropicalismo opened the doors to all influences, it had a democratic attitude towards culture. It helped to reaffirm the popular culture of the streets, and influenced the re-africanization of Brazilian culture."

Around the same time, Brazil was entering a period of increased protests, political violence, military censorship and political and cultural repression. In 1968 President Arthur da Costa e Silva censored the arts and press. Under his regime, left-wing leaders, labor organizers, and artists, including Veloso and Gil, were arrested. "We were very supportive of what was happening in the universities in the [United States] and in Paris, for instance," said Gil, "and reproduced those events for Brazilian students. So I wound up in jail for two months, then house arrest for six months. Then I was sent away to London, where I stayed for three years."

Trips during his Exile

During his exile, Gil made several trips to Africa and began exploring music of the diaspora throughout the Caribbean, particularly reggae. The most influential of his trips was one to Nigeria in 1977. "When I went to Nigeria in '77, I met Fela, Stevie Wonder and King Sunny Ade. That trip really gave me the push toward blackness, toward really trying to understand the roots and spirit of the culture," explained Gil. "I made the links between Stevie Wonder and Miles Davis and Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley: people speaking out, being proud of being black, understanding the difficulties of getting black culture into Western civilization. So when I got back to Brazil, I started doing music in a more black-oriented vein."

From Tropicalismo sprang Música Popular Brasileria (Brazilian Popular Music), or MPB. Gil is considered the first MPB musician to use an electric guitar. This wave of music in the 1970s introduced new Brazilian artists to the United States, but Gil's music was not widely recognized in American until the 1980s, when Talking Heads founder David Byrne and other English-speaking musicians injected bossa nova and other Afro-Brazilian sounds into their own music.

For the Record …

Born Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira on June 29, 1942, in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

Played various instruments in childhood and youth, including accordion, drums and trumpet; met Caetano Veloso in 1963; signed first recording contract, 1966; first noted hit "Domingo No Parque"; founded Tropicália movement in 1967 with Veloso and others; government censorship imposed in Brazil, Gil and Veloso arrested, jailed, and forced into exile in London, 1968; began exploring roots of Brazilian music; trip to Nigeria in 1977 resulted in recording Refavela; entered Bahian politics, successfully ran for city council, appointed to various cultural and social organizations, 1987; retired from politics, but remained involved in some organizations on a voluntary basis, 1992; continued to record throughout 1990s with Veloso and other musicians and as a solo artist.

Awards: Grammy Award, for Quanta Live, 1998; Knight of Arts and Letters (France) and Cruz da Ordem de Rio Branco (Brazil).

Addresses: Record company—Blue Jackel Entertainment, P.O. Box 87, Huntington, NY 11743. Website—Official Gilberto Gil Website: http://www.gilbertogil.com.br.

In addition to being active as a recording artist throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Gil became politically active, particularly in Bahian cultural programs. He was a city councilman, elected with more votes than any other candidate, and was one of the few blacks in Brazil to hold public office in the late 1980s. He formed a group called Blue Wave and performed at events to raise funds and awareness for rainforest preservation. In 1995 he became part of the council for the Brazilian social program called Comunidad Solidaria. However, he decided against running for a second term, saying, "I just couldn't adapt to the character of being a politician. The masks you wear. I'm not a warrior. I'm a humanist. And politics are not humanist at all."

Even after his short political career, Gil's popularity did not wane, and he continued to record and tour internationally. Gil's Quanta Live was recognized with a 1998 Grammy Award. Gil told Rhythm, "the most important thing to me is that I like the record, and that's the best point about receiving an award." Recorded live at the peak of the band's form in Brazil, Gil considered the Grammy a band achievement.

Towards the end of the century Gil by now in his fifties continued to grow musically. "I've always been a musician, and I have always tried to keep developing new ideas," said Gil in an interview for O Sol De Oslo. "Since I see change as a natural process, I think I've always been changing and developing my music. It's hard for me to state precisely which directions I took, but I have moved along using my feelings and intuition." He won another Grammy in 2006 for Best Contemporary World Music Album for Eletracustico, a live album featuring covers of such songs as John Lennon's "Imagine" and Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds."

