The great Gal Costa, whose incredible singing and proto-punk mindset was key to defining the Brazilian Tropicália art movement of the late 1960s, died yesterday at age 77. While informed by bossa nova, her expansive style blended psychedelia, soul, and jazz that continues to influence contemporary artists decades later.
"You have to be attentive and strong," Costa famously sang. "We don't have time to fear death."
From the New York Times:
Ms. Costa's voice, a lustrous mezzo-soprano, was a marvel of grace and vitality, equally capable of gravity-defying delicacy, tart teasing, jazzy agility and rock intensity. Over a recording career that spanned more than 50 years and three dozen albums, she championed innovative Brazilian songwriters and cross-fertilized Brazilian regional styles with international pop and rock.
In the 1960s, Ms. Costa was at the forefront of tropicália, the movement that brought psychedelic experimentation and anti-authoritarian irreverence to Brazilian pop music. When the leading songwriters of tropicália, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, were forced into exile by Brazil's dictatorship, from 1969 to 1972, Ms. Costa recorded their songs for Brazilian listeners.
"It was not a matter of courage," she told The New York Times in 1985. "I belonged to that movement, and they were my friends."