Legendary Brazilian singer Gal Costa dies at 77

Gal Costa (1945-2022). Photo: A. Paes/Shutterstock
Gal Costa (1945-2022). Photo: A. Paes/Shutterstock

Recognized as one of the greatest singers in the history of Brazilian pop music, Gal Costa died on Wednesday morning, aged 77.

She had recently canceled a concert at the Primavera Sound festival in São Paulo, with medical orders to rest after she had a nodule removed from her nasal cavity. Costa had planned to return to touring in December.

Gal Costa is perhaps best known for her contribution to Tropicália, a brief yet hugely influential Brazilian counterculture movement in the late 1960s, encapsulating music, film, poetry, art, and theater.

Portrayed as subversive during Brazil’s military dictatorship, on the musical front Tropicália sought to marry popular local rhythms with rock and avant-garde psychedelia.

Gal Costa collaborated on the 1968 studio album Tropicália: ou Panis et Circensis, along with fellow greats Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Tom Zé, and psychedelic rock band Os Mutantes. The record was treated as the Tropicália movement’s manifesto and would go on to receive worldwide acclaim. 

In the post-Tropicália period, Gal Costa — along with many of her cohorts — would go on to achieve great national success by veering toward pop music, with her 1971 live album Fa-Tal regarded as one of the greatest MPB (Brazilian Popular Music) records of all time.

She is survived by her son, Gabriel.