Lula: "No other country in the world had a culture minister like my dear Gil"

Brazil's ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva talks about what it was like to work alongside the minister-cum-performer who changed the way the country thought about culture and cultural management forever.

By Instituto Gilberto Gil

Interview: Ceci Alves (filmmaker and journalist), Chris Fuscaldo (writer and journalist), and Marco Konopacki (political scientist)

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva talks about the period when Gilberto Gil was Minister of Culture in an exclusive statement to Google Arts & Culture (2021-12-15)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Lula's comments

The ex-president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva talks about how he asked the singer from Bahia to take up the post of culture minister in his government and what it was like working with him from 2003 to 2008. 

When did you first meet Gilberto Gil and what was your first impression of him?

Documents from Gilberto Gil's Private ArchiveInstituto Gilberto Gil

As well as following Gil's musical career—in his battle with the military dictatorship, in leaving the country—I admired his political stances: his attempt to get into the Brazilian Green Party; his candidacy for city councilor, for the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party in Bahia (1988) ...

And I wanted to have an easygoing guy at the Ministry of Culture. Someone who was pleasant, charming, who didn't have washed-up ideas, a guy who was willing to talk. I thought about a lot of people in show business. 

Gil's ideas were closer to the Brazilian Green Party, and he worked with Juca (Ferreira), who was one of their big supporters. And I said: "Do you know something? I'm going to try talking to Gil to see if he'll agree to being culture minister." 

Documents from Gilberto Gil's Private ArchiveInstituto Gilberto Gil

So I remember I called Gil from the Granja do Torto [the official president's residence] and I said: "Listen, Gil, I'm thinking of making you culture minister, yeah?" I still didn't have any idea about how much salary people would get. 

And, throughout my time in government, the president's salary was 10,000 Brazilian Reais [around 2,000 US Dollars] and Gil's salary, as a minister, was 8,000 Reais [around 1,600 US Dollars], you see? (laughter)  But I didn't know that!  Gil was reluctant and I started showing him that it was important, that it was a challenge. 

As well as being a celebrity from the world of culture, from show business, he was a guy who had a history of political engagement. I feel it would be something new for him to tackle all the obstacles, in a country where the Ministry of Culture had never been treated with respect.

What made him accept your invitation?

Documents from Gilberto Gil's Private ArchiveInstituto Gilberto Gil

My dear comrade Gil accepted and I was delighted. I told Gil: "You'll be the minister and you'll be free to put together your own team." There was a huge battle going on in the Workers' Party (PT), there were a lot of people in the party who didn't want Gilberto Gil.

Documents from Gilberto Gil's Private ArchiveInstituto Gilberto Gil

A lot of people thought they were the right person for the job: "Why Gil and not me?" And I said: "Look, it's going to be Gil because I want Gil. Simple as that! I'm the president and I want Gil (laughter)!" Later on, there were some of our comrades who'd always stick up for Gil.

Marisa Lula da Silva, Sérgio Mamberti e Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, em encontro com artistas.Instituto Gilberto Gil

One of those was the great Sérgio Mamberti. He fought with the party members, and he fought, he really fought, he worked with Gil for a long time … Right up until he died, Sérgio was someone who admired Gil, who respected what Gil did at the Ministry … That's just how he was.

Gil held out and did a fair amount of work but he finally ended up leaving before the end of your second term. How did you feel when he left the Ministry of Culture?

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil durante a cerimônia de posse da equipe do seu ministério (2003-01-15)Instituto Gilberto Gil

I want you to know what a pleasure it is to be able to talk about my comrade Gil, someone who left the Ministry against my wishes … I didn't want him to go! 

O então ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil discursou na cerimônia de posse da equipe do seu Ministério (2003-01-15)Instituto Gilberto Gil

I'm going to tell you something, because it's relevant … I thought that he would be doing himself a disservice, but he was really worried, what he said to me was: "Mr President, I can't live on 8,000 Brazilian Reais! I've got a very large family and I have to help them out!" 

