(K. Brent Tomer),
TWO OF Brazil’s most prominent pop musicians, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, both from Bahia and both 73 years old, will perform on May 4th at the Barbican Centre. They are regular performers across the world, seem not to feel their age and wear their superstardom lightly. But it was not always so easy—there is darkness in their story. Just over 47 years ago, they were slung into solitary confinement in Rio de Janeiro. They remained incarcerated for two months.
It is an experience neither will forget. Brazil had become a military dictatorship in 1964, and the generals quickly tightened their grip on critics, writers, poets and provocateurs such as Messrs Veloso and Gil. By 1967, the duo was known as the country’s leading tropicalistas, exponents of a permissive new musical idiom—Tropicalismo—that grafted British and North American rock on to the gentler song-forms of what was known as “música popular brasileira” (MPB). MPB was a mix of Brazilian rhythms, samba and bossa nova, often accompanied by edgy lyrics reflecting amorous and social concerns. It was not the time in Brazil to get edgier….Continue reading