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Iconic Brazilian singer Gal Costa dies at 77

“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,” President-elect Luiz Inácio da Silva said.
Image: Brazilian singer Gal Costa at the Ariston Theatre in Sanremo during the 58th Italian Music Festival on Feb. 27, 2008.
Brazilian singer Gal Costa at the Ariston Theatre in Sanremo during the 58th Italian Music Festival on Feb. 27, 2008.Tiziana Fabi / AFP - Getty Images file
/ Source: Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO — Singer Gal Costa, an icon in the Tropicalia and Brazilian popular music movements who enjoyed a nearly six-decade career, died on Wednesday. She was 77.

Her death was confirmed by a press representative, who provided no further information.

The soprano with wild curls of dark hair was best known for lending her unique voice to compositions such as Ary Barroso’s “Aquarela do Brasil” (Watercolor of Brazil), Tom Jobim’s “Dindi,” Jorge Ben Jor’s “Que Pena” (What a Shame) and Caetano Veloso’s “Baby.”

“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,” President-elect Luiz Inácio da Silva wrote on Twitter alongside a photo of him hugging her. “Her talent, technique and courage enriched and renewed our culture, cradled and marked the lives of millions of Brazilians.”

Costa was born Maria da Graça Penna Burgos in the northeastern state of Bahia and came onto the scene alongside future legends Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Maria Bethânia.

All were already successful solo artists when they formed the band Doces Bárbaros. Their joint side project became an important counterculture reference during Brazil’s two-decade military dictatorship, inspiring a record, tour and documentary.

In 2011, Costa was awarded a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

She remained an active performer until nearly the end, having recently suspended shows to undergo a surgery on one of her nostrils. Her next concert had been scheduled for Dec. 17, in Sao Paulo.