Gilberto Gil Biography

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Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira, 29 June 1942, Salvador, Brazil. Singer-songwriter Gil - also a competent accordionist, guitarist, drummer and trumpeter - joined his first group, the Desafinados, in the mid-50s, and by the start of the 60s was making a living composing jingles for television commercials. Along with Caetano Veloso, Gil was one of the leading lights of the tropicalismo cultural music movement, which stirred up a heady and controversial brew of native genres and modern rock instrumentation. Gil recorded his self-titled debut album in 1966, but he did not enjoy his first single hit until 1969’s ‘Aquele Abraco’. Popular with young Brazilians, the oblique lyrics of tropicalismo artists criticised the military regime that had held power in Brazil since 1964’s coup, but in 1971 the music’s figureheads, Gil and Veloso, were forced into temporary exile in the UK. Gil returned in 1972, and the same year’s Expresso 2222 produced two hit singles with ‘Back In Bahia’ and ‘Oriente’. In 1974 he teamed up with Jorge Ben for the album Gil And Jorge. A prolific recording and performing artist throughout the 70s and 80s, Gil signed an international recording contract with the WEA Records group of labels in 1978, achieving two UK and US successes with Nightingale and Realce. His biggest crossover success to date was 1982’s ‘Palco’, eased into dancefloor acceptance with its Earth, Wind And Fire inspired arrangement. Gil also became actively involved in Brazilian politics as a member of the Green Party, and in 2002 accepted an offer to become the country’s culture minister in president Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva’s new government.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.