HCA NEWS Gilberto Gil appointed HCA Ambassador

Brazilian musician and Minister fo Culture Gilberto Gil, who is currently on official visit to Denmark, has today joined ranks with the fast expanding Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador corps.

By ms - H.C. Andersen 2005 - 09 July 2004

Today, at 2:30 p.m. (Central European Time) Friday 9 July, Danish Minister for Culture Brian Mikkelsen appointed Brazilian Minister for Culture and musician Gilberto Gil as Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador. For decades, Gilberto Gil has been a leading figure within the development of modern Brazilian popular music, and since the 1960s he has been a catalyst in bringing Brazilian music and culture to the world.

Danish Minister for Culture Brian Mikkelsen appointed Gilberto Gil with the following statement:

"This is a most happy occasion. We have the famous musician and composer Gilberto Gil among us today here in the Tivoli Gardens. Not only is he a great artist, but he is also the Minister of Culture in Brazil. That is a rare and fine combination, and I am therefore very proud to have the hounour and privilege of appointing Mr. Gilberto Gil as Hans Christian Andersen ambassador."

Artistic endeavour
In his speech, the Danish minister for culture emphasised the similarities between the two artists, Andersen and Gil, who are both widely embracing in their artistic endeavour. He recalled his official visit to Brazil in April 2003 when he also met Gilberto Gil.

After his speech, Danish Minister for Culture Brian Mikkelsen presented the newly appointed Andersen Ambassador with the Hans Christian Andersen needle and diploma as well as the Hans Christian Andersen plate designed by Lin Utzon.

Secretary General of the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation, Lars Seeberg, expressed great satisfaction in the commitment made by the Brazilian popular hero and minister for culture to the worldwide celebration of Hans Christian Andersen next year. He envisioned great opportunity in this Danish-Brazilian collaboration.

Lars Seeberg stated:
"In all too many ways, Gilberto Gil's words "We belong to the world, and the world belongs to us. We are part of everything, and we are in every part" capture our dream of bringing Andersen to the world. With Gilberto Gil as Ambassador, and with the many exciting Brazilian projects, I am sure that Hans Christian Andersen could never have wished a more grand welcome to Brazil."

Gilberto Gil is currently on an official visit to Denmark, and he combines his official duties with a jazz concert performance featured at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. This combination of politics and music is characteristic of Gilberto Gil, who since assuming office as minister for culture has insisted on maintaining his musical career. In acknowledgment of his contribution to music and culture, Gil was awarded the Man of the Year Award at the Latin Grammy Awards in Miami in the autumn of 2003.

Living legend
His 40-year career as singer, composer and guitarist has made Gilberto Gil a living legend. In the 1960s, he and Caetano Veloso created the musical genre Tropicalism, which became the most important development within Brazilian music since the bossa nova. Tropicalism combines traditional Brazilian musical genres with elements of international music and pop culture. Gil drew inspiration for this new genre from João Gilberto and Luiz Gonzaga as well as other bossa nova legends that Gil had listened to in his early youth.

Following his years of forced exile in England he started to develop an interest in mixing musical genres. Among other things, he introduced elements of European pop music to the Brazilian idiom. This development earned him international success, spearheaded by his performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in 1978.

During his extensive career, the now 62-year-old Gilberto Gil has released over 30 albums, received 11 gold albums, 5 platinum albums and sold more than 5 million copies. His latest album from 2002, entitled "Kaya N'Gandaya", is inspired by the music of Bob Marley.

Furthermore, Gil has recorded albums with a wide variety of artists, such as his childhood idol João Gilberto, Bob Marley's band The Wailers and Milton Nascimento, who also features at this year's Copenhagen Jazz Festival.

Gilberto Gil's appointment as minister for culture rewards a lifelong commitment to politics. In the late 1960s, he was imprisoned for his outspoken social criticism voiced in his novel musical genre tropicalism. This eventually led to exile. From 1988 to 1992, he was a member of the city council in his hometown Salvador, and he has since established the Onda Azul Foundation, which addresses environmental and social issues. In 2002, he was appointed Brazilian minister for culture by President Luiz Ignácia Lula de Silva, and his commitment to bringing Brazilian music to the world has today made Gilberto Gil a Brazilian national hero. He also actively promotes reforms that will facilitate the financing of cultural activities in his country.

Gilberto Gil is the 44th in the row of international personalities to be appointed Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador in connection with the 2005 Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary - the worldwide celebration of the bicentenary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen. He joins ranks with his fellow countryman, the football legend Pelé, who in May last year was appointed by HRH Crown Prince Frederik. It was, incidentally, the first appointment to be made on Danish soil.

The first Ambassadors, including celebrities such as Susan Sarandon, Harvey Keitel, Peter Martins and Suzanne Vega, were appointed in New York in October 2002. Since then, a wide range of acclaimed writers and famous politicians, athletes and others have been added to the worldwide list.