Gal Costa Biography

Maria da Graca Costa Penna Burgos was born Gal Costa on September 26, 1945, and she passed away on November 9, 2022.   Gal Costa was a Brazilian singer of popular music. She was a leading role in Brazil’s tropicalia music scene in the late 1960s, and she had an appearance on the critically praised compilation Tropicália: ou Panis et Circenses (1968)


Early life

Gal Costa was born on September 26th, 1945 in the city of Salvador, which is the capital of the state of Bahia in Brazil. [3] Gal Costa’s parents were both of Portuguese descent. Her mother, Mariah Costa Penna, who passed away in 1993, spent hours during her pregnancy listening to classical music in the hopes that Gal would develop an interest in music. [Citation needed] Gal’s father, Arnaldo Burgos, who passed away in 1960, passed away when Gal was 15 years old, so the two never met.

At the age of ten, Gal made friends with Sandra and Andréia Gadelha, who would later marry singer-songwriters Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, respectively. Sandra and Andréia Gadelha were the future wives of Gilberto Gil. Her introduction to bossa nova started when she was 14 years old and heard Joo Gilberto’s “Chega de Saudade” played on the radio for the first time. After that, she got a job working as a clerk in the primary record store in Salvador in order to get even more involved with music. At the age of 18, she was put in contact with Caetano Veloso by Andréa Gadelha, and the two quickly became good friends.


At the event titled “Nós, por exemplo” (We, For Example) on the evening of the 22nd of August 1964, Gal made her debut as a professional musician. She performed at the concert among other musicians such as Gil, Veloso, Maria Bethania, and Tom Zé. The event served as the grand opening for the newly renovated Vila Velha Theatre in her hometown. She also gave performances in Nova Bossa Velha, Velha Bossa Nova (New Old Wave, Old New Wave) during the same year, at the same venue, and with the same singing partners. After that, she moved to Rio de Janeiro to live with her cousin Nvea, following in the footsteps of Bethania, whose concert Opinio (Opinion) had been a major success in that city. She had previously lived in Salvador.

The recording of Gal’s first song to be released commercially was included on Bethania’s first album, which was released in 1965. It was the duet “Sol Negro,” also known as “Black Sun,” which was penned by Caetano Veloso, Bethania’s brother. The song “Eu vim da Bahia,” which was written by Gil, and the song “Sim, foi você,” which was written by Veloso, were the first singles that she released through RCA Records. The following year, Gal made a personal introduction to Gilberto and took part in TV Rio’s 1st International Music Festival, where she performed “Minha Senhora,” a song that she and Torquato Neto had written together. The audience at the Festival was not interested in seeing it at all.

Domingo was the title of Gal’s debut album, which was released by Philips Records in 1967. It was also Veloso’s first performance ever. Up until 1983, Gal remained signed to the label, which would subsequently become PolyGram. The song “Coracao Vagabundo” was taken from this album and went on to become an enormous hit. During the same year, Gal also gave performances of two songs at the 2nd International Music Festival, which was organized and sponsored at the time by Rede Globo. They were titled “Bom Dia” and “Dadá Maria,” and they were composed by Gil and Nana Caymmi and Renato Teixeira, respectively. This latter piece was played during the Festival by Teixeira and Slvio César, respectively, and was also featured on the album.

In 1965, Costa started recording unaltered versions of songs originally performed by Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso.

In 1968, Gal joined the tropicalia movement that was becoming popularity at the time. Samba, Bossa Nova, and more contemporary music styles such as rock and beat are all elements that go into creating tropicalia. [5] She contributed a total of four songs to the album Tropicália: or Panis and Circenses. These songs were “Mame courage,” which was written by Veloso and Torquato Neto, “Parque industrial,” which was written by Tom Zé, “Enquanto seu lobon’t vem,” which was written by Veloso, and “Baby,” which was written by Veloso as well. The latter song ended up being one of Costas’s most well-known works. During the same year, she took part in the 3rd International Music Festival, when she gave a performance of “Gabriela Mais Bela,” a song that was composed by Roberto and Erasmo Carlos. She took part in the 4th Music Festival hosted by Rede Record in November, when she gave a performance of the song “Divino Maravilhoso,” which was written by Gil and Veloso. In addition, the song achieved widespread success and is now considered a timeless piece of popular music. During the time when Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso were forced to live in exile in London, she continued to perform their music while paying visits to each of them in London. However, she never left Brazil.