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil durante a cerimônia de posse da equipe do seu ministério (2003-01-15)Instituto Gilberto Gil

He wasn't comfortable cutting back on his concert schedule. I know what it's like: you've got a family, you've got expenses, you've got a lot of bills to pay. And, to prevent Gil leaving the government even earlier, I said: 

O então ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil na cerimônia de posse da equipe do seu Ministério (2003-01-15)Instituto Gilberto Gil

"Gil, buddy, this is what we're going to do: you're famous, you've got your concerts and shows, take yourself some vacation time in June, July and get yourself off over to Europe to earn a bit of money" (laughter). 

And it was great, because he was happier, more relaxed and every June or July, Gil would disappear for a month and go off to Europe. And so it was great. But, then, when he wanted to leave, I said: "Look, I'm not going to stop you." 

It meant that you no longer had Gil's easy-going nature close by …

Ministro Gilberto Gil conversa com o presidente Lula em reunião do Conselho de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social, no ano de 2005 (2005-03-10)Instituto Gilberto Gil

It's funny because I was thinking of going after another performer, another easy-going individual, someone easy to talk to, yeah? Gil is a relaxed guy. He never raises his voice. He says "no" as if he were saying yes and he says  "yes" as if he were saying no …

Ministro Gilberto Gil, presidente Lula e ministra Dilma Rousseff em reunião sobre Lei de Incentivo ao Esporte (2006-12-28)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Sometimes, when we were having a cabinet meeting, I'd be watching him, I knew that he wanted to ask for more money for culture. And, as there was so much whining about the lack of money in the meeting, he'd sometimes be too embarrassed to ask, I think … (laughter). 

You've talked about the difficulties you had in convincing people in the Workers' Party to accept Gil. But it wasn't just in the Workers' Party. Gil faced quite a lot of opposition, even in the artistic field. People in the theater complained, even Caetano was critical … People saw all of this. At the same time, there was another group of people who spoke up for him. Do you remember him talking about this, bringing up these issues?

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil e presidente da Funarte, Antonio Grassi, no lançamento do Canal Funarte (2006-07-08)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Take, for example, a comrade like Antônio Grassi, who was the head of the National Arts Foundation and who, at the beginning, wouldn't accept Gil. Then there's another comrade, Paulo Betti, who also had problems with him. But what I said to Gil was: 

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil e presidente da Funarte, Antonio Grassi, no lançamento do Canal Funarte (2006-07-08)Instituto Gilberto Gil

"There's no reason for you to get upset. This is my problem. You didn't ask to come to the Ministry, you didn't take any competitive entrance exam … I'm pointing this out to you because it's my duty. So, what you tell them is this:  'It's like this. If you don't want me here, have a word with Lula'" (laughter). 

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil na inauguração de Pontos de Cultura nos Estados Unidos (2006-01-16)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Later on, I think everyone started to like him. Because he was, actually, the person we needed in Culture. You've no idea of how much joy Gil gave us when we traveled with him, especially when it was to an African country. He'd sing, he'd dance … he was a great guy!

On these trips, what stood out to you most?

Ministro Gilberto Gil, Abdoulaye Wade, presidente do Senegal, e o presidente do Brasil, Lula, durante visita à Ilha de Gorée (2005-04-14)Instituto Gilberto Gil

There was this trip we made to Senegal. We went to visit the famous Gorée Island and we went to the so-called Door of No Return. It was really emotional because we went to the cells where they kept the women and children. 

Ministro Gilberto Gil, ao lado do presidente do Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, e do presidente do Brasil, Lula, cumprimenta a ministra Matilde Ribeiro, durante visita à Ilha de Gorée (2005-04-14)Instituto Gilberto Gil

There was Gil, Matilde (Ribeiro,  the Secretary for the Promotion of Racial Equality), me, and the president of Senegal (Abdoulaye Wade).

Gilberto Gil em sua visita ao Senegal (2004-11)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Suddenly, you open a door, and the sea is right there. That's why it's called the Door of No Return, because you'd go in through that door and straight out onto the boat that would take you to the slave ship, and you'd never return to your country again. 

Gilberto Gil em sua visita ao Senegal (2004-11)Instituto Gilberto Gil

And that was the day when I asked the African people for forgiveness for those 350 years of slavery, saying that our indebtedness to Africa was not simply for our culture, for our color, for our art, for our beauty, for everything we are. 