In 2001 Gil provided the soundtrack for the film Me, You, Them. The recordings on the album were a tribute of sorts to Brazilian musician Luiz Gonzaga, one of the country's leading proponents of baiao—a North Brazilian music that relies heavily on the percussive sounds produced on the zabumba double bass drum. The soundtrack featured Gil's remakes of Gonzaga classic songs, original material, and original 1950s recordings by Luiz Bonfa. That same year Gil also released a live album, Sao Joao Vivo, and a collaboration with Brazilian singer Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil & Milton Nascimento. The latter featured many original compositions penned by the duo as well as an interesting reggae-tinged cover of the Beatles' George Harrison song "Something." The restless and politically invigorated Gil released an album consisting entirely of Bob Marley covers in 2002, Kaya N'Gan Daya. He followed this with a concept album, Z: 300 Anos de Zumbi, which was conceived as a ballet about Zumbi, a Brazilian hero who founded a refuge for escaped slaves. Gil was named Brazil's Minister of Culture in the early part of the twenty-first century, while continuing a frenetic schedule of recording, composing, and performing. His 2006 release, Gil Luminoso, marked a departure of sorts for Gil, as he performed entirely solo with only self-accompaniment on guitar. The "unplugged" versions of many tunes from nearly four decades of recorded output revealed new depth and sincerity in Gil's songwriting craft and delivery technique.

Selected discography

Refavela, Warner Music Brazil, 1977.

Personalidade, Polygram Brazil.

A Gente Precisa Ver o Lua, WEA Brazil, 1981.

(Contributor) Beleza Tropical: Brazil Classics, Vol. I, Luaka Bop, 1989.

(With Caetano Veloso) Caetano y Gil: Tropicalia 2, Nonesuch, 1994.

(contributor) Red Hot + Rio, PGD/Verve, 1996.

(Contributor) Tropicália 30 Anos, (five-CD set reissue), Mercury/Polygram Brazil, 1998.

Quanta Live, Atlanta/Mesa, 1998.

O Sol de Oslo, Blue Jackel Entertainment, Inc., 1999.

(Contributor) Beleza Tropical 2: Novo! Mais! Melhor!, Luaka Bop, 1999.

(Contributor) Copacabana Mon Amour, Inedit, 1999.

(Contributor) Me, You, Them, Atlantic, 2001.

(Contributor) Sao Joao Vivo, WEA International, 2001.

(Contributor) Gilberto Gil & Milton Nascimento, Atlantic, 2001.

(Contributor) Kaya N'Gan Daya, WEA International, 2002.

(Contributor) Z: 300 Anos de Zumbi, Lightyear, 2002.

(Contributor) Eletracustico, WEA International, 2004.

(Contributor) As Cancoes de Eu tu Eles, WEA International, 2005.

(Contributor) Soul of Brazil, WEA/Warner, 2005.

(Contributor) Gilberto Gil: Ao Vivo, WEA, 2005.

(Contributor) Gil Luminoso, Biscoito Fino, 2006.

Sources

Books

Broughton, Simon, et al, editors, World Music: The Rough Guide, Penguin Books USA, Inc., 1994.

Schreiner, Claus, Música Brasileira, Marion Boyars Publishers, 1993.

Periodicals

Americas (English edition), September-October 1993.

Guitar Player, December 1994; May 1999.

Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, August 12, 1993.

Nation, May 20, 1991.

New York Times Magazine, April 25, 1999.

Philadelphia Inquirer, June 1, 1999.

Rhythm, June 1999.

Time, October 16, 1989.

UNESCO Courier, December 1986; March 1991.

Online

All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (February 12, 2007).

Gilberto Gil Official Website,http://www.gilbertogil.com.br/index.php?language=en (February 12, 2007).

Other

Additional information was provided by Blue Jackel Entertainment, Inc., publicity materials, Arto Lindsay's liner notes to Caetano y Gil: Tropicalia 2, and several online publications.

