Brazilian pop singer Gal Costa died on Wednesday at her home in São Paulo. She was 77.
The news was delivered via her social media accounts, and no immediate cause of death was cited. Her mezzo-soprano voice was a defining sound of the 1960s Brazilian tropicália music scene. Her recording career spanned more 50 years, and she produced over three dozen albums. Gal saw her professional debut in 1964 at the concert Nós, por exemplo. She performed alongside Veloso, Gil, Maria Bethânia, and Tom Zé, among others.
Her first professional recording happened on Bethânia’s debut album, released in 1965. Costa then released her first singles through RCA Records, including “Eu vim da Bahia” written by Gil, and “Sim, foi você,” written by Veloso. Her first album Domingo was released in 1967 through Philips Records, where she stayed until 1983.
Gal Costa recorded unedited songs from Giberto Gil and Caetano Veloso after they were forced into exile by Brazil’s dictatorship from 1969 to 1972. “It was not a matter of courage,” Costa said of her actions to The New York Times in 1985. “I belonged to that movement, and they were my friends.”
She received the Latin Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2011. “Gal Costa was among the world’s best singers, among our principal artists to carry the name and sounds of Brazil to the whole planet,” shared Brazil’s president-elect, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. “Her talent, technique, and courage enriched and renewed our culture, shaped and marked the lives of millions of Brazilians.”
Gal Costa was a prolific singer and songwriter in the 1970s, building a catalog of hits that drew from her tropicália songwriter friends. She made her first debut in the United States at Carnegie Hall in 1985 but never set her sights on touring the United States. Her most recent album Nenhuma Dor released in 2021 and was a series of duets recorded during the pandemic with Seu Jorge, Rodrigo Amarante, and Jorge Drexler.