The year 1969 marked the publication of Gal’s self-titled debut solo album, which featured the songs “Baby” and “Divino Maravilhoso.” The record is regarded as a classic of the Tropicalismo genre due to its harmonious combination of psychedelic influences from North America with Brazilian musical motifs. In addition to that, it featured Gal’s third and fourth solo hits, Jorge Ben Jor’s “Que pena (Ele já no gosta más de mim)” and Veloso’s “No identificado,” respectively. Both of these songs were composed by Veloso. Her second solo album, which she titled Gal and which featured the songs “Meu nome é Gal” by Roberto and Erasmo Carlos and “Cinema Olympia” by Veloso, was also recorded in the same year. The performance Gal! was based its repertoire on the record, which served as the basis for the concert.

Her subsequent album, Legal, was not as far off from the mainstream as its predecessor, and an album of live performances released the following year once again struck a balance between the sweet sounds of Brazilian music and the harder sounds of rock. The cover of Costa’s album “ndia” was deemed inappropriate for release in 1973[6] due to its focus on the woman’s red bikini bottom. Gal has recorded versions of songs written by several of Brazil’s most well-known songwriters, including Tom Jobim, Ben, and Erasmo Carlos, among others. During the 1970s, she was an integral member of the band Doces Barbaros, along with other notable figures such as Veloso, Gil, and Maria Bethania. It had been hoped for years that this iconic ensemble from Brazilian popular music would get back together again. The single “Festa Do Interior,” which was included on the double album Fantasia, became her most successful release to date in 1982 and was certified multi-platinum by the end of the year. In the movie The Mandarin (O Mandarim), which came out in 1995, Gal played the role of the singer Carmen Miranda. She has recorded songs in not only English but also Portuguese and Spanish.

In the biopic that will be released in 2023, Sophie Charlotte will play the role of Gal Costa.



2011 Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

Personal life

Gal was bisexual. She was enamoured of Marina Lima in the 1990s.


Gal died in São Paulo on 9 November 2022, at the age of 77.  She was recovering from an extraction of a nodule of her nasal cavity and had canceled her show at the Primavera Sound.


Studio albums

  • 1965: Maria da Graça (EP)
  • 1967: Domingo (with Caetano Veloso)
  • 1969: Gal Costa
  • 1969: Gal
  • 1970: Legal
  • 1971: -Fa-Tal- Gal a Todo Vapor
  • 1973: Índia
  • 1974: Cantar
  • 1975: Gal Canta Caymmi
  • 1977: Caras e Bocas
  • 1978: Água Viva
  • 1979: Gal Tropical
  • 1980: Aquarela do Brasil
  • 1981: Fantasia
  • 1982: Minha Voz
  • 1983: Baby Gal
  • 1983: Trilha Sonora do Filme ‘Gabriela’
  • 1984: Profana
  • 1985: Bem Bom
  • 1987: Lua de Mel Como o Diabo Gosta
  • 1990: Plural
  • 1992: Gal
  • 1994: O Sorriso do Gato de Alice
  • 1995: Mina D’Água do Meu Canto
  • 1998: Aquele Frevo Axé
  • 2001: Gal de Tantos Amores
  • 2002: Gal Bossa Tropical
  • 2004: Todas as Coisas e Eu
  • 2005: Hoje 
  • 2011: Recanto
  • 2015: “Estratosférica”
  • 2018: “A Pele do Futuro”
  • 2021: “Nenhuma Dor”

Live albums 

  • 1971: -Fa-Tal- Gal a Todo Vapor
  • 1976: Doces Bárbaros (with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Maria Bethânia)
  • 1986: Jazzvisions: Rio Revisited (with Antonio Carlos Jobim)
  • 1997: Acústico MTV
  • 1999: Gal Costa Canta Tom Jobim Ao Vivo
  • 2006: Gal Costa Live at the Blue Note
  • 2006: Gal Costa Ao Vivo
  • 2013: Recanto Ao Vivo


  • 1968: “Baby”
  • 1969: “Que Pena (Ela Já Não Gosta Mais De Mim)”
  • 1970: “Meu Nome É Gal”
  • 1970: “London, London”