Ministro Gilberto Gil, ao lado do presidente do Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, e do presidente do Brasil, Lula, cumprimenta a ministra Matilde Ribeiro, durante visita à Ilha de Gorée (2005-04-14)Instituto Gilberto Gil

I said that it was very important, that we couldn't just erase it, measure it in money. Brazil has to pay this back through solidarity, through scientific and technological transfer. 

And then, Gil decided to sing La Lune de Gorée (written by him and José Carlos Capinam). Then everyone started crying their eyes out. I was crying, the president of Senegal was crying, Matilde was crying, it was so lovely.

In your opinion, was there anything he lacked?

Documents from Gilberto Gil's Private ArchiveInstituto Gilberto Gil

I think that if Brazil had had a culture minister with Gil's ability, with his easy-going nature, for ten, twelve years straight, we'd have revolutionized culture. I joke a lot with Gil: I dreamed of creating a Cultural Center.  

Documents from Gilberto Gil's Private ArchiveInstituto Gilberto Gil

What I wanted was for people in every city, or at least in some cities across Brazil, to have a Cultural Center, with space for a movie theater, for a theater, for dancing, for everything! 

O então ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil, o então presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, o então governador do Ceará, Lúcio Alcântara, e o então presidente do STJ, ministro Edson Vidigal, no lançamento do Programa Nacional do Patrimônio Imaterial, no Palácio do Planalto (2004-05-10)Instituto Gilberto Gil

It'd be a huge space, where all the kids from the neighborhood or surrounding area could go in the evenings, on Saturdays and Sundays … Where they'd have a skate park, everything that kids need. Petrobras, through the Department of Culture, was ready to finance 50 centers.

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil durante visita ao Ponto de Cultura 100 Dimensão (2006-03-23)Instituto Gilberto Gil

And, then, Gil went after our comrade Lelé [João da Gama Filgueiras Lima (1931-2014)], in Bahia, the great architect Lelé, who was the guy who did the architecture for the Sarah Kubitschek Hospital. 

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil, Célio Turino, secretário da Cidadania Cultural MinC, e Chico Simões, do Ponto de Cultura Invenção Brasileira, e público durante visita ao Ponto de Cultura 100 Dimensão (2006-03-23)Instituto Gilberto Gil

And so Gil went after him, and I think Juca did too. And Lelé said that he couldn't do it because he had a contract with the Sarah Hospital. So we were left waiting. But, in the meantime, Gil set up the cultural hotspots, which were really revolutionary. 

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil e TC Silva na abertura do evento Teia de Cultura e Cidadania, Mostra de Cultura do Brasil e Economia Solidária (2006-04-05)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Now, when I travel around Brazil, I realize just how great those little cultural hotspots were for my country, and for our people.

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil, Célio Turino, secretário da Cidadania Cultural MinC, e imprensa durante visita ao Ponto de Cultura 100 Dimensão (2006-03-23)Instituto Gilberto Gil

It's a shame they wrecked it all. We have a moral obligation to bring them back. I still dream of my Cultural Center but the cultural hotspots turned out to be a success. Even now, when I'm traveling around Brazil, people remember what they meant to young people.

This made Gil more popular, didn't it?

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil com o cacique Paulo Miriecuréu, políticos, imprensa, e representantes indígenas, da Unesco (Organização das Nações Unidas para a Educação, a Ciência e a Cultura), Unicef (Fundo das Nações Unidas para a Infância) e FAO (Organização das Nações Unidas para a Alimentação e a Agricultura) durante visita ao projeto de uma nova aldeia para os índios Bororo (2004-04-15)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Then, Gil found himself being widely accepted. Then, people started liking him, even those who hadn't liked him before, because you also needn't be worried about being universally liked, nobody is universally liked. 

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil com políticos, imprensa, e representantes indígenas, da Unesco (Organização das Nações Unidas para a Educação, a Ciência e a Cultura), Unicef (Fundo das Nações Unidas para a Infância) e FAO (Organização das Nações Unidas para a Alimentação e a Agricultura) durante visita ao projeto de uma nova aldeia para os índios Bororo (2004-04-15)Instituto Gilberto Gil

You need to work with people who want to work with you, to do the best you can. And that's what Gil did, with a lot of courage, with a lot of magnanimity. Sincerely speaking, I learned to worship Gil because of his easygoing manner, his kindness, his respect,  his wisdom.

