João Gil, songwriter and guitar player, is one of the most renowned artists of the Portuguese music scene.
He was born in Covilhã, Portugal, in December 1965, and moved to Lisbon during his teenage years. He was always a music lover, and his first professional adventures within the music scene happened in 1975, with Artur Costa, within a band called “Soviete do Areeiro”. In 1976, alongside João Nuno Represas, Luís Represas, Artur Costa and Manuel Faria, he founded the band Trovante, and his career as a professional musician really becomes important.
The band’s début album, “Chão Nosso” (1977), included Portuguese traditional music and also a political and social message. A year later, the album “Em Nome da Vida” consolidates the political side of the band.
From this second album, João Gil starts to focus on songwriting, trying to develop a more traditional catalogue with all of the other musicians. The album “Baile do Bosque” was released and became a huge hit, followed by “Cais das Colinas” (1983), which included one of the band’s biggest hits, “Saudade”, lyrics and music by João Gil.
The 80s were a productive time for TROVANTE and also for João Gil, both as a musician and as a songwriter. Hit songs such as “Esplanada”, co-written with João Monge, “Xácara das Bruxas Dançando”, “Memórias de um beijo”, “125 Azul”, with Luís Represas, and “Perdidamente”, were all written by João Gil and gave a more pop sound to the band.
The band TROVANTE was one of the first Portuguese bands to sold out three consecutive shows in Lisbon’s Coliseu dos Recreios during the 80s. In 1986, after the release of “Sepes”, the band was invited to close Festa do Avante (the biggest cultural event for the Portuguese Communist Party) and perform for more than 100,000 people in a memorable show. In 1988, the band took a chance with a big production in Campo Pequeno, Lisbon, which originated one of the most successful Portuguese live records ever recorded.
“Um Destes Dias”, was the last album by TROVANTE, which included another huge hit written by João Gil, lyrics by João Monge: “Timor”. More than just a great song, the track became an anthem to raise awareness within the Portuguese people regarding the Maubere people. In 1991, TROVANTE went on its last tour and decided to call it quits.
Later on, João Gil founded Moby Dick with Artur Costa and Alex Cortez of Rádio Macau.
At the time, the partnership between João Gil and João Monge was a constant thing and so, they both invited Manuel Paulo to found a new music project. The initial idea was not to form a band but to join several songs, with the same sound, that could be performed by different voices. However, the initial idea changed when they met Nuno Guerreiro, who became the chosen singer for the songs they’ve written. The initial members were joined by Nuno Guerreiro, on vocals, and then by Moz Carrapa, guitar, and so the band ALA DOS NAMORADOS was founded.
The band’s first show was in Bruges Festival, Belgium, in 1994, before its debut album. This was the beginning of ALA DOS NAMORADOS’s career, which, from 1994, began touring regularly in Spain, France, Italy, Belgium and Brazil, taking Portuguese music to international stages.
“Loucos de Lisboa”, the band’s first single, written by João Gil and João Monge, became a huge hit. A year later, the band released the second album, “Por Minha Dama”, which included “A História do Zé Passarinho”. In 1995, the band performed at the Mercat de Música Viva de Vic (Barcelona), where it received the Best Foreign Band award.
While touring with ALA DOS NAMORADOS, João Gil also joined Rui Veloso, Tim, Jorge Palma, Vitorino and João Monge to found the band RIO GRANDE – one of the biggest and most successful bands with several artists in Portugal. This band released two albums, which included hits such as “Postal dos Correios” and “Fisga”, and captured all audiences, thus making every RIO GRANDE quite an event.
Meanwhile, the Portuguese and international activity of the band Ala dos Namorados went on and in 1998, the album’s title song became a huge hit: “Solta-se o beijo”, a duet with singer Sara Tavares and music by João Gil.
João Gil, Manuel Paulo and João Monge continued to write songs for Nuno Guerreiro’s voice, evolving the band’s sound and in 2010, the double album “Cristal” featured collaborations with Carman Linares, Aldo Brizzi, Jacques Morelenbaum and Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino. “Ao Fim do Mundo” was one of the main songs.
In 2002, João Gil was involved in CABEÇAS NO AR, with artists Rui Veloso, Jorge Palma and Tim, with lyrics by Carlos Tê and released an album, also entitled “CABEÇAS NO AR”.
Following a tour with Lisbon’s Metropolitan Orchestra, the band Ala dos Namorados performed in Macau (2006), with the Chinese Orchestra in a memorable performance. Also in 2006, João Gil revealed his was leaving the band to pursue new artistic projects.
In 2005, João Gil founded FILARMÓNICA GIL, which included Nuno Norte and Rui Costa. He had the idea to found the band in order to celebrate his 25th year career anniversary as a musician and, once again, worked with João Monge to write the lyrics. “Deixa-te Ficar Na Minha Casa” was the band’s first single and also the most successful one. FILARMÓNICA GIL released a second album in 2007, “Por Mão Própria”, but the band split soon after.
