Manhattan Gets a Chance to Hear Gal, a Brazilian Legend

    Brazilian singing legend Gal Costa

    Brazilian singing legend Gal CostaOne of the most memorable concerts I recall attending in Brazil was Gal Costa’s Unplugged Tour in 1998, in which she played songs from the album of the same name that featured songs from the MTV Special.

    In Brazil, there is a lot is invested on these programs, and to tour in promotion of the album is quite usual there. I remember how comfortable she seemed to be playing in a more intimate setting even though it was a very large concert hall in Fortaleza and how excited the audience was, singing along to the hits from the CD, which was getting a lot of radio airplay at the time.

    Costa has had a long history in the realm of Brazilian music. As part of the Tropicália movement in the late 60s with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes and others, she loaned her crystal-clear voice to provocative political songs such as Veloso’s "Divino Maravilhoso" (Divine, Wonderful) while also courting a sweeter side in tunes such as "Lost in Paradise" and "Namorinho de Portão" (Courtship at The Gate).

    During the 70s and 80s, Costa was always treading the line between being controversial and mainstream – albums like índia, in which she appeared topless on the cover, drew much negative attention, while songs like "Só Louco" or "Gabriela" became instant hits, often being included on the soundtracks of Brazil’s telenovelas.

    Having a song on the soaps is a big deal there, and it can help boost a musician’s radio airplay.

    She also got a mixed reaction from the public when she bared her breasts in the mid-90s during one of her tours – encouraged by theatrical director Gerald Thomas, she opened her blouse for the song "Brasil", a composition by the late Cazuza.

    More recently, Costa has relied on safer material. On her last NYC appearance at Carnegie Hall in 2001, she performed bossa-nova standards on the heels of her Gal Sings Jobim album like "Desafinado" and "Wave".

    On her latest album, Hoje, she turns into edgier material under the production of Cesar Camargo Mariano, she turns into more obscure material by contemporary composers such as Lokua Kanza and Zé Miguel Wisnik.

    At the Blue Note, we should expect a mix of the classics with new material. Her website lists her show here as "Gal Costa in Concert", not "Hoje." Also expect long lines, since these are her only U.S. dates at the moment. Do not miss it.

    Gal Costa
    Appearing at The Blue Note
    131 W 3rd Street
    New York NY
    May 16-21
    Sets at 8 and 10:30 PM
    For tickets and more information
    log on to
    http://www.bluenote.net

    ———–

    It’s Mother’s Day this weekend, and The Brazilian Community at The Church of Our Lady of Pompeii has a special program fot this Sunday, May 14: Following a special commemorative mass at 1:30 pm, there will be a potluck party, and everyone’s invited.

    Just bring in a dish and join us after the mass. The church is located on Carmine Street (corner of Bleecker), near 6th Avenue. For more information, contact Father Vincenzo Oronchi at vincenzoronchi@aol.com or call the church’s offices at (212) 989-6805

    Ernest Barteldes is a freelance writer based on Staten Island, New York. He is a regular contributor to The Miami New Times, Brazzil, The New York Press, Global Rhythm magazine and All About Jazz-NY. He is also a columnist with The Brasilians and The Greenwich Village Gazette. His work has also appeared on The Staten Island Advance, The Florida Review (in Portuguese), Today’s Latino (in Spanish), Out Magazine, The New York Blade, The Boston Bay Windows, The New Times BPB, The Village Voice and other publications. He can be reached at ebarteldes@yahoo.com.

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