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Preta Gil: New York, NY, June 16, 2013

Ernest Barteldes By

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Preta Gil
Brazilian Film Festival at Central Park Summerstage
New York, NY
June 16, 2013

Backed by a simple four-piece band (drums, guitar, bass, keys), Rio de Janeiro-born Preta Gil took the stage with her "Meu Corpo Quer Voce" ("My Body Wants You"), a hit single for her in Brazil. The audience—mostly formed by expats from her country—quickly caught on and sang along with her.

Probably aware that many of those present would not recognize her current music, Gil filled the set with covers of famous Brazilian songs rearranged to her funky/soul style. Highlights included a re-imagined version of Hegemonia do Samba's "Meu Mundo Se Desfez" and Wando's "Fogo e Paixão."

Gil included various musical styles during the set, including samba-reggae, rock, samba and forró. She acknowledged the music of tropicália-era musicians like Caetano Veloso, Baby do Brasil and her father, Gilberto Gil. She also featured the more recent Axé Music, a rhythm commonly played in the northeast of Brazil during the Carnaval festivities. She kept the energy up by energetically dancing and barely stopping between songs; one of the few pauses came when she acknowledged a group of people who had participated in a peaceful protest against violence in Brazil, in the wake of the violent manifestations that were taking place throughout the country at the time—and also to make a short statement against homophobia.

Forró was also showcased via renditions of Dominguinhos's "Eu Só Quero Um Xodo" and "Esperando na Janela," both hits for Gilberto Gil. She switched gears once again, playing a string of carnaval-themed songs beginning with Portuguese Kuduro and a medley of sambas that ended with full renditions of Jorge Ben Jor's "Taj Mahal," best known to American audiences for Ben's plagiarism lawsuit against Rod Stewart in 1978, and Tim Maia's "Nao Quero Dinheiro."

Not widely known stateside, Gil left a great impression with the audience. Despite performing little of her own new material during the set, the singer took ownership of the covers she performed, always focusing on playing them with a very different flavor. The performance was followed by a screening of Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fure, an animated science fiction feature released this year.

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