Diamanda Galás (b. 1955) grew up in San Diego with her Anatolian and Greek parents. She studied a wide range of musical forms as well as visual art performance. Classically trained in jazz piano, Galás performed a piano solo with the San Diego Symphony at age 14. College studies in biochemistry and graduate work in neurochemistry influenced her music. She said, It trains you in seeing things