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Gilberto Gil is an internationally known Afro-Brazilian musician. He was born on June 29, 1942 in Salvador, which is on the Brazilian coast. His childhood was spent in the countryside, where he developed an early interest in music. He listened to all kinds of music available to him and began to teach himself to play instruments such as the drums and accordian.

He returned to the city to go to college, where he met several musicians he would play and record with over the years. While there, Gil heard Joao Gilberto on the radio, which inspired him to learn to play the guitar. He made his first recording in 1962, and has been musically active since then.

Gil was one of the leaders of the Tropicalismo movement, which paid an important part in shaping Brazilian art and music. After the military coup in 1964, the new government was somewhat worried by this movement, and Gil was held in jail for several months for being "different, unexpected, daring, bold, adventurous, unknown, and dangerous," in his own words. After he was released, he was exiled from 1969-72 and spent the time in England further pursuing his music with different musicians.

Gilberto Gil's music combines many different styles, ranging from samba, to reggae, to folk, to rock, to pop, to traditional Brazilian, and more. His songs are about many things, including human nature, philosophy, and the relation between science and art, and most have interesting or controversial ideas or messages or a political edge. Gil's music is hard to classify, but he has met with success worldwide and has continued to devote himself to writing, recording, and performing his music for over 40 years.

As of 2003, Gil has been named the Culture Minister of Brazil by the recently-elected president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva:

"Gil's appointment is seen as demonstration of Silva's closeness to Brazilian cultural roots and its large, poor black population. Before Gil, the only black appointed as a cabinet minister was soccer star Pelé, by outgoing President Fernando Henrique Cardoso." - from the Associated Press

Thanks are in order for anyone who left comments or suggested updates, including gwm, who informed me of Gil's current position as Culture Minister (and whose homenode has a small collection of nodes on things Brazilian, for further reading).

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