Artist Profiles: Gal Costa

Gal Costa

Maria da Graça Costa Penna Burgos, better known as Gal Costa, was born September 26, 1945 in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

She is not just an incredible singer, she is the face of a political movement that took place in Brazil during the late 1960s. Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes, Gilberto Gil, and Tom Ze formed the core of the musical movement Tropicalia, which began as a protest to the oppressive military and the bland commercial music of Brazil during that time. With the military coup of 1964 as the catalyst, these musicians created art that is now considered legendary in Brazil.

In the 1970s, Gal’s career took off with controversial albums such as India, considered one of her finest albums. With its lush arrangements, the aid of Gilberto Gil as musical director, and a divisive cover album, India was a classic of the genre.

Not even the turbulent times she experienced side by side with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, and other iconoclasts of the Tropicália movement could spoil her true enthusiasm for the classic bossa novas and soft sambas of Jobim and Gilberto. Composer, arranger, pianist, and singer Tom Jobim made no secret of it that he thought Gal Costa was the most versatile of all the female singers who have interpreted his songs. Gal Costa fell in love with the music of Tom Jobim (and João Gilberto) when she was still a teenager.

After an involvement in commercial music during the 1980s, Gal went back to her roots, performing songs by famous Brazilian composers like Jobim.

Through the years, Gal Costa and Tom Jobim shared the stage on various occasions. Just before Jobim’s untimely death in 1994 the two of them made plans to join forces for a new record. With Gal Costa Canta Tom Jobim, Gal Costa paid a wonderful tribute to her late friend, mentor, and musical partner.

With a little help from producer Marco Mazzola and José Possi Neto she selected for this double album 24 gems from the vast repertoire (about 60 songs) she presented on stage: songs from the pre-bossa era, lesser known tunes from the composer’s later periods, and, of course, inevitable standards like “Garota De Ipanema”, “Desafinado”, “Chega De Saudade, and “Corcovado.” By that, Gal Costa Canta Tom Jobim turns out to be a Jobim songbook of lasting value, like those Ella Fitzgerald recorded of the great American songwriters Cole Porter and George Gershwin.

Over the years, she has released numerous successful albums, including Hoje, Todas As Coisas E Eu, Gal Bossa Tropical, De Tantos Amores, the aforementioned Gal Costa Canta Tom Jobim, Gal Canta Caymmi, Gal Costa, Gal, Bem Bom and O Sorriso Do Gato De Alice.

In 2006, Costa released Live at the Blue Note on DRG, an album comprised of classics that are dear to the vocalist’s heart. “I feel like I’m in your living room,” said Costa to a sold-out audience during one of 12 shows in the spring of 2006 at the Blue Note.


Maria da Graça (1965)
Domingo with Caetano Veloso (1967)
Gal Costa (1969)
Gal (1969)
Legal (1970)
Índia (1973)
Cantar (1974)
Gal Canta Caymmi (1975)
Doces Bárbaros, live with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Maria Bethânia (1976)
Caras e Bocas (1977)
Água Viva (1978)
Gal Tropical (1979)
Aquarela do Brasil (1980)
Fantasia (1981)
Minha Voz (1982)
Baby Gal (1983)
Trilha Sonora do Filme ‘Gabriela’ (1983)
Profana (1984)
Bem Bom (1985)
Jazzvisions Rio Revisited (1986)
Lua de Mel Como o Diabo Gosta (1987)
Plural (1990)
Gal (1992)
O Sorriso do Gato de Alice (1994)
Mina D’Água do Meu Canto (1995)
Acústico MTV (1997)
Aquele Frevo Axé (1998)
Canta Tom Jobim Ao Vivo (1999)
Gal de Tantos Amores (2001)
Gal Bossa Tropical (2002)
Todas as Coisas e Eu (2004)
Gal Costa Live at the Blue Note (2006)
Recanto (2011)
Recanto Ao Vivo (2013)
Estratosférica (2015)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


One thought on “Artist Profiles: Gal Costa”

  1. Essa mulher foi incrível, ela nos ajudou contra os militares opressores, graças a ela e outro cantores conseguimos nos livrar da ditadura.

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