The University Musical Society already blessed us once with a concert-opportunity-of-a-lifetime last fall with Alice Coltrane, and this spring, they’re back at it again.

Drew Philp
Coolest. Minister. of. Culture. Ever. (Courtesy of Gege Produ

Gilberto Gil (pronounced Jeel-ber-toh Jeel) will make his only Midwestern appearance tomorrow at 8 p.m. at Hill Auditorium, a singular event not to be missed. It’s pretty rare that a man often known as the Paul McCartney of Brazil (to Caetano Veloso’s John Lennon) takes the time out of his jammed schedule as Brazil’s Minister of Culture to play at a college campus.

Gil began his career in the ’50s by joining a band, The Desifinados, but it wasn’t until he heard Joao Gilberto on the radio and moved to Sao Paolo that he found success. His first big break found him showcased in a show directed by Caetano Veloso about Bossa Nova, “Nos Por Exemplo,” and it wasn’t too long after that Ellis Regina made his song “Louvacao” a hit.

His second album, 1968’s Frevo Resgado, was an instant classic. A fusion of British invasion and Brazilian influences, with Gil backed by Os Mutantes on some tracks, the album served as the starting point for the prolific and revolutionary singer-songwriter’s impressive run of albums. Immersed in the protest folk-psychedelia movement of the late ’60s, dubbed “Tropicalia” after a Caetano Veloso song, Gil was deported along with Veloso to Great Britain after his hit song “Aquele Abraco” scared the military regime into arresting him.

While in England, the respect he garnered from his musical peers resulted in gigs with superstar bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, Rod Stewart and the Incredible String Band. His subsequent return to Brazil in 1972 spurred a series of hits that kept his pioneering world music at the top of the charts, and his message of black consciousness to an ever-increasing audience. Top-selling albums like Cerebro Electronico, Nega and Expresso 2222 kept pushing the envelope and developing Gil’s unique brand of Brazilian funk, culminating in a masterpiece-like collaboration with fellow Brazlilian music titan Jorge Ben titled simply, Gil E Jorge, in 1975.

Thirty plus years later finds Gil far from his days in solitary confinement. Now Brazil’s Minister of Culture for five years, he’s been spreading Brazilian music throughout the world, to adoring audiences from South America to Europe. His signature dreadlocks seem to always be accompanied by a smile, and what’s not to be happy about when you’ve sold five million albums and are considered a living legend?

Still, at 64, Gil isn’t hitting the road quite as often, and trips to America, specifically concerts between the coasts, are few and far between. Hill Auditorium’s intimate acoustics ought to compliment his joyous and refined compositions quite well, and with tickets as cheap $10, you can’t afford not to go.

Gilberto Gil

$10 – $60

At Hill Auditorium

fine brazilian exports
Some other notable music styles and trends from Brazil:
Bossa Nova
Baile Funka
and Funk Carioc

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *