In more than 55 years of her career, Costa released 40-plus albums — four of which have been nominated for Latin Grammys in the best Musica Popular Brasileira album category.
By Beatriz Miranda
Singer Gal Costa, one of the iconic voices from the 1960s generation of Música Popular Brasileira, died in São Paulo on Wednesday morning (Nov. 9). She was 77 years old. Costa’s death happened while she was taking a break from performing after surgery to remove a nodule in her nasal cavity. The cause of her death remains undisclosed.
A Bahian-born singer known for her unparalleled vocal timbre, Costa was one of the few female artists who was part of Tropicália, a late 1960s cultural movement that — by celebrating the combination of Brazil’s cultural traditions with foreign influences — changed paradigms and echoes until this day.
Along with names like Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and Rita Lee, Costa was part of a group of artists who in 1968 recorded Tropicália’s album manifesto, Tropicalia Ou Panis et Circenses. Considered one of the most important Brazilian albums of all time, Panis et Circenses was also also pivotal for Costa’s musical career. Following the album’s release, she was widely referred to as the “muse of the Tropicália.”
“Tropicália was a big discovery to me. I used to hear Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and I felt like it was time to break with everything I considered ‘sacred,’ which was singing like João Gilberto. Every youngster that makes music today looks to Tropicália,” Costa said in 2015 in an interview for Folha de São Paulo.
In more than 55 years of her career, Costa released 40-plus albums — including the iconic Fa-tal- Gal a Todo Vapor (1971) and Índia (1973) — four of which have been nominated for Latin Grammys in the best Musica Popular Brasileira album category. In 2011, Costa was also honored with a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. One of Costa’s recent music partners was the late sertanejo star Marília Mendonça, with whom she recorded the single “Cuidando de Longe” in 2018.
Among the many Brazilian personalities who have paid tribute to the late MPB artist is Brazil’s newly elected president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. On his Twitter account, the politician described her as “one of the world’s biggest singers.”
“Her talent, technique, and boldness enriched and renewed our culture, and marked the lives of millions of Brazilians,” he said.
Gal Costa foi das maiores cantoras do mundo, das nossas principais artistas a levar o nome e os sons do Brasil para todo o planeta. Seu talento, técnica e ousadia enriqueceu e renovou nossa cultura, embalou e marcou a vida de milhões de brasileiros.
— Lula (@LulaOficial) November 9, 2022