Look: Singer pays tribute to legendary musician father in captivating performance at Abu Dhabi

Bebel Gilberto shows a powerful demonstration of the unifying power of music, effortlessly transcending the boundaries of language and culture

by

Ahmed Waqqas Alawlaqi

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Published: Tue 10 Oct 2023, 6:07 PM

Last updated: Sat 10 Feb 2024, 9:01 AM

The NYUAD Arts Center in Abu Dhabi recently transformed into a vibrant hub for music and cultural enthusiasts worldwide. Amidst the gathering, attention centred on the spotlight illuminating Bebel Gilberto. Her enchanting voice filled the venue, creating a captivating and magical atmosphere.

The evening unfolded as a seamless celebration, highlighting the universal language of Bossa nova. Central to this enchanting experience was a heartfelt tribute to João Gilberto, the legendary father of Bebel Gilberto and an iconic figure in the world of music. The performance went beyond music; it was a communion of souls, bridging the past with the present.


Drawing from her recently released album, "João”, Bebel Gilberto declared her love for her father through her music. The album itself was a treasure trove of melodies that João Gilberto had cherished, songs that resonated with him on a deeply personal level. Bebel's interpretation added a contemporary artistic layer to these timeless classics. Bill Bragin, the director of the Arts Center, offered his perspective on the performance: "It was a very personal show, evident in her conversations between songs. Bebel skillfully wove some of the most important songs from the Bossa Nova songbook, created by her father, along with her own original compositions."

Gilberto, known for her smooth Portuguese lyrics that painted vivid emotions, occasionally ventured into a linguistic realm that many in the audience couldn't fully comprehend. However, what was revealed was a powerful demonstration of the unifying power of music, effortlessly transcending the boundaries of language and culture.


As Bebel addressed the audience in Portuguese, her warm and inviting presence enveloped the room. It was as though her words, though foreign to many, carried a universal message of love, joy, and celebration. Her charisma, honed through years of performing on international stages, effortlessly reached out to every soul in attendance.

The crowd was enchanted as Bebel playfully interacted with them in a call-and-response during the bossa nova melodies. Amid whimsical gibberish, met with joyful echoes from the audience, a unique connection unfolded.

Yet, it was in the extended hours of her singing that it became clear Bebel Gilberto spoke not in Portuguese, but in the language of the heart—an understanding embraced by all present. Bill Bragin summed it up, saying, "Her performance was magnificent; her sublime voice and expressive phrasing transcended language barriers, making the experience truly extraordinary for all, regardless of Portuguese fluency."

A platform serving cultural diversity, the NYUAD Arts Center is renowned for its long-standing commitment towards celebrating humanity, diversity, and the promotion of cultural exchange. They welcome artists from all around the globe, offering a space for them to share their talent and express their views through music & art. Hosting events like “Songs My Father Loved” reflects the center’s mission to bridge cultures, providing a platform for artists and audiences to connect on a more personal level, with a universal language called ‘Art.’

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