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Given her parentage – her father the famous composer/singer/guitarist Jaoa Gilberto and her mother the singer Miucha – it would have been harder for Brazilian bossa nova star Bebel Gilberto not to have become a singer.

She started early enough – as you will see below – and even though her parents separated she spent time with them both as she was growing up. She sang with her mother but when she was with her father Bebel was part of his circle which included Caetano Veloso and Stan Getz.

Based in New York, she appeared on the Red Hot + Rio collection and has a discography of seven studio albums which include featherlight acoustic songs and electronica-based bossa nova.

She is one of Brazil's biggest selling artists internationally and voiced the character Eva in the two Rio animated features.

And she is coming to this year's Taranaki Womad.

Hmm, Latin sophistication under summer skies in Taranaki.

Timely then for her to answer our Famous Elsewhere World Music Questionnaire . . .

The first musician whose music really affected you was . . .


Your first appearance on stage before an audience was . . . (And you were how old?)

When I was with my dad, Joao Gilberto, at Carnegie Hall. I was 9.

If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .


The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear because they are so emotionally moving are . . .

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved.”

The most unusual place you have performed would be . . .?

On the rooftop of a Chicago club. It was the first time ever I played in Chicago and I was very afraid. Because it was raining and the structure over our heads was leaking, and everything - all of our equipment and the electric wiring and circuitry were getting wet - and yet they insisted we keep playing. I was very worried.

The most important book you have read is . . .? And why?

Billie Holiday’s autobiography - Lady Sings the Blues. I read it when I was 14 years old and this book affected me profoundly. She is one of music’s most gifted and soulful human beings and reading about her life story was both haunting and inspiring.

If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)

Prince and any of his songs.

Rio2011PosterThe three films you'd like anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .

“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” (Almodovar), “Jules and Jim” (Truffaut) and “The Hunger” with Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon.

The last CD, vinyl album or download you bought was . . .

Last album from David Bowie, Black Star.

When you travel, what is it you most miss about your home country?

My bed.

The artist you most admire would be …


Your favourite meal to share with friends would be . . .? (Care to share a simple recipe?)

My favorite food to make at home is very clean and simple: Fish, vegetables and a nice arugula salad.

Do you practice every day, and if so for how long?

No, I don’t practice every day. I wish. My schedule is always full of different things, so unfortunately the only thing I do everyday is brush my teeth.

David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” If that were true, you would spend them where, doing . . .?

Well, I think David Bowie did it very well, so my plan is to follow in his footsteps and try to enjoy the time I have left. Instead of complaining or feeling miserable, it would be great to put as much time and energy into my music and the things that are nourishing and make me happy. And also to make time for the people you love. Because you believe, and I hope he did recognize how wonderful, incredible and unique he was. That people needed him and his art, his new songs and his new thoughts.

And finally, do you have any unrealised goals in music?

I’d like to learn how to record more music on my own, for example in my home and places where I feel comfortable. To not be so dependent on the business structure and “the system”, so that today, for example, I’m in a hotel in Brazil and it would be ideal if I could record a song here and now, you know? To release music in a personal and direct way, without being so dependent on the music “industry”, would be organic and wonderful.


For details on Womad artists and booking information go here


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