A week after making the actress Fernanda Montenegro immortal, the Brazilian Academy of Letters (ABL) admitted this Thursday (11) another popular culture icon in its paintings: the singer Gilberto Gil.
Gil won the dispute with 21 votes. Poet Salgado Maranhão, who received seven votes, and writer Ricardo Daunt, who was not voted, also competed. There were still 4 blank votes and two null votes.
The 79-year-old musician from Bahia will occupy chair number 20, whose patron is physician and journalist Joaquim Manuel de Macedo, and was vacated with the death of journalist Murilo Melo Filho, in May 2020.
Through his social networks, Gil thanked the vote. “Very happy to be elected to chair 20 of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. Thanks to everyone for the fans and thanks to now colleagues at the Academy for the choice.”
Very happy to be elected to chair 20 of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. Thanks to everyone for the fans and thanks to now colleagues at the Academy for choosing
— Gilberto Gil (@gilbertogil) November 11, 2021
According to Marco Lucchesi, president of ABL, “high and popular culture are not enemies”. “The bird needs two wings to fly. Without one he doesn’t fly far.”
The academic Antônio Cícero also celebrated the moment lived by the ABL. “We are all very happy. Gilberto Gil is this uniting trait. A permanent aggregation capable of talking to all of Brazil and the world. He sings Brazil and thinks about Brazil. Gil is the diverse, the tolerance”, stated the writer.
The relationship between the artist and the academy is old. In 1996, Gilberto Gil released the book “All the Letters”, his first work. The collection of compositions made him meet one of the prerequisites for him to be able to compete for a seat in the ABL: having at least one book published.
After several surveys, Gilberto Gil was invited to run for Alfredo Bosi, who died in April of this year, at the age of 84. The musician was close to the historian of Brazilian literature and film critic and, for this reason, he ended up opting for another post, that of journalist Murilo Melo Filho.
Expoente da Tropicália and one of the main names in Brazilian Popular Music (MPB), Gilberto Gil has accumulated relevant awards, released more than 40 albums and is among the most revered Brazilian artists abroad, with hits such as “Expresso 2222”, “Andar com faith” and “That Hug”.
The last composition on the list is a criticism of the authoritarianism of the military dictatorship, which kept him imprisoned for two months at the Escola Militar de Realengo, on charges of disrespecting the Brazilian flag and the national anthem, although nothing has been proven.
The verse “Hello, hello Realengo/ That hug”, is a reference to that period. The song, however, became another anthem in the popular songbook of Rio de Janeiro, then the federal capital.
openness to society
The election of Gilberto Gil is part of an effort by the ABL to open up more to society and dialogue with popular culture. This movement has already resulted in the incorporation of paintings such as filmmaker Cacá Diegues and the great lady of Brazilian theater, Fernanda Montenegro.
Gilberto Gil is also known for his political engagement. In 1988, the year of the constituent assembly, he was elected councilor of Salvador by the PMDB. The following year, he migrated to the Green Party (PV). In 2003, when then-President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva (PI) took office, the artist was appointed Minister of Culture.
The musician was also an ambassador of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and pledged to fight hunger in the world.
In 2003, he performed during the UN General Assembly, in a performance that became known as the “Peace Show”, in New York. At the time, he put the organization’s secretary general, the Ghanaian Kofi Annan, to play percussion in “Toda Menina Baiana”.
Reference: CNN Brasil