Bebel Gilberto embraces new attitude on life, music
By LAURA EMERICK firstname.lastname@example.org September 12, 2012 5:04PM
Bebel Gilberto headlines City Winery Sept. 14-15.
◆ 8 p.m. Sept. 14-15
◆ City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph
◆ Tickets, $45-$55
◆ (312) 733-9463;
Updated: September 13, 2012 4:18PM
Bebel Gilberto, one of the most alluring artists on the Latin/world music scene, confesses she’s waiting for the phone to ring.
Not for companionship. More for accompaniment. The singer-songwriter is part of a Brazilian musical dynasty: daughter of bossa-nova co-founder Joao Gilberto and singer Miucha, and niece of iconic singer-songwriter Chico Buarque. Though she has released four studio discs since her breakthrough in the late ’90s with the electro-bossa “Tanto Tempo,” Gilberto has yet to make a disc with her famous forebears.
“I’m here — it all depends on them,” said Gilberto, 46, in her throaty purr, during an interview before her upcoming tour, which stops Sept. 14-15 at the City Winery. “All they have to do is pick up the phone and call me. Of course, my dad has health issues, my mom, too. Everyone’s getting older. It’s sad but life can be a disease.”
Not just physically but also emotionally. When Gilberto surfaced with “All in One” (2009), her last disc and first on the storied Verve label, she was in the throes of love, after marrying Didie Cunha, the executive producer and sound engineer on that project. “It turned out to be my most personal disc, mainly because I had my husband in the studio with me all the time,” she said then.
Three years later, she’s moved on and won’t be waiting for this certain someone to ring. “I got divorced; it was a big surprise. But it was time because it wasn’t working. It’s better for me and him. It’s better to be focused.” Then she added with a sultry laugh, “We women have to rely on ourselves.”
For her next disc, which she hopes to release in the spring (“my favorite season”), Gilberto has embraced that attitude. “I’m writing more songs alone, and it will have five or six covers,” she said. “I’m looking for producers to work with — I can’t mention names yet. But I will be in charge.”
It will mark a return to the sound of her second disc, “Bebel Gilberto” (2004), which toned down the electronica/dance beats of “Tanto Tempo” for more of an organic, traditional bossa-nova style. “My new songs are more like the ones from ‘Bebel Gilberto,’ which was about following your dreams and knowing what your dreams can do for you. The fact that I have songs written 100 percent by me tells you what I’m feeling like now,” she said. “I’m more confident in my writing, and I’m also playing the guitar now, too.”
Her father is one of the greatest guitarists of modern Brazilian music but she didn’t seek him out for advice. “I’m self-taught; it was too intimidating to ask my dad,” she said. When he heard of her latest venture, he teased her: You’re starting to play now that you’re over 40 years old? “He made some comments but he was really thrilled with my progress.”
Along with the studio disc, she’s also working on a concert DVD. “It’s a celebration of what I’ve achieved in my career,” she said. “It will be shot in Brazil on the beach, just like ‘The Girl from Ipanema,’ yes?”
A huge international hit that became the anthem of the bossa nova movement, “The Girl From Ipanema” featured Bebel’s stepmother Astrud on vocals. The song first appeared “Getz/Gilberto” (1963) on Verve, the label behind the bossa classics by the great Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfa and of course, her father.
But Bebel Gilberto has moved on again. “Verve, I’m done with them,” she said. “They had a crisis in the company. I was pleased to be part of their catalog, but it was time to leave.”
She hopes to continue her artistic relationship with another former Verve master, the legendary composer-producer Sergio Mendes, who received an Oscar nomination for the song “Real in Rio,” from the animated movie “Rio” (2011). Bebel provided the voice of the bird Eva in “Rio” and loved the experience.
“The music was so wonderful,” she said. “I was so pleased to be working with Sergio. The movie should have been nominated for the Oscar, too, it was so well done, with all kinds of birds. That was amazing. I really love that film.”
Now that “Rio 2” is in the works, Gilberto covets another call. “I’m hoping,” she said, laughing. “I’m waiting for the phone to ring — from my parents and from the team from ‘Rio.’ ”