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Gilberto Gil

A leader of the tropicalia movement in Brazil in 1967 and 1968, along with artists like Caetano Veloso and Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil and other musicians mixed native styles with rock and folk instruments. Because Gil fused samba, salsa, and bossa nova with rock and folk music, he's recognized today as one of the pioneers in world music. A multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, Gil joined his first group, the Desafinados, in the mid-'50s and by the beginning of the 1960s was earning a living as a jingle composer. Although known mostly as a guitarist, he also holds his own with drums, trumpet, and accordion.

He began playing the accordion when he was eight, and he listened to street singers in the marketplace around Salvador. By the end of the 1950s, Gil was studying business administration at Salvador's Federal University and playing with a group called Os Desafinados. At this time he heard singer and guitarist João Gilberto on the radio and was so impressed that he immediately bought a guitar and learned to play and sing the bossa nova. He spent the early '60s composing songs for TV ads, and in 1964, he was in Nos Por Exemplo, a show of bossa nova and traditional Brazilian songs directed by Caetano Veloso. In 1965, he moved to São Paulo, and after singing and playing in various shows, he had his first hit when singer Elis Regina recorded his song "Louvacao." He began to establish himself as a singer of protest songs, and he became very popular with Brazilians involved in the Tropicalia movement, which opened up native Brazilian folk music to other kinds of influences. The success of the single "Louvacao" inspired Gil to record an album of his own material with the same title.

Gil made his first self-titled recording in 1966, but his first hit single didn't come about until 1969, with "Aquele Abraco." His musical fusion of bossa nova, samba, and other styles was so revolutionary it frightened the country's military dictatorship into arresting him, and that's when he headed to Great Britain. (He and Caetano Veloso were placed in solitary confinement while authorities figured out what they wanted to do with the pair.) After three years in England, where he had the chance to work with groups like Pink Floyd, Yes, the Incredible String Band, and Rod Stewart's band in London clubs, he returned to Brazil in 1972. He recorded Expresso 2222, which spurred two hit singles in Brazil, "Back in Bahia" and "Oriente." After playing at the Midem Festival in France in 1973, Gil recorded Ao Vivo in 1974. A year later, he recorded with Jorge Ben for the album Gil & Jorge. In 1976, he toured with Veloso, Gal Costa, and Maria Bethânia and released the Doces Báraros album.

For most of the rest of the 1970s, he recorded for a variety of Brazilian record companies until signing an international deal with the WEA group of labels in 1977. He toured U.S. colleges in 1978 and firmly established his place in the international jazz world with his albums Nightingale (1978) and Realce (1979) . He also released a double live album in 1978, Gilberto Gil ao Vivo em Montreux, recorded during his performances at the jazz and blues festival in Switzerland. In 1980, Gil teamed up with reggae musician Jimmy Cliff. The pair toured Brazil, and Gil's cover of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" climbed to number one, selling 700,000 copies. Gil followed up in 1981 with Luar (A Gente Precisa Ver o Luar), one of his most acclaimed recordings. In 1982, he performed again at the Montreux festival, but this time with Jimmy Cliff. He followed up with Um Banda Um (1982), Extra (1983), and Raça Humana (1984), the last recorded with Bob Marley's Wailers.

In the late '70s, Gil became a prominent spokesman for the black consciousness movement then taking place in Brazil. In 1982, he had huge crossover success with "Palco," which became popular in dance clubs and led to stadium tours of Europe. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., he would play mid-sized jazz clubs in New York City and Los Angeles. Gil celebrated his then two-decade career in 1985 with the album Dia Dorim Noite Neon (released in the U.S.), and released Gilberto Gil em Concerto, recorded live in Rio, in 1987. The early '90s saw Gil continuing his involvement in social and political causes in his native country, finding widespread support for his political stances, and he was elected to office in the port city of Salvador (aka the Black Rome), his hometown. In 2003, Gil began serving as Brazil's Minister of Culture, and two years later, he received Sweden's Polar Music Prize and a Légion d'Honneur from the French government. Gil continued to maintain a recording career throughout the '90s and 2000s, including the 2008 release Banda Larga Cordel. In 2008, Gil stepped down from his position as Minister of Culture for health reasons. Two years later, he returned to music, releasing Fé Na Festa in 2010. ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

:)
Gil e demais!!!
adorei !
I grew up listening to this mans voice. Im only 19, but my mother was obsessed with brazilian music, and had most of his albums. I remember dancing around to palco with her, along with a bunch of his other songs, and thanks to her, i still have strong ties to brazilian music, and enjoy listening to it today.
Love it.
@kjames747: Pfft! Mojitos are good, but they're Cuban. This music is in Brazilian Portuguese, so sit back and enjoy a caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil.
boricua-mami 7 8
I Love it!!!!
kjames747
Transports me. Bring me a mojito and pass the sunblock
ivaldo6
Best Internationa l Artist ever! Adoro este cara! Love his way of rockin' it out. Gil with Veloso, Buarque or any of the Tropicalista s is pure Heaven to me. The rebellion with the sheer creativity and beauty is enuf to make u understand that scene in American Beauty. The Brazilians are on to something...
Gil rocks ele e otimo
Icon!
Love this!!!!! Stephanie USA
Muito boa!
dklebenov
wish more americans (and other non-brazilia n s ) knew about and appreciated this musician who is truly a treasure not just to brazil, but for the entire world. i usually compare gilberto to stevie wonder in terms of a musician of unparalleled skill and spiritual depth who represents something unique and deep-seated in their respective cultures. gilbe
If he comes to a theater near you, you should jump at the opportunity of seeing him live. He is sooo great. Even better live than on CD. One of those artists that makes you want to cry with emotion.
eric_myracle
Gilberto Gil rocks
Thank you Gilberto for making the world more beautiful.
Gil tudo de mpb da melhor!!!
Gil is phenomenal! As an artist, a person, a minister of culture.... lol Amooooo!!!!
ayanna1456
I love Brazilian music. I dont speak Portuguese either but any music made from the soul, I can listen to.
iam loving the sounds of brazil. good mixture of tunes and instuments.. i dont spealk portuguese just english from brooklyn, ny.... holla
dklebenov
Gil rocks!
my favorite! valeu gil ! te amo!
Brasil na cabeca!!!
A.w.e.s.o.m. e music!
Brazilian icon!..... made my generation (and many others to come) "delirius" with his divines songs. Valeu Gil!!!!!!!!

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