RIO DE JANEIRO – Singer-songwriter and Brazil’s former Culture Minister Gilberto Gil sings of life at age 76 after recovering from a serious illness that had him on the brink of death, on his new disc “OK OK OK,” his first with previously unreleased songs after eight years of silence and the sixtieth of his career.
“This disc is a hymn to my vitality and my delight in composing once again,” Gil, one of the Brazil’s most famed musicians worldwide and who has written hundreds of songs and won seven Grammy Awards, told a press conference Thursday at his disc-launching ceremony.
The new album can be heard in its entirety around the world starting Friday on the Apple Music platform, with CD and vinyl editions also available.
The disc features 12 songs Gil began composing during his difficult convalescence in 2016 when he was hospitalized four times after being diagnosed with cardiorenal failure.
“I believe that yes, this is a disc about overcoming, since I spent two years just taking care of my health,” said the singer, who was one of the promoters in the 1960s of the cultural protest movement Tropicalista.
“I always thought, even before that attack on my health, that all in life is finite. But there came a time when such thoughts about life and death became the theme of my compositions,” said the composer, one of the leading representatives of Brazilian Pop Culture (MPB).
Though the album was given the name of the only song with a clearly political message (OK OK OK), the others are tributes to members of his family including his first granddaughter, the two doctors who saved his life, new friends like journalist Andrea Sadi and actress Maria Ribeiro, and a friend, “Sereno,” whose 100th birthday he missed because he was hospitalized.
“Those were people close to me during that difficult time in my life,” he said with reference, among others, to Dr. Roberta Saretta, to whom he dedicated “Quatro Pedacinhos” (Four Pieces) for having been responsible for a biopsy in which were extracted, he said, “four pieces of my heart.”
Despite being a song to life, the album has sparked controversy for including the composition “OK OK OK,” which had already been released as a single this year, and in which the man who had already been culture minister, environment secretary, candidate for mayor, political prisoner, exile, party leader and ecologist answers those who demanded that he take a stand on the current “vile” political and social situation in Brazil.