Brazil: the pain of a silence

Gal Costa’s first name was immense: Maria da Graça Costa Penna Burgos. Far more immense—indeed, infinite—was the beauty of her luminous voice, crystal and moon, wind and sun.

On Wednesday, November 9, that voice was silenced forever. And faced with that sudden silence, Brazil was submerged in a tide of sadness. My country was also silent, a silence full of pain and absence.

I remember the appearance of Gal, a beautiful, skinny, delicate girl. Her voice had a perfect timbre, an angelic pitch, and she sang in the footsteps of João Gilberto, the soul of the Bossa Nova of master Tom Jobim. He was overwhelmingly shy in those first presentations. Her first album – in those now remote times they were called “LP” – was also the premiere of another Bahian like her, Caetano Veloso.

It was the rise of an unrepeatable generation, made up of Chico Buarque, Edu Lobo, Milton Nascimento and another eternal Bahian, Gilberto Gil. It was the time when singers like Ellis Regina and Maria Bethania, also from Bahia, turned the Brazilian popular music scene upside down with echoes on several beaches around the world.

I remember his voice with an absolute timbre singing Caetano’s verses that said It is necessary, oh sweet lover; stay firm on the road / that does not carry any pain. / My sweet and sad lover / my idolized beloved / hail and save our love.

That Olympian ingenuity, allied to a very delicate melody, took flight towards eternity in Gal’s voice. He rejuvenated the old and set fire to the soul of the young. And there it was always with Gal in everything he sang.

Yes, yes, I am from the generation that saw Gal Costa emerge, beautiful, haughty, owner of an unparalleled voice. I remember how in a very short time Gal’s image and voice spread to all generations of Brazilians, those who came before and those who came after mine.

Very discreet in her private life, she has been radically revolutionary on stage, defying the censorship of the military when Caetano, Gilberto Gil and Chico Buarque embittered exile. And she challenged not only with her songs, but with her attitude, her daring under the lights of the theaters.

It still seems incredible to me how such a star was very reserved in his personal life and absolutely explosive on stage. She was under the spotlight for decades, she impacted audiences with her extremely sensual clothes, with her daring in the face of the censorship of the dictatorship, her repertoire that is increasingly broad and free of labels. And from her intimacy it is known that she was married to a musician for barely two years, and she had romantic partners that ranged from famous actresses to anonymous women. Now, with her departure, the name of her last partner was known, a relationship of years covered by silence.

He encouraged new authors, gave new life to songs by Chico, Tom Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Edu Lobo, and his countrymen. With Caetano, Gil and Bethania she joined the Dulces Bárbaros quartet, she was the muse of the “Tropicalista” movement, which changed the musical scene in Brazil. She knew how to be avant-garde while rescuing classic songs from previous decades and decades. She revealed authors who became stars of the songbook. She loved to sing. And, singing, she charmed crowds.

Yes, yes, it has been a voice of crystal and light that has been able to interpret and describe Brazil and Brazilians over time.

I met her when she was still performing as Maria da Graça and starting out in São Paulo. We hardly had any contact since then. Life things.

But when I heard of his departure, I immediately felt an abyss opening in my soul. And that abyss will remain open, immense, for the times to come.

Thank you, Maria da Graça! Thanks Gal! See you always!

Brazil: the pain of a silence