Gilberto Gil was born in 1942 in Salvador, Brazil (Bahia). Looking at the dread-locked picture of Gilberto Gil, it's surprising to realize that this is the visage of Brazil's Minister of Culture. But Gilberto Gil has made a habit of demolishing preconceived ideas, from his early days as co-founder of the 'tropicalia' musical movement (with Caetano Veloso) to political activism as an ardent supporter of Brazil's 'Green Party'. And always he focused on the music, releasing 40+ albums in his 4 decade long career.
Gilberto Gil Moreira was fascinated by music at an early age. By the time he was 7 he had taught himself to play the trumpet and spent hours listening to street singers at the local marketplace. Gil then switched to accordion; by the time he was a teenager, he was performing with his first musical group, Os Desfinados. But even the accordion was dropped after hearing Joao Gilberto play the guitar to the smooth rhythms of a new type of music that was starting to gain in popularity - a musical style called bossa nova that was nudging more traditional samba out of first-place on the nation's airwaves.
Gil picked-up the guitar and immersed himself in bossa nova. He continued on to the University of Bahia, where he persued a business degree. While there, he met fellow musicians Caetano Veloso and Veloso's sister, Maria Bethania. Gil and Veloso quickly teamed-up. Having finished his degree and decided business was not for him, Gil delved more deeply into music.
"Domingo no Parque" (Sunday in the Park) was Gil's initial entry into tropicalia. It stirred up controversy with its politically charged lyrics. Gil had also written a hit song for future icon, Elis Regina. "Louvacao" did so well that Gil decided to record the song and subsequent album himself. Louvacao was his debut album, released in 1967.
In the last decade, Gilberto Gil has been reaping the rewards of his 4 musical decades. Among other honors, Gil's Quanta Live album won him a Grammy award for 'Best World Music Album' in 1998; he took home another Grammy in 2005 for Electracustico. He also is this year (2003) the Latin Recording Academy's 'Person of the Year' in 2003, a real big Honor.
From the beginning's of his career, Gilberto Gil has been concerned with Brazil's political climate. Associated with the 'Green Party' (Partido Verde), Gil won a seat on Salvador's city council in 1988.
In 2003, Brazilian president Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva named Gil his Minister of Culture. In an interview with Newsweek, Gil said that "Brazil's image abroad is associated with popular culture: samba, the way we play football. But what we need to do is break the prejudice that popular culture is a lesser product."