Gilberto Gil's Other International Encounters

Stevie Wonder, George Harrison, Jimmy Cliff, Sting, and Bob Marley's family are just some of the international names the Brazilian has spent time with.

By Instituto Gilberto Gil

Text: Chris Fuscaldo, journalist and musical researcher

Gilberto Gil em Paris durante seu exílio (1970)Instituto Gilberto Gil

London, London, por Gilberto Gil e Caetano Veloso ao vivo

The Experience of Exile

Gilberto Gil's international career started early in 1969, when he had to leave Brazil and move to the UK following his imprisonment under the military dictatorship in December 1968.

Gilberto Gil pelas ruas de Paris na época de seu exílio (1970)Instituto Gilberto Gil

This period of exile led Gil to engage more fully with music from other countries. 

Gilberto Gil durante o exílio em Londres (1971)Instituto Gilberto Gil

His cowriting partner Caetano Veloso—who joined him in prison and in exile—spent some of his time in London feeling depressed, but Gil used the experience to learn more about the local culture. They returned home in 1972, but Gil went on to have regular contact with artists from all over the world.

Gilberto Gil durante o exílio (1971)Instituto Gilberto Gil

From concerts in the US to recording in Jamaica, he would experience many different musical interactions.

Caderno de rascunhos e composições de Gilberto Gil Letra da música I Just Called To Say I Love You, de Stevie Wonder, escrita por Gilberto GilInstituto Gilberto Gil

Cover Versions in Portuguese

Throughout his career, Gilberto Gil has had the chance to record cover versions of some classics, as well as new hits from the world of music. One song he chose to cover was Stevie Wonder's I Just Called To Say I Love You, which became Só Chamei Porque Te Amo in Portuguese. 

Versão em português da música Seamisai, um feat de Gilberto Gil com a cantora Laura Pausini página 1 (2002)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gil also reworked Italian singer Laura Pausini's hit Seamisai, with his Portuguese version Sei Que Me Amavas.

Versão em português da música Seamisai, um feat de Gilberto Gil com a cantora Laura Pausini Página 2 (2002)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Sting e Elton John em show beneficente no Carnegie Hall, em Nova Iorque (1991)Instituto Gilberto Gil

With Sting and Elton John in New York

Sting once came to Brazil and, when he left, took the Kayapo tribal chief Raoni Metuktire with him to take his fight for indigenous people and the Amazon Rainforest around the world.

Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Sting e Elton John em show beneficente no Carnegie Hall, em Nova Iorque (1991)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Artists had started getting involved in environmental activism in the early 1990s. In March 1991, Sting, who was lead singer of The Police, joined forces with Elton John, Gilberto Gil, the singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso, and the Brazilian conductor Tom Jobim.

Gilberto Gil e o cantor Sting na década de 1980Instituto Gilberto Gil

Together they staged a benefit concert at New York's Carnegie Hall to raise funds for the Fundação Mata Virgem (Virgin Forest Foundation). By this time, Gil was used to doing international tours and he arrived in the US after a stint in Europe.

Gilberto Gil e o guitarrista George HarrisonInstituto Gilberto Gil

A Brush With The Beatles

In the early 1990s, Gil had the chance to make music with the ex-Beatle George Harrison, whom he met in 1992 during a visit to the UK. 


Gil had just released his album Parabolicamará and was in the middle of a European tour of 20 acoustic concerts with just vocals and guitar. When the tour reached the UK, Gil bumped into Harrison, who was an idol of his, and was able to show him some of his music.

Gilberto Gil com o cineasta italiano Federico Fellini no encontro que reuniu Nelson Motta, Sônia Braga e Flora Gil na Itália (1984)Instituto Gilberto Gil

With Fellini In Italy

Gilberto Gil has always been very interested in literature and cinema, so no wonder it was a dream come true when he met Federico Fellini—a filmmaker whose career Gil had followed closely

Federico Fellini no dia do encontro com Gilberto Gil no Grand Hotel di Rimini (1984)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gil met Fellini in his hometown Rimini, on the Adriatic coast in Italy's Emilia-Romagna region. 

Flora Gil, Gianni Minà, Max De Tomassi, Nelson Motta, Sônia Braga, Fiammetta Profili e Norma Giacchero em encontro com o cineasta Federico Fellini (1984)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Followed by his wife Flora Gil the singer and song writer participated together with the actress Sônia Braga and the producer Nelson Motta of the Italian TV show Blitz to talk about Brazilian music.

Flora Gil, Nelson Motta, Gilberto Gil e Fellini, durante a turnê do músico pela Europa (1983)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Two days before the shooting, the famous host Gianni Minà orgnized a meeting between his friend Federico Fellini close to the place where the show took place, the  Grand Hotel di Rimini.

Gianni Minà, Flora Gil, Nelson Motta, Gilberto Gil e Sônia Braga (de costas) em encontro com Federico Fellini no Grand Hotel di Rimini (1984)Instituto Gilberto Gil

There, Fellini's assistants, Norma Giacchero and Fiammetta Profili, were also lodged and participated in the show too. The movie director is author of La Dolce Vita and Satyricon.

Gilberto Gil e James Taylor nos bastidores do show do artista baiano (1986)Instituto Gilberto Gil

You have got a friend

In January 1985, the American singer-songwriter James Taylor arrived in Rio de Janeiro to perform at the first edition of what would become Brazil's biggest music festival, Rock in Rio.

Gilberto Gil e James Taylor nos bastidores do show do músico baiano (1985)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil was to perform at the same festival and, on learning that he would be on stage the same day as the writer of the hit song You've Got a Friend and the reference for mixing country-gospel-rock, he went to visit him in his dressing room.

Gilberto Gil, Flora Gil e James Taylor nos bastidores de show do músico baiano (1985)Instituto Gilberto Gil

On January 13, the two artists performed their music in front of 250,000 people. After their shows, it was Gil who welcomed Taylor into his dressing room.

Credits: Story

Research, writing and structure: Chris Fuscaldo

General credits

Editing and curation: Chris Fuscaldo / Garota FM 
Research - music: Ceci Alves, Chris Fuscaldo, Laura Zandonadi and Ricardo Schott 
Research - Ministry of Culture: Carla Peixoto, Ceci Alves and Chris Fuscaldo 
Subtitles: Anna Durão, Carla Peixoto, Ceci Alves, Chris Fuscaldo, Daniel Malafaia, Fernanda Pimentel, Gilberto Porcidonio, Kamille Viola, Laura Zandonadi, Lucas Vieira, Luciana Azevedo, Patrícia Sá Rêgo, Pedro Felitte, Ricardo Schott, Roni Filgueiras e Tito Guedes 
Data editing: Isabela Marinho and Marco Konopacki
Gege Produções Review: Cristina Doria
Acknowledgements: Gege Produções, Gilberto Gil, Flora Gil, Gilda Mattoso, Fafá Giordano, Maria Gil, Meny Lopes, Nelci Frangipani, Cristina Doria, Daniella Bartolini e todos os autores das fotos e personagens da história
All media: Instituto Gilberto Gil 

*Every effort has been made to credit the images, audios and videos and correctly tell the story about the episodes narrated in the exhibitions. If you find errors and/or omissions, please contact us by email

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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