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Gil, Gilberto

Gilberto Gil

Singer, songwriter

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

A dominant force in contemporary Brazilian music, Gilberto Gil helped shape that nations modern music in the twentieth century. His lasting influence could be seen beyond the borders of Brazil. Towards the end of the century he continued to exert his influence on new generations of musicians by discovering and nurturing new talent in, while continuing his schedule of recording and performing.

Gilberto Gil was born June 29, 1942 in Salvador, Brazil and spent his childhood in Bahia, in the Brazilian interior. As a child he began playing drums and showed interest in various forms of music. He started teaching himself to play trumpet by listening to radio programs at the age of seven. His family moved backto Salvador when Gil was in his teens. It was in 1950, after hearing the music of Luiz Gonzaga that he decided to learn to play the accordion. Gil played with a group Os Desfinados while still in high school. When he heard Joao Gilberto on the radio, he switched instruments again, this time to guitar.

Gil studied business at the University of Bahia and worked for a short time in Sao Paulo for Gessy-Lever, a huge multinational firm. In 1966 he decided to devote himself solely to a career in music. Early musical influences, in addition to Gonzaga and Gilberto, included Sivuca and Antonio Carlos Tom Jobim, the legendary Brazilian composer with whom he studied at the Goethe Institute. Gil had his first recording contract in 1966, and he had his first hit as a songwriterEllis Reginas version of Louvaçáo that same year.

It is truly difficult, if not entirely impossible, to write about Gilberto Gil without mentioning Caetano Veloso. Both were musicians shaped by almost identical influences. They were university students in Bahia and met at the Teatro Vila Velha in Salvador in 1963. Gil and Veloso competed in several music festivalsGis Domingo no Parque was one of his first songs to be widely recognized through participation in these competitions. For their part, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, writes Tarik De Souza in a 1986 UNESCO Courier article, picked up, each in his own way, the musical threads laid down by [Dorival Dorri] Caymmi and Joao Gilberto. They would become long-time friends and artistic collaborators.

As Mark Holston wrote in Guitar Player, that Brazilian musicians owe their privileged status to a unique combination of factors present only in Brazil. Through imported African slaves came Brazils most important musical ingredient, as Jobim describes: The striking feature of Brazilian popular music is the basic African rhythm. Europeans, Jobim continues, also had an impact: The European contribution, as can easily be seen, is enormous: melody, harmony, and form, as well as instruments. The fact is that European culture found new and fertile ground here.

Gil and Veloso were among the artists attempting to amalgamate all these various influences, with the addition of electric guitars from British and American rock, while remaining politically and artistically relevant and uniquely Brazilian. The result was a movement called Tropicalismo. The movement has been described in various terms, often perceived as a counterpart to the American hippie movement. Bahian artists including Gil and Veloso, Tom Ze, Gal Costa, Maria Bethânia (Velosos sister) and Jose Carlos Capinam were associated with the movement from 1967-69. The band Os Mutantes, composers Rogerio Duprat and Julio Medaglia, and poets Augusto and Haroldo de Campos were all associated with Tropicalismo, as well.

Tropicalismo was a [cry] for moral and aesthetic liberty launched by Caetano Veloso and GilbertoGil, explained Mario de Aratanhain the UNESCO Courier. Political dissent invaded the realm of music, growing into full-blooded revolt against the military dictatorship set up in 1964. Under the new rulers, harsh artistic censorship joined up with police violence to silence a generation. Their lyrics were socially-conscious and provocative,

For the Record

Born June 29, 1942 in Salvador, Brazil.

Played various instruments in childhood and youth, including accordion, drums and trumpet; met Caetano Veloso in 1963; signed first recording contract, 1966; first noted hit Domingo No Parque ; founded Tropicália movement in 1967 with Veloso and others; government censorship imposed in Brazil, Gil and Veloso arrested, jailed, and forced into exile in London l968; began exploring roots of Brazilian music; trip to Nigeria in 1977 results in recording Refavela; enters Bahian politics, successfully runs for city council, and is appointed to various cultural and social organizations, 1987; retired from politics, but remained involved in some organizations on a voluntary basis 1992; continued to record throughout 1990s with Veloso, other musicians and as a solo artist. Awards: 1998 Grammy for Quanta Live; Knight of Arts and Letters (France) and Cruz da Ordem de Rio Branco (Brazil).