Gilberto Gil cumprimenta o Presidente Lula em seu último dia como ministro da Cultura do Brasil (2008-07-30)Instituto Gilberto Gil

You'd go to African countries, you'd arrive there and there'd be those welcoming dances, and when you least expected it, there'd be Gil dancing (laughter) … I can say that it was really great having Gil as culture minister. I think that nobody will ever have another Gil like I did.

How did Gil's appointment impact on the symbolic construction of your presidency, and on enhancing the Brazilian people's self-esteem?

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil, presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva e Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva na mostra Tropicália, Uma Revolução na Cultura Brasileira, em Londres (2006-03-08)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gil was appointed because of a range of qualities that I saw in him and that I felt were needed in Brazil. As well as being a multitalented performer, he represented our beloved Black population. 

O então ministro da Cultura, Gilberto Gil, e autoridades brasileiras conversam com integrante do grupo Samba Chula dos Filhos da Pitangueira, durante o lançamento do Programa Nacional do Patrimônio Imaterial (2004-10-05)Instituto Gilberto Gil

And, even more, he represented that guy who had won. I always like experience, because there are those who think that when you defend the poorest, it's because you love poverty. 

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil e indígenas durante visita ao projeto de uma nova aldeia para os índios Bororo (2004-04-15)Instituto Gilberto Gil

No! I hate poverty! I want everyone out of poverty! And Gil represented the rise of the Black movement in Brazil. He represented just this: 

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil e baianas durante visita oficial ao Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Império Serrano (2004-12-13)Instituto Gilberto Gil

"Look, I'm a black guy, who was born in a Black state [Bahia], I'm from the Northeast, and I've made a success of my life. I've made a success of my life in here, I've made a success of my life out there, I'm respected here, I'm respected there, I was feared here, by the military …" It was a host of values that made me ask Gil.

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil, presidente Lula e secretário do Audiovisual Orlando Senna na Solenidade de Encaminhamento do Projeto de Lei que criaria o Fundo Setorial no âmbito do Fundo Nacional da Cultura (FNC) (2006-06-07)Instituto Gilberto Gil

And that was what I think pleased Brazilian society. I can say, without fear of being wrong: no other country in the world had a culture minister like my dear Gil. Not one, not a single one.

Gilberto Gil em entrevista para a Revista Macau (2006-09-11)Instituto Gilberto Gil

A capable and learned person, a singer-songwriter, a lovely Black guy, someone who speaks from the heart, a real comrade … When he opens his mouth to speak, there is something inside him that is so caring … Gil wouldn't belong in a rotten government like the one that came in a few years later.

Gil exudes a lot of goodness, lightheartedness, kindness. He is, therefore, all about love. Perhaps because of the number of children he has. He doesn't like to speak ill of others, you never see Gil speaking ill of anyone, do you?

 He talks about things he believes, and he keeps on talking and keeps on doing … He's very good. So I'm proud. This is what you can put into the Gil Museum: "During the time he was a minister, he was the best culture minister anywhere in the world!" So there you have it!

There was also that time at the UN when he sang, with Kofi Annan providing the backing on a hand drum …

Kofi Annan no palco com Gilberto Gil e sua banda no Show da Paz na sede da ONU (2003-09-19)Instituto Gilberto Gil

And there's something else: he was very respected! Wherever he went, he was respected. He's almost the same age as me and I think that him being alive at the same time as me and being able to be a part of my government was a blessing from God. 

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil com o secretário-geral das Nações Unidas Kofi Annan na sede da ONU (2003-09-19)Instituto Gilberto Gil

He wasn't really my minister; he rewarded me by agreeing to be a minister. I had nothing to give him yet he gave me so much, so very much. Gil was just a joy for Brazilian culture.

What was the thinking behind your decision to give Gil the ministerial job? And could you tell us about any new insights that you remember Gil bringing you and your government, whether relating to cultural policy itself or the political game in general?

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil e Angélique Kidjo em show na II CIAD - Conferência de Intelectuais da África e da Diáspora (2006-07-14)Instituto Gilberto Gil

I made 32 trips to Africa, to 22 countries, and I opened 19 new embassies there. Since leaving the presidency, I've made 16 trips to Africa and visited 11 countries. My commitment was because I understood that Brazil must never erase Africa from its history.

