Letters of Love and Respect

Gilberto Gil has received all kinds of correspondence during his lifetime, including handwritten notes, mailed envelopes, faxes, and emails.

By Instituto Gilberto Gil

Text: Chris Fuscaldo, journalist and music researcher

Cartão de Lisa Robinson enviado a Gilberto GilInstituto Gilberto Gil

A Welcome Siege

Ever since he first emerged onto the music scene, Gilberto Gil has been hounded (in the best sense of the word) by the press, his fans, and even his friends. This kind of attention is often more pleasant when received in handwritten notes, letters, and cards, rather than people hoping to meet in person. 

Despedida de Giangia por Gilberto Gil no filme Quilombo

Writing makes it more pressing for the sender to get to the point about what they are trying to say, and with a career spanning almost six decades, Gil has received thousands of letters and cards.

Bilhete de jornalista enviado a Gilberto Gil sobre entrevista publicada com ele (2005-07-16)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Carta de Washington Olivetto enviada a Gilberto GilInstituto Gilberto Gil

Washington Olivetto, owner of the advertising agency W/Brasil, sent a letter to Gilberto Gil while he was culture minister about changes to a cover story that the German publisher Persönlich was going to run.

Carta de Roberta Medina a Gilberto Gil sobre a continuação do Rock in Rio Carta de Roberta Medina a Gilberto Gil sobre a continuação do Rock in Rio (2001)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Political Letters

Offstage, Gil also helped a lot of environmental, social, and cultural dreams come true. As a result, he received letters and notes acknowledging and thanking him for his help, like this one from Roberta Medina. The Rock in Rio vice president talks about the festival continuing, and her desire to make it more educational.

Bilhete de Ruy Pacheco de Azevedo Amaral sobre entrevista de Gilberto Gil, então Ministro da Cultura (2005-06-30)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Alujá Do Rei Xangô por Gilberto Gil para o filme Quilombo

Ruy Pacheco de Azevedo Amaral was head of the Brazilian Embassy's Cultural Section in France in 2005, and was helping to deliver a cultural project known as France's Year of Brazil. He sent Gil's team handwritten information from France about the musician's publicity.

Cartão de Marisa Letícia enviado a Gilberto GilInstituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil has a collection of messages sent by the president of the Republic who most inspired him in the history of Brazil, Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, and the woman who was first lady, Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva, who died in 2017.

Carta de Ana Lúcia de Castro enviada a Gilberto Gil (2002-08-07)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Spiritual Letter

In this colorful letter, a representative of Brahma Kumaris—a non-governmental organization seeking to promote universal human, moral, and spiritual values—invites Gil to a spiritual retreat in India.

Ana Lúcia informs the singer that it will be held in an "enlightened" place.

Carta de um DJ americano em busca de uma música brasileira enviada a Gilberto Gil Carta de um DJ americano em busca de uma música brasileira enviada a Gilberto Gil (9/21/2004)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Between Artists

It was often Brazilian and international artists who sought to strike up a correspondence with Gil. In 2004, Henry Mulindi, a Kenyan mathematics professor and DJ living in New York, sent the Brazilian musician a letter. 

As president of African World Music Associates, he greeted Gil in Swahili (a Bantu language).

After expressing his admiration for the singer, Henry Mulindi asks for his help in finding a song called Batucada, which, he claims, dates from 1937.

Carta de Tony Osanah enviada a Gilberto Gil Carta de Tony Osanah enviada a Gilberto Gil (4/10/2002)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Tony Osanah is an Argentinian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He was a member of the band Beat Boys, who accompanied Gil when he sang Questão de Ordem at a music festival in 1968. 

Tony also played with B.B. King. In his letter, he suggests that Gil should experiment with "new musical dimensions."

Cartão de aniversário de Gal Costa enviado a Gilberto GilInstituto Gilberto Gil

Female Vocalists

Gilberto Gil always inspired devotion among the female vocalists he worked with. Besides the Bahian singers Gal Costa and Maria Bethânia—who both left Salvador at practically the same time as Gil—a number of women have claimed they believe their lives would have turned out differently without him.

Bilhete de Maria Bethânia enviado a Gilberto GilInstituto Gilberto Gil

Reconvexo, com Maria Bethânia e Gilberto Gil, ao vivo no Porto

Maria Bethânia wrote this note on hotel stationery in 2003. In it, the singer explains that she did not sleep well the previous night and asks Gil to stand in for her at the sound check for the show they would be doing together at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

Correspondências de Gilberto Gil e Daniela Mercury Correspondências de Gilberto Gil e Daniela MercuryInstituto Gilberto Gil

Daniela Mercury e Margareth Menezes cantam com Gilberto Gil no PercPan, em 2000

Daniela Mercury had been a backing singer in Gilberto Gil's band before she burst out of Bahia and onto the Brazilian music scene with her hit O Canto da Cidade. She covered Gilberto Gil's songs on many of her albums. This note is to thank her mentor for one of them.

Cartão de Ivete Sangalo enviado a Giberto GilInstituto Gilberto Gil

Levada Louca, com Ivete Sangalo, durante ensaio de Gilberto Gil para o carnaval de 2002

Ivete Sangalo is another singer from the Bahian new generation who regards Gilberto Gil as one of the greatest influences in her music. It is no surprise that the Bahian Carnival star—who has also taken her music beyond her home state—calls Gil "Pai" (Dad) in this handwritten note.

Cartão de aniversário de Margareth Menezes enviado a Gilberto Gil Cartão de aniversário de Margareth Menezes enviado a Gilberto GilInstituto Gilberto Gil

Domingo no Parque, com Margareth Menezes e Hermeto Pascoal, para o Songbook Gilberto Gil

Margareth Menezes is a leading singer-songwriter and a figurehead for Afro-Brazilians in Bahia. Gilberto Gil took "Maga" under his wing as soon as she emerged onto the local music scene, helping her get a lot of gigs. 

He even suggested she be the one to replace him at the 1990 Hollywood Rock festival, and she is grateful for their friendship.

Bilhete deixado por Flora Gil a Gilberto Gil em hotel na Suíça Bilhete deixado por Flora Gil a Gilberto Gil em hotel na SuíçaInstituto Gilberto Gil

Gravação da música Flora de Gilberto Gil

Love Letter

Without doubt, the letter conveying the greatest love for Gil is the one written by his wife, Flora. Besides winning his heart when they first met and keeping it ever since, she now also manages his career and his office.

This handwritten letter reveals Flora's nickname for Gil, "Pê," as well as the fact that she is the one who organizes her husband's diary and shirts.

If nowadays writing letters seems like a thing of the past, in Gilberto Gil's collection the ones written for him help to tell his story.

Credits: Story

Exhibition credits

Research, writing and assembly: 
Chris Fuscaldo

General credits

Editing and curation: Chris Fuscaldo / Garota FM 
Musical content research: Ceci Alves, Chris Fuscaldo, Laura Zandonadi e Ricardo Schott 
Ministry of Culture content research: Carla Peixoto, Ceci Alves, Chris Fuscaldo 
Captions: 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 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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