Addresses: Record company Blue Jackel Entertainment, P.O. Box 87, Huntington, NY 11743. Websitehttp://www.gilbertogil.com.br.

but they also experimented with the electrifying rock sounds that emanated from England and the United States, wrote Christopher Dunn in Americas. One particularly ingenious song by Gilberto Gil and poet Torquato Neto, Geleia Gera(General Jelly), reconciles rock with traditional Brazilian popular culture. In that same article Gil told Dunn, Tropicalismo opened the doors to all influences, it had a democratic attitude towards culture. It helped to reaffirm the popular culture of the streets, and influenced the re-africanization of Brazilian culture.

Around the same time, Brazil was entering a period of increased protests, political violence, military censorship and political and cultural repression. President Arthur da Costa e Silva, in December 1968, censored the arts and press with Institutional Act V. Under this legislation left-wing leaders, labor organizers and artists, including Veloso and Gil, were arrested. We were very supportive of what was happening in the universities in the [U.S.] and in Paris, for instance, said Gil, and reproduced those events for Brazilian students. So I wound up in jail for two months, then house arrest for six months. Then I was sent away to London, where I stayed for three years.

During his exile Gil made several trips to Africa and began exploring music of the diaspora throughout the Caribbean, particularly reggae. The most influential of these voyages was a trip to Nigeria in 1977. When I went to Nigeria in 77, I met Fela, Stevie Wonder and King Sunny Ade. That trip really gave me the push toward blackness, toward really trying to understand the roots and spirit of the culture, explained Gil. I made the links between Stevie Wonder and Miles Davis and Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley: people speaking out, being proud of being black, understanding the difficulties of getting black culture into Western civilization. So when I got back to Brazil, I started doing music in a more black-oriented vein.

From Tropicalismo sprung Música Popular Brasileña (Brazilian Popular Music) or MPB. Gil is considered the first MPB musician to use an electric guitar. This wave of music in the 1970s introduced new Brazilian artists to the United States, but Gils music was not widely recognized in American until the 1980s when Talking Heads founder David Byrne and other English-speaking musicians injected bossa nova and other Afro-Brazilian sounds into their own music.

In addition to being active as a recording artist throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Gil became politically active, particularly in Bahian cultural programs. He was a city councilman, elected with more votes than any other candidate and one of the few blacks in Brazil to hold public office in the late 1980s. He formed a group called Blue Wave and performed at events to raise funds and awareness for rainforest preservation. In 1995 he became part of the council for the Brazilian social program called Comunidad Solidaria. However, he decided against running for a second term saying, I just couldnt adapt to the character of being a politician. The masks you wear. Im not a warrior. Im a humanist. And politics are not humanist at all.

Even after his short political career, Gils popularity did not wane, and he continued to record and tour internationally. Gils Quanta Live was recognized with a 1998 Grammy award. Gil told Rhythm the most important thing to me is that I like the record, and thats the best point about receiving an award. Recorded live at the peak of the bands form in Brazil, Gil considered the Grammy as band achievement.

Towards the end of the century Gilby now in his fifties continued to grow musically. Ive always been a musician, and I have always tried to keep developing new ideas, said Gil in an interview for O Sol De Oslo. Since I see change as a natural process, I think Ive always been changing and developing my music. Its hard for me to state precisely which directions I took, but I have moved along using my feelings and intuition.

Selected discography

Refavela, Warner Music Brazil, 1977.

Personalidade, Polygram Brazil.

A Gente Precisa Ver o Lua, WEA Brazil, 1981.

(contributor) Beleza Tropical: Brazil Classics Vol. I, Luaka Bop, 1989.

(with Caetano Veloso) Caetano y Gil: Tropicalia 2, Nonesuch, 1994.

(contributor) Red Hot + Rio (Refazenda), PGD/Verve, 1996.

(contributor) Tropicália 30 Anos (five-CD set reissue), Mercury/Polygram Brazil, 1998.

