His career began with the accordion, still in the 50s, inspired by Luiz Gonzaga, the sound of the radio and the religious parades in town. Within the Northeast he explored a folk country sound, until Joao Gilberto emerges, the bossa nova, as well as Dorival Caymmi, with its coastal beach sound, so different from that world of wilderness he was used to. Influenced, Gil leaves aside the accordion and holds the guitar, then the electric guitar, which harbors the particular harmonies of his work until today. Since his early songs he portrayed his country, and his musicianship took very personal rhythmic and melodic forms. His first LP, “Louvação” (Worship) , released in 1967, concentrated his particular ways of translating regional components into music, as seen in the renown songs Louvação, Procissão, Roda and Viramundo.
In 1963 after meeting his friend Caetano Veloso at the University of Bahia, Gil begins with Caetano a partnership and a movement that contemplated and internationalized music, theater, visual arts, cinema and all of Brazilian art. The so-called Tropicalia, or Tropicalist movement, involves talented and plural artists such as Gal Costa, Tom Ze, Nara Leão and others. The movement discontents the current dictatorship, which considers it harmful to society with its libertarian actions and creations, and eventually exiled partners.
The exile in London contributes to an even greater influence of the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and the entire pop world at the time that loomed in the work of Gil, who also makes a record in London, with songs in Portuguese and English.
Upon returning to Brazil, Gil continues a rich phonographic production, which lasts until today. There are 52 albums in total, with 4 million copies sold, having been awarded nine Grammy’s. Gil has created a vast and comprehensive video and musical body of work.
Always willing to undertake national and international tours for each new project, Gil´s presence is confirmed each year in major festivals and theaters in Europe, and he has made several tours throughout the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. He has a captive audience for his concerts abroad, since the first international performances in 1971,and from his remarkable participation in the Montreux Festival in 1978.
In 2002, after his appointment as Minister of Culture, Gil also starts circulating the international socio-political, environmental and cultural landscape. Under the Ministry in particular, he designs and implements new policies ranging from the creation of the Pontos de Cultura (cultural hotspots) to the lead presence of Brazil in forums, seminars and conferences worldwide, working on topics ranging from new technology, copyright, cultural development, cultural diversity and the place of southern countries in the globalized world.
His multiple activities have been recognized by various nations, who have already named him the Artist for Peace by UNESCO in 1999, Ambassador of FAO, and gave him honors and awards as diverse as Légion d’Honneur from France and Sweden’s Polar Music Prize among others.
A unique musical ambassador, powered by a firm cultural conviction.