Gilberto Gil com Paulo Souto, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva e grupo de políticos na II Conferência de Intelectuais da África e da Diáspora (2006-07-12)Instituto Gilberto Gil

The history book on Brazil has to include Angola, São Tomé and Principe, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau … These Portuguese-speaking countries were always part of our history. We're talking 350 years! 

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil, Paulo Souto, governador da Bahia, e Ali Mohamed Shein, vice-presidente da Tanzânia, na II Conferência de Intelectuais da África e da Diáspora (2006-07-12)Instituto Gilberto Gil

I'm delighted that Gil also thought the same. You have to look at the number of trips Gil made to Africa with me. I could even have chosen a politician for the Ministry of Culture. But politics is really dull!  I didn't want a guy who was heavy going.

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil, o presidente da República Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, o diretor-executivo da Cinemateca, Carlos Magalhães, ministro das Relações Exteriores Celso Amorim e secretário-executivo do Ministério da Cultura Juca Ferreira, durante a celebração do aniversário da Cinemateca Brasileira, em São Paulo (2006-08-29)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gil was very different. And he even brought along his friend Juca Ferreira. Do you know what surprised me, at first? Because people say that he isn't conservative but, every now and again, he shocks people. 

When he introduced me to Juca, telling me that he'd be his executive secretary, I had my doubts. But Juca was one of the loveliest people Gil introduced me to and, later, when Gil had to leave, there was no argument: 

Presidente Lula, Gilberto Gil e Dilma Roussef participam da cerimônia de posse do novo ministro da Cultura, Juca Ferreira (2008-08-28)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Anyone who doesn't like Juca won't like this because he's now going to be my minister, he's going to carry on from Gil.

Did you protect Gil in any way while he was a minister?

Ministro Gilberto Gil, presidente Lula e ministro Orlando Silva com artistas e representantes de entidades esportivas em reunião sobre Lei de Incentivo ao Esporte (2006-12-28)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gil attended cabinet meetings, Gil talked about policy, he spoke at cabinet meetings, it wasn't just a matter of culture. He'd talk about general topics. 

Gilberto Gil em evento com políticos diversosInstituto Gilberto Gil

I was always afraid of asking a lot, because a famous guy like him, well-known and respected all over the world, I never wanted Gil to have the same responsibilities as other ministers, to get involved in certain quarrels, see? 

O então ministro da Cultura, Gilberto Gil, e autoridades brasileiras participaram do lançamento do Programa Nacional do Patrimônio Imaterial (2004-10-05)Instituto Gilberto Gil

No, I wanted Gil right there, where he was showing off the cultural Brazil, showing off the lives of our Black people, showing off our samba, showing off our culture as a whole, that was what I wanted him to do.

Gilberto Gil e o cantor Bono Vox durante encontro em restaurante francês (Julho de 2005)Instituto Gilberto Gil

 I didn't want a gasbag of a minister, giving dull speeches, you see? Leave that to us politicians. I wanted his charm, his culture, that's what I wanted.

Did Gil's Culture administration leave anything still to be done or did he achieve everything? How are we to assess the future based on Gil's legacy at the Ministry of Culture?

Gilberto Gil em ensaio fotográfico para a revista IstoéInstituto Gilberto Gil

Gil coming to the Ministry allowed people to see the palm-greasing that was going on in culture, right here in Brasilia, where they were only looking after the so-called formal culture, profitable culture, the culture that made money,  and that is easy to do.

Gilberto Gil em ensaio fotográfico para a revista IstoéInstituto Gilberto Gil

Gil coming here made it possible for people … not for people to go to where culture was, but for people to bring the culture that already exists in Brazil into Brazil. Making the nation aware of the cultural wealth that there is in the hinterland of the Northeast.