Quanta Live, Atlanta/Mesa, 1998.

O Sol de Oslo, Blue Jackel Entertainment, Inc., 1999.

(contributor) Beleza Tropical 2: Novo! Mais! Melhor!, Luaka Bop, 1999.

Sources

Books

Broughton, Simon, et. al., editors, World Music: The Rough Guide, Penguin Books USA, Inc., 1994.

Schreiner, Claus, Música Brasileira, Marion Boyars Publishers, 1993.

Periodicals

Americas (English Edition), September-October 1993.

Guitar Player, December 1994; May 1999.

Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, August 12, 1993.

New York Times Magazine, April 25, 1999.

Philadelphia Inquirer, June 1, 1999.

Rhythm, June 1999.

The Nation, May 20, 1991.

Time, October 16, 1989.

UNESCO Courier, December, 1986; March 1991.

Additional information provided by Blue Jackel Entertainment, Inc., publicity materials.

Linda Dailey Paulson

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"Gil, Gilberto." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved May 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/gil-gilberto

Gil, Gilberto

GILBERTO GIL

Born: Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira; Salvador, Brazil, 29 June 1942

Genre: World, Tropicalia

Best-selling album since 1990: Tropicalista 2 (1993)

Hit songs since 1990: "Madalena"


Gilberto Gil regards himself as "the second guy" of Brazilian superstars, behind Caetano Veloso, his longtime friend and collaborator. But Gil's renown as a creative, accessible, and pan-stylistic musician is as appreciated as anyone's worldwide. Besides an acclaimed international recording and performing career, Gil's social concerns have led him into politics, and at the end of 2002 he was named Brazil's minister of culture by president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

As a child in the remote interior of the state of Bahia, Gil was interested in the improvised musical jousts of street singers and marketplace guitarists. He returned with his family to the city of Salvador when he was eight years old; he heard trio electrico (heavy percussion and electric guitars) and button-accordion star Luiz Gonzago, and he was inspired to pick up the accordion. As a teenager he played forrosdance partiesin Os Desafina Dos ("the out-of-tune ones"), and enrolled in business administration at the Federal University, where he first met Veloso.

Enthralled by bossa nova singer and guitarist Joao Gilberto, Gil bought a guitar, taught himself to sing and play, and earned a living composing television ads until 1964, when he appeared in a Brazilian song review directed by Veloso (which included other singers, such as Veloso's sister Maria Bethania, Gal Costa, and Tom Zé). Relocating to Sao Paulo, Brazil's most African-influenced city, Gil had a hit with singer Elis Regina's rendition of his song "Louvacao" (1965). First recording under his own name in 1966, Gil became known as a protest singer and founding member of the artistic circle that established tropicalia, an esthetic and social movement adapting attitudes of British and American youth culture.

Tropicalia was, naturally, unpopular with the military junta that assumed governmental powers through a coup in 1968; Gil and Veloso suffered censorship, several months of imprisonment, and voluntary exile in London from early 1969 through 1972. Though Gil's songs continued to be issued in Brazil (his first hit single was "Aquele Abraco," 1969), he worked in England with rock artists Pink Floyd, Yes, the Incredible String Band, and Rod Stewart, among others, and recorded an album in English.

Back in Brazil, Gil fired up his career with Expresso 2222 (1972) and subsequent albums, including Os Doces Bararos ("The Sweet Barbarians"; 1976), named after his band with Brazilian music stars Veloso, Gal Costa, and Maria Bethania. His most notable fusion of rhythms from Africa and the Caribbean with those of Brazil was Refavela, which was released in 1977; that year Gil signed an international recording deal with Warner/Elektra/Asylum, leading to United States and European tours.

In 1980 Gil's rendition of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry," sung with Jimmy Cliff, was a number one hit in Brazil, selling a reported 700,000 copies. He followed up a triumph at the Montreux Jazz Festival with Cliff in 1982, and recorded Raca Humana (1984) with Bob Marley's band, the Wailers. In 1985, Gil celebrated his twentieth career anniversary with Brazilian musicians Jorge Benjor, Chico Buarque, Roberto Carlos, Caetano Veloso, Costa, and Bethania in a Sao Paulo concert titled "Gil 20 Anos Luz."

