Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil

The mentor

Published in 2013

Legendary singer, songwriter and guitarist Gilberto Gil is one of Brazil’s most influential musicians. Known for his musical innovation and melodic richness, Gil has released 52 albums, five of them platinum, and sold more than four million records, 12 of them gold. Over nearly half a century, his music has incorporated a blend of styles, including bossa nova, baião, samba, reggae and rock, and an eclectic range of influences from the Beatles to Jimi Hendrix.

“Since my childhood, music has been my passion, and to work with passion is a dream,” says Gil, whose interest in music as a precocious three-year-old was encouraged by his mother. The year 1963 marked a turning point when he met guitarist and singer Caetano Veloso at the Federal University of Bahia and the two began their long-time collaboration with the creation of Tropicalism. This artistic movement, deemed threatening for its controversial political content by the then military dictatorship, led to their imprisonment and later exile in England.

Upon his return from London in 1972, Gil began forging his renowned style in a string of landmark albums and performances that garnered international attention from the time of his appearance at the 1978 Montreux Jazz Festival. Since then, he has won 10 Grammy Awards, for albums such as Quanta Live (1999) and Eletracústico (2005), and, most recently, for his latest album, Fé na Festa (2010). In recent years, he has been touring, often with his son Bem, bringing his distinctive sound to audiences on five continents.

Gil’s work as an environmentalist and politician has paralleled his musical career. In 2003, he was named Brazil’s Minister of Culture, a post he held until 2008. Among his many honours, he was named UNESCO Artist for Peace in 1999 and was awarded both Sweden’s Polar Music Prize and the French Légion d’honneur in 2005.