O então ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil com Suzana Beiro, então coordenadora do Instituto Brasileiro de Administração para o Desenvolvimento (Ibrad), Luiz Fernando de Almeida, então presidente do Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (Iphan), Ubiratan Castro de Araújo, então presidente da Fundação Cultural Palmares, Sérgio Mamberti, então secretário da Diversidade e Identidade Cultural do MinC, e Mestre Salustiano (12/11/1945 - 31/08/2008), artista e fundador da Casa da Rabeca do Brasil, e José Samuel Magalhães, então gerente de Comunicação Institucional da Petrobras em Brasília, na abertura do II Seminário Nacional das Políticas Públicas para as Culturas Populares e do I Encontro Sul-Americano das Culturas Populares (ESACP) (2006-09-14)Instituto Gilberto Gil

That there is in the Jequitinhonha Valley, in Minas Gerais; that there is among people working in arts and crafts, see? There is an immense wealth that the people who live in Brasilia aren't aware of!

O então ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil na instauração do Conselho Superior do Cinema (2004-02-11)Instituto Gilberto Gil

There were two things that I wanted to do with Gil that we didn't manage to get done. One is that I'd told Gil that I'd like people to make around ten feature films about the history of Brazil. 

O então ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil na instauração do Conselho Superior do Cinema (2004-02-11)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Pick the best moments in Brazil's history and make ten super-productions that could even challenge for an Oscar. And look for the money men, who are real scoundrels, you know?

O então ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil na instauração do Conselho Superior do Cinema (2004-02-11)Instituto Gilberto Gil

You won't find a Brazilian money man who's willing to put money into culture! He'll come up with money for a Rio 92, a Rio whatever year, a Rock in Rio, yeah? Because he wants a profit at the box office door: he invests on Sunday and wants the profit on Monday!

Gilberto Gil, Orlando Senna, Lúcia Rocha e Paloma Rocha durante lançamento do DVD Terra Em Transe (2006-04-10)Instituto Gilberto Gil

He wants to spend the night counting the profit he's made! You don't have a guy who is willing to pick up a project for 20, 30 million Brazilian Reais [around 4-6 million US dollars] to make one hell of a film … And we're going to bring this country to the world's attention, just like the North Americans do!

Documents from Gilberto Gil's Private ArchiveInstituto Gilberto Gil

The best policy for combating communism in the world is the North American cinema industry, which they use to praise a government, to bring down a government, to create terrorists, to create the good guys, to create the bad guys, don't they? 

And I only wanted to tell the story of our history! For example, what was the Malês Revolt? Why couldn't you have a feature film telling the real story of the Malês? But it never got done. Don't ask me why, I don't know.

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil participa de solenidade de apresentação do Projeto de Lei que cria o Fundo Setorial do Audiovisual (FSA) (2006-07-06)Instituto Gilberto Gil

The other thing that I wanted to do, you know that square, that grassy area between the bus station and the President's Palace [in Brasilia]? That square that's always empty? What I imagined was having a Culture Festival there all year round. 

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil participa de solenidade de apresentação do Projeto de Lei que cria o Fundo Setorial do Audiovisual (FSA) (2006-07-06)Instituto Gilberto Gil

That could be a place with some well-built stalls, a theater festival in one bit, a music festival in another, a movie festival in another … Get Brazil bubbling! Regrettably, that wasn't possible either. 

Brasilia (1961-04) by Dmitri KesselLIFE Photo Collection

Then, I dreamed up with Gil the idea of holding a Nation Week, in the Square of the Three Powers. Music, food, dancing … but we couldn't get it done. I think that when Gil went to talk to the advisers, they said: "That's a lot of work! There isn't the money." Those are my disappointments.

Do you still keep in touch with Gil on a regular basis?

Gilberto Gil com sua esposa e empresária, Flora Gil, com o ex-presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva e a socióloga Janja da Silva em almoço na casa da Secretária Municipal de Relações Internacionais da cidade de São Paulo Marta Suplicy (2021-12-16)Instituto Gilberto Gil

From time to time, I still talk to Gil, because we sometimes meet up via zoom, with him, Bela Gil, sometimes Flora, Janja, me, Chico (Buarque), João Paulo from the Landless Movement …

O presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva e Gilberto Gil, acompanhado de sua esposa Flora Gil, em seu último dia no Ministério da Cultura (2008-07-30)Instituto Gilberto Gil

From time to time we have these zoom meetings so we can chat a bit … And I think he's doing OK. I've seen some of his live streams and he's OK. I think he can cope with a bit more ministry stuff, don't you? (laughter

Gilberto Gil e o ex-presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva durante almoço na casa da Secretária Municipal de Relações Internacionais da cidade de São Paulo Marta Suplicy (2021-12-16)Instituto Gilberto Gil

I think that when we talk about that, he'll be so shocked but I think he can cope with a bit more … He's more experienced, wiser, now his family's all grown up, isn't he? Only eating organic food that Bela makes for him … So, I think he'll do just fine.

