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Gilberto Gil (Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira) is a singer, guitarist and composer, born on June 26, 1942 in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. His music has influences from different origins, including rock, reggae and diverse elements of Brazilian popular music (mainly samba and bossa nova). He was a key figure in the musical movement called tropicalism.
He is also known for his political activity. In 2003 he was appointed by the Minister of Culture of Brazil, Lula da Silva, a position he held until 2008.
Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira was born June 26, 1942, into a middle class family. His father was José Gil (doctor), and his mother Claudina Passos Gil Moreira (teacher), although he was born in Salvador de Bahía, he lived his early years in Ituaçu, a small town in Bahia (Brazil) 530 km from the capital of the state. In December 1951 he moved to Salvador to the house of a paternal aunt to finish primary school.
Between 1959 and 1961 he is part of the Os Desafinados group, playing the accordion. In 1961 he took the guitar as his main instrument, influenced by João Gilberto and bossa nova.In the early years of the ’60s he dedicated himself to composing jingles while working as a tax collector. The first recording of his music is in 1962 on a disc called “Bem devagar”, with the vocal ensemble As Três Baianas, where he plays the accordion. The first recording of Gil singing is also that year, in a disc with music made for Petrobras, where he plays “Coça, coça, lacerdinha”.
In 1963 he recorded his first EP: Gilberto Gil – his music, sua interpreção, which included four of his songs.That year he meets Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethânia, Gal Costa and Tom Zé, with whom he forms a group that would be fundamental for the history of tropicalism.
In 1965 he moved to São Paulo, and that year achieved national significance when his song Louvação became a hit when it was recorded by Elis Regina, and he gained prominence on television, on the program “O fino da bossa”, conducted by Elis Regina. He decided to quit his job in 1966 to dedicate himself to music and moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he recorded his first LP, which was released in 1967: Louvação.
In February 1969, at the peak of tropicalism, Gilberto Gil was put in prison by the Brazilian dictatorship together with Caetano Veloso. They are released in July and forced into exile. They leave for London, but not before setting up a farewell show, from which the album Barra 69 will be released. In August the single Aquele abraco is released, which would be the first great success as a singer from Bahia. his third solo album (that like the previous one and the following one, took its own name). During his exile he works with members of important bands such as Pink Floyd, Yes or The Incredible String Band, and also writes the soundtrack of the movie Copacabana mon amour and records his fourth solo album.
In January 1972 he returns to his country. During the following years he made several national tours and recorded multiple solo albums (Expresso 2222, Refazenda and Refavela being the most important) and with other artists (Temporada de Verão and Doces Barbaros, among others).
During the European summer of 1978 he toured the old continent, something that will be repeated almost every year.The discs Nightingale (1978) and Realce (1979) confirm him as a world figure in the genre of jazz. In 1979 he released an EP that contained Não chore mais, a version of No woman, no cry (by B. Vincent). That song becomes its biggest sales success: the album sold 750 thousand copies.
In the ’80s his fame continues to grow, repeating the national and world tours, and recording a large number of albums. He works with a large number of artists in his albums and tours (Jimmy Cliff, The Wailers, João Gilberto, Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethânia, among many others) In 1985 he celebrates his twenty years of career with a great event organized by the poet Waly Salomão, who was called “Gil, 20 years-light”, lasted a week and the most important representatives of Brazilian popular music and rock of that country participated.
In 1987 Gil is elected as president of the “Fundação Gregório de Matos”, something like the Municipal Secretariat of Culture of Salvador, a position he would occupy until the following year, when he leaves to pursue his campaign as a candidate to councilor for the Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB). He was elected to that function, which he held until 1992, and his concern for environmental issues was highlighted, leaving the PMDB to join the Green Party in 1990.
Despite his political activity, he never abandons music. The decade of the 90s is marked by the large number of awards and recognitions that he receives, during which he continues to record several albums, among which stand out Parabolicamara, MTV Unplugged, Tropicalia 2 (with Caetano Veloso) and Quanta gente veio ver (which receives the Grammy Award in 1999 as “Best album of world music”).
When Luis Ignácio Lula da Silva took over the presidency of Brazil in January 2003, he chose Gilberto Gil to be Minister of Culture in his government, a position he resigned in 2008. His mandate was characterized by an anthropological perspective of the culture that stimulates cultural diversity and citizen participation in public policies, as well as its management was known internationally for its defense of free software and for its attempts to flexibilize copyright, and defended the right of access to culture. as a fundamental right, a principle that he presented in his inauguration speech as a minister:
“The State does not make culture, the State creates the conditions of universal access to symbolic goods, the conditions of creation and production of cultural goods, whether artifacts or mentefacts.It is because access to culture is a basic right of citizenship, such as the right to education, health, the healthy environment. “
While he was minister he continued to dedicate himself to music, even reaching his Eletroacoustic album to win the Grammy Award in 2006; however, most of the albums released by him at that time were live. In 2008, after his resignation from the ministry, he released his first album with his own and previously unreleased songs since 1997: Banda larga cordel.In 2009 he released the BandaDois CD / DVD, recorded live; the following year he releases Fé na festa, whose live version wins the Latin Grammy Award in 2011 as “Best Album of Brazilian Roots Music – Regional Nativa”.
In 2012 the film Viramundo is launched, directed by the Swiss Pierre-Yves Borgeaud, a documentary in which Gilberto Gil travels the southern hemisphere of our planet, starting from Bahia (Brazil) and passing through Australia, South Africa and the Amazon. In March 2012 Gil recorded with the Orquesta Petrobras Sinfônica CD / DVD Concerto de Cordas & amp; Rhythm Machines at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, which leads to tours of Europe and South America.
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