To celebrate his 30 year career anniversary, João Gil released his first solo album, with some guest collaborations, and performed his own songs.
During his career, João Gil never hid his several musical influences, which he explored in the different bands he had. Fado was always one of his references and with Ana Sofa Varela (singer) and João Monge (lyrics), he recorded “Fados de Amor e Pecado” (2009) with excellent reviews.
In 2010, João Gil worked with Adiafa, Mário Delgado, Alexandre Frazão, Miguel Amado and Paulo Ribeiro and founded BAILE POPULAR. “Rosa Albardeira” was one of the biggest hit songs.
In 2011, João Gil and Luís Represas got together again after 35 years of closeness to record an album and perform some of the old songs. João Gil and Luís Represas, forever friends in the music scene, joined both voices and guitars in an album, live shows and on a 4 month tour in Portugal which sold out in few days.
In 2012, João Gil joined a small musical ensemble, “Cantate”, to recreate a sung mass (in Latin, missa cantata) with songs written from liturgical texts in Latin. Luís Represas and Manuel Rebelo sung in “Missa Brevis”, a band which joined João Gil, guitar, Diana Vinagre, cello and Manuel Paulo, piano.
Two more projects followed: QUINTETO LISBOA and TAIS QUAIS.
The band TAIS QUAIS wanted to recreate the most genuine feeling of traditional music from Alentejo (Portugal). The band included Tim, Vitorino, Jorge Palma, João Gil, Celina da Piedade, Paulo Ribeiro and story teller and comedian, Jorge Serafim. The debut album was released by late 2015 and about one year later, a live CD/DVD release confirmed the bands’ quality.
QUINTETO LISBOA was created, once again, by old time friends, João Monge (lyrics) and João Gil (music and guitar). The duo invited two excellent musicians, José Peixoto (guitar) and Fernando Júdice (bass guitar), to which joined singers Paulo de Carvalho and Maria Berasarte.
After writing songs for Trovante, Ala dos Namorados, Filarmónica Gil, Rio Grande, Fados de Amor e Pecado and Baile Popular, songwriters João Monge and João Gil felt the need to create something that would demonstrate the “movement” for which they hope is going to become the “new Portuguese urban music”.
From Trovante to Filarmónica Gil, Ala dos Namorados, Rio Grande, Cabeças no Ar, Baile Popular or, more recently, Tais Quais or Quinteto Lisboa, João Gil’s life is a series of big hits which surpass the band’s visibility.
During his career as a musician, João Gil has created soundtracks for some Portuguese films, such as “Ao Sul”, by Fernando Matos Silva, “Rosa Negra”, “Flores Amargas” and “Adriana” by Adriana Gil.
He also worked in theatre and created music for theatre plays “O Ano do Pensamento Mágico”, “Sexo, Drogas e Rock n Roll” and, more recently, for the recital “Ode Marítima” – joining João Gil and actor Diogo Infante on stage. A music and poetry performance with huge success in Portugal and across borders.
During more than 40 years, João Gil stands out as the songwriter of some of Portugal’s best known songs: “Saudade”, “125 Azul”, “Loucos de Lisboa”, “Postal dos Correios”, to name a few. These are examples of his songs that became true popularity phenomena.
Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores (Portuguese Society of Authors) has more than 300 original works by João Gil, many of which are well known by the Portuguese people. “Timor”, which became more than a song, transformed itself in an anthem for freedom in East Timor.
In 2017, João Gil joined more than 30 Portuguese artists on a record which celebrates 40 years of songs: “João Gil Por…”. Ana Bacalhau, Carlão, Carlos do Carmo, Carminho, Jorge Palma, Luísa Sobral, Miguel Araújo, Pedro Abrunhosa, Raquel Tavares and Rui Veloso, are some of the Portuguese musicians invited by João Gil to perform more than 20 songs written by him – both new songs and old tracks that everyone knows. This record was also the perfect excuse for João Gil to get all of his former three bands back together: Trovante, Ala dos Namorados and Rio Grande.
After the album, there was a big live celebration coming. João Gil’s birthday was the ideal moment to bring all of his friends on stage in one memorable show, in order to share his songs with the audience.
Artists Ana Bacalhau, António Zambujo, Carlão, Celina da Piedade, Filipe Pinto, Miguel Araújo, Márcia, Pedro Abrunhosa, Rui Pregal da Cunha, Rui Veloso and Tatanka, joined Ala dos Namorados, Carminho, João Pedro Pais, Jorge Palma, Luís Represas, Manuel Faria, Rio Grande and Tiago Bettencourt in a unique show on December 14th 2017, in Campo Pequeno.