Angela Costa, 54, Tribeca musician and writer
‘All That Jazz’
(An excerpt from Angela J. Costa’s poem, “All That Jazz”)
Every musician knows there is
nothing greater than the sound
of the song moving through space finding
its place in someone else’s heart all
art is a love affair
all love longs
for a song
for the breath to blow 12 bars of blues solo into
Angela J. Costa, a long time Tribeca resident and musician/writer/poet in the New York arts scene, died of cancer on Jan. 18th. She was 54.
In the 1990s, Costa was a regular at the Nuyorican Poets Café, where Allen Ginsberg made a surprise appearance, saying to her after her performance, “It was really a pleasure to share the stage with you,” and CBGB, where owner Hilly Krystal became a mentor.
Legendary songwriter Laura Nyro, a friend and fan, often attended her performances.
She lived the last 21 years in Independence Plaza with her life partner, Elizabeth Primamore. The Downtown art scene first drew them to the neighborhood, Primamore said. In recent years, Costa became more and more concerned that artists were getting pushed out of Tribeca and that “Downtown was losing it’s creative edge and becoming too upscale,” Primamore said.
Costa published a book of short verse, “1,000 Reasons You Might Think She is My Lover.” Her last work, a play, titled “New Years’ Resolution,” was debuted at the HB Playwrights Theater on Bank St. in December as part of a festival of holiday plays. At the time of her death, she was collaborating on a musical, “Jackson Road,” named after one of her songs.
With painter Don Kommit, Costa founded the Silk City Poets in Paterson, N.J., a poetry performance group in the early 1970s. She received the William Carlos Williams Poetry Award in 1975, and, in New York, studied with Diane Wakowski and Ntozake Shange. Various literary magazines and anthologies (Black Creation, Diversitas and Howling Dog) published her work. She often read on WBAI (“Ghosts in the Machine”) and appeared on Manhattan Cable’s “Radio Thin Air.”
Her life in poetry soon became a life in music. With writing partner, guitarist Liz Lamar, she formed a number of bands, most notably Run Girl Run, Angel and the Drunken Gods and Presents of Mind. Working with producer Mark Kamins (Madonna, Sinead O’Connor), she released her first single, “Hallelujah Dance,” in 1985. Three more recordings were to follow, the last a solo U.K. Release, “Soul Disease” (1997). Her bands played virtually every club Downtown from The Knitting Factory to The Ritz to The Pyramid Club.
Angela Joann Costa was born to Fred and Marianna Costa on June 13, 1953 in Haledon, New Jersey. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the William Paterson College and studied music and writing at The Julliard School, New York University, and The New School. She taught English at adult and neighborhood centers in the city before becoming a full time poet, writer and musician.
In addition to Primamore, Costa is survived by many friends.