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Brazilian singer turned minister Gilberto Gil resigns

Latest update : 2008-07-31

Gilberto Gil, Brazil's globally renowned singer and composer, announced that he has resigned his job as culture minister to return to music, after four and a half years in the post.

Gilberto Gil, Brazil's globally renowned singer and composer, announced Wednesday he has resigned his job as culture minister to return to music, after four and a half years in the post.

Gil, 66, told a media conference he had proffered his resignation to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who had accepted it.

"I feel like I have come full circle and I want to remove myself. I felt a big pressure on my artistic work that was accumulating," Gil said.

He said he had been planning to step down since the end of the government's first mandate in 2006.

He had made public his wish to leave the ministry late last year and said he had asked to resign twice previously, but it was only now that Lula gave his assent.

Gil, wearing a suit and with his long hair tied back, said he felt "calm" over the decision and explained that his executive secretary in the culture ministry, Juca Ferreira, would take his place.

Lula said before his meeting with the outgoing minister that Gil was "going back to being a great artist, going back to giving priority to what is most important" to him.

The departure marked the exit of the most high-profile member of Lula's center-left government.

Gil, a longtime political activist who was held by Brazil's military regime in the 1960s, cut an unusual figure as culture minister.

He backed controversial causes such as the legalization of drugs and allowing some music to be freely downloaded from the Internet.

At the same time, he kept up his music career, composing and giving concerts -- although he was constrained by the government's ethics committee to do so only in his free time, and to ask permission from Lula when he wanted to make tours abroad.

Gil was born in 1942 in the state with Brazil's biggest black population, Bahia, also a region that has produced some of the country's best-known musicians, including Bossa Nova pioneer Joao Gilberto and others such as Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa and Maria Bethania, all of whom Gil played with numerous times.

He and Veloso shared credit for creating the Tropicalismo style of music that incorporated rock and punk.

The two were also detained in 1968 and forced into exile in Britain the following year.

Gil has more than 40 albums to his name, spanning his evolution from Bossa Nova through Tropicalismo to funk and soul.

A fan of all that is new, and bent on popularizing culture, he explored many different avenues at once, flitting between political and musical roles as easily as he did between African rhythm and US-styled blues.

"There are many ways to make music. I prefer all of them," he once said.

His selection as culture minister, while a canny move on Lula's part, also attracted criticism.

The writer Clara Arreguy said Gil had gone into what he despised, becoming "an overturning of priorities, the center of the periphery, the consolidation of the search to get his moment in the sun."

Date created : 2008-07-31