Gilberto Gil e o ex-presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva durante almoço na casa da Secretária Municipal de Relações Internacionais da cidade de São Paulo Marta Suplicy (2021-12-16)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Finally, what was your reaction when he gave up the post and what was that like? How did you feel at the time and what do you remember now about those two moments?

Ministro Gilberto Gil e presidente Lula em reunião sobre Lei de Incentivo ao Esporte (2006-12-28)Instituto Gilberto Gil

I was overjoyed when he accepted. For me, above all, because he was the guy I really wanted to be culture minister. And his departure was also envisaged because I spoke to Flora and she also told me  that he needed to leave. 

Documents from Gilberto Gil's Private ArchiveInstituto Gilberto Gil

We were doing a huge event in Brasilia to launch a program called More Culture. It was at that event that Gil told me that he was leaving the Ministry and then he asked me if Juca Ferreira could present the program. 

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil e o secretário-executivo do Ministério da Cultura, Juca Ferreira, na abertura do evento Teia de Cultura e Cidadania, Mostra de Cultura do Brasil e Economia Solidária (2006-04-05)Instituto Gilberto Gil

There were some three thousand people there and, when Juca Ferreira did the More Culture presentation, I once again gave thanks to God, because I said: "F…, I've just found my culture minister and it's Juca Ferreira!"

Oh, do you have one or two favorite Gil songs that you particularly love?

Os organizadores do Brasília Music Festival 2003 com o então presidente Lula e Gilberto Gil como ministro da Cultura (2003-10-09)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Well, you know that I'm lousy with songs. When Elis Regina died, I went to the funeral, and I couldn't remember any … In 1989, when I was on strike, who was there and even sat on my leg? Gonzaguinha. I worshiped him. I went to his funeral, and I couldn't remember any there, either.

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil e o músico Henri Salvador se apresentam após a cerimônia da Ordem do Mérito Cultural (2005-08-11)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Execução da música Luar de Gilberto Gil no programa de rádio Street Samba
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I remembered La Lune de Gorée, because he sang it to me at a very special moment. But I think that Luar [A Gente Precisa Ver o Luar] is a lovely song, one that I think says a lot, really a lot … 

Ministro da Cultura Gilberto Gil e o músico Henri Salvador se apresentam após a cerimônia da Ordem do Mérito Cultural (2005-08-11)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil em Superhomem, A Canção
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I think that the ladies must like Luar a lot. And, then, Super Homem [Super Homem (A Canção)]. I think that Gil stands out because of his songwriting skills, because he speaks to people in his songs.

Credits: Story

Interview: Ceci Alves, Chris Fuscaldo, and Marco Konopacki
Assembly: Chris Fuscaldo
Acknowledgments: Eduardo Stuckert and Rosângela da Silva ("Janja")

General credits 


Editor and curator: Chris Fuscaldo / Garota FM Edições
Music content research: Ceci Alves, Chris Fuscaldo, Laura Zandonadi, and Ricardo Schott 
Culture Ministry (MinC) content research: Carla Peixoto, Ceci Alves, and Chris Fuscaldo
Photo captions: Anna Durão, Carla Peixoto, 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, and Tito Guedes
Data editor: Isabela Marinho and Marco Konopacki
Gege Produções redaction: Cristina DoriaAcknowledgments: Gege Produções, Gilberto Gil, Flora Gil, Gilda Mattoso, Fafá Giordano, Maria Gil, Meny Lopes, Nelci Frangipani, Cristina Doria, Daniella Bartolini, all the photographers, and all those who have played a part in this story


All media: Instituto Gilberto Gil
 
*Every effort has been made to credit the images, audio tapes, and video files and to accurately convey the stories told in the exhibits. If you find any errors and/or omissions, please email atendimentogil@gege.com.br

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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