Close
Conde Nast Traveler Concierge.com

« Learn to Paint, Taste Cheese on Vacation | Main | Functional Food at Bouley-Garcia »

July 01, 2008

Brazil's Minister of Culture Rocks

Gilberto Gil
Go Brazil with Gilberto Gil
AP Photo

by John Oseid

Last week in Times Square, I had a riveting meeting with an important Brazilian cabinet official. Well, me and hundreds of other people jumping up and down to the guitar licks of a legendary singer/songwriter who just happens to moonlight as the Minister of Culture.

With a couple of capoeira-like swings of the leg, lean and dread-locked Gilberto Gil flew around the Nokia Theater stage like no sixty-six year old you've ever seen. A few samba hip shimmies were enough to bring the Brazilian-packed crowd to a frenzy. From falsetto scatting to a bit of Pink Floyd-era rock and a reggae version of the "Girl from Ipanema," he ranged freely throughout the music map. The bilingual bureaucrat bracketed his songs with messages on the need for global change and new perspectives.

Gil's legacy is framed in a fine BBC documentary on Tropicalia, the late-sixties multifarious cultural movement he led with fellow-Bahian Caetano Veloso and others. Street demonstrators and musicians, Tropicalistas mixed rock, folk and bossa nova. Too avant-garde for the military government of the day, though, they were arrested as subversives and sent into exile.

In his 2003 memoir Tropical Truth, Caetano Veloso tells the story of their Beatles-era London exile in great detail. The movement's signature album Tropicália: ou Panis et Circenses was reissued earlier this year. (My personal favorite is the joyous sitar-inflected song "Batmacumba.")

If he made his fame almost forty years ago, one of Gil's loveliest albums is his 1997 Quanta, the live version of which won him a Grammy. The Brazilian language doesn't get any more lush than in his song "Dança de Shiva." The album's exploration of science and the arts foreshadows his deep involvement with bringing Brazil into the digital age.

Gil is now touring in support of his new album Banda Larga, which means broadband and is, not surprisingly, all about connecting. He has a few U.S. dates remaining this week (San Francisco, Boulder, and Miami), or, if you want to find him touring Europe this summer, go to his website.

Insider's tip: Brazilian Portuguese comes in many varieties and Gil's name isn't pronounced like you might think. Call him roughly Jeeoo-bayr-too Jeeoo, and you'll bring a smile to a Brazilian.

Further reading:
* For a discussion of the Minister of Culture's current role in the democratization of intellectual property, see Wired magazine.
* Check out Conde Nast Traveler's May 2008 story on Northeast Brazil.

Comments

click to post a comment >

About this blog
The editors at Conde Nast Traveler answer questions and share travel secrets, tips, and dispatches

Twitter: CNTraveler
RSS: RSS Feed
Email: Daily updates

WEEKLY TOPICS
RECENT COMMENTS


UPDATES ON TWITTER

TRAVEL BLOGS
Featured in Alltop

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

EXPRESS SIGN-UP Sign up for one of our exciting panels and receive the latest news, travel offers, and event invitations from Condé Nast Traveler and our valued advertising partners.

http://www.cntpromo.com/ex.asp
Traveler Magazine

My Concierge.com

Advertisement

Advertisement

I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement, Privacy Policy, and Mobile Terms and Conditions.

 
iPhone App:

Create personalized postcards out of your favorite travel photos!

Learn More ›
Subscribe to our free RSS feeds:

Get the latest destinations picks, hot hotel lists, travel deals and blog posts automatically added to your newsreader or your personalized homepage.

Learn More ›

Special Advertisement

Contests, Sweepstakes & Promotions