Spot Light: Gil Named Brazil's Minister of Culture


Gilberto Gil's political consciousness and advocacy of the rights and needs of Brazil's impoverished minority populations have been central throughout his career. "Politics is a martial art, and I'm more cut out to be a diplomat than a politician," Gil said, but he already experienced that martial art as an elected council member in his native city, Salvador. In populist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's administration, Gil manages a $120 million annual budget, much of it preordained for departmental costs. His goals include enlisting artists across disciplines in an antihunger campaign, and promoting Brazilian culture worldwide, including its colonial architectural heritage, its burgeoning film industry, and the flora and fauna of its rain forests. Lula's appointment of two blacksGil and Benedita da Silva (social assistance minister)to cabinet-level governmental positions makes an immediate statement in a country that boasts of being racially integrated, yet has only had one previous black minister, the soccer star Pelé. Gil predicts that his responsibilities will necessitate the suspension of "at least 80 percent of my professional career." His absence from the stage and recording studio might displease devotees, but Gil intends to perform on weekends and holidays, and is following his 28-CD career retrospective release, Palco (2002), with a studio album.


Even before his late-sixties-early-seventies sojourn in Europe, Gil had been a spokesperson for the budding black consciousness movement in Brazil, as well as other humanitarian and ecological issues. After the release of Gilberto Gil en Concerto (1987), he moved to Salvador to become president of Fundacao Gregorio de Matos, a cultural and preservationist agency; in 1988 he was elected to the city council, where he served until 1992. Then, to kick off the release of Parabolic (1992), Gil performed for free to some 80,000 listeners on Rio de Janiero's Copacabana beach. The track "Madalena" became an important Carnival anthem, and he toured Europe, the United States, and Japan.

On Tropicalista 2 (1993), Gil regroups with Veloso to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of tropicalia and thirtieth year of their friendship. Their collaboration is successful; their duets amplify each other's personalities and bring out the best in harmonious comraderie. Acoustic (1994) echoes his MTV Unplugged video concert; he shines up close, attentive to every nuance of his voice and guitar playing. In Quanta (1998), Gil demonstrates the immediacy of his concerns, with lyrics contemplating the Internet's relation to music. In the 1990s, he released some dozen albums, including Gil and Milton (2001), a collaboration with vocalist Milton Nascimento, another, but more flamboyant, singer of the Tropicalista generation. Taking chances with his voice, improvising songs without words, and dancing with merriment onstage, Gil exudes playfulness even in his sixties.

Gil's strengths include his inspired blends of Afro-Bahian, rock, soul, reggae, and other Caribbean rhythms, which support lyrics ranging from political issues to songs of seduction. He bears myriad honors, including a Knight of Arts and Letters citation from the French minister of culture, but his greatest rewards are the adoration of an international audience, and the faith his nation's government places in his socio-political integrity.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

O Eterno Deus Mu Dança (WEA Latina, 1989); Parabolic (WEA Latina, 1991); Tropicalia 2 (Nonesuch, 1993); Acoustic (Atlantic, 1994); Indigo Blue (Terrascape, 1997); Quanta (Atlantic, 1998); O Sol de Oslo (Blue Jackel, 1998); O Viramundo (Ao Vivo) (Poly-Gram, 1998); Gil and Milton (Atlantic, 2001); Me, You, Them (Atlantic, 2001); Kaya N' Gan Daya (WEA, 2002); Palco (WEA, 2002). With Carlin-hos Brown: Alfagamabetizado (1997). With João Donato: João Donato Songbook, Vol. 3 (1999). With Lalo Guerrero: Papa's Dream (Jarana, 1995). With Ernie Watts: Afoxé (CTI, 1991).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

C. McGowan and R. Pessanha, The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova and the Popular Music of Brazil (New York, 1991).

WEBSITES:

www.gilbertogil.com.br; www.thebraziliansound.com/caetano.htm.

howard mandel

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"Gil, Gilberto." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved May 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/gil-gilberto