Brazil’s Most Popular Singer

Gal Costa, legendary Brazilian singer, has died at age 77 in Paris. He had been battling heart failure, according to the singer who grew up in Brazil during the military dictatorship of 1964-85.

The singer was born on Oct. 14, 1940, in Parauapebas, just south of São Paulo. The first-generation Brazilian musician, whose music is steeped in Afro-Brazilian traditional soul and funk, left his home in Para to study literature at the age of 19. He never returned.

In the early 1960s, as Brazil was being divided into Brazil under military rule and Brazil under democracy, Costa went on to become a leading figure in the pop world.

The singer was inducted into the Rock Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, and he also featured on their 50th Anniversary compilation, a disc that also included recordings with his daughter Ana.

In a 2000 interview, he told the Associated Press that it was his music that brought him to the United States. Asked about when he chose to become a star in Brazil, he replied: “I don’t know why it lasted so long. I don’t even know when I left Brazil.”

He came to fame with his 1966 single and 1971 follow-up “Babylon,” the latter of which was released on French label Les Disques du Disque, known for its funk and Brazilian soul artists like Milton Nascimento, Caeti, Tom Zé, Péricles de Mafra, Luiz Bonfa, and Roberto Carlos.

He continued to perform and release more singles and albums during the 1970s. His biggest seller was the 1976 album “Brazil,” which spawned the hits “Baba” and “Bailes.”

Most of his hits were written by Costa and his longtime lyricist Manuel Heitor. He also had songwriting and or producing collaborators including Leandro Almeida, Roberto Carlos, Gilberto Gil, and Pingo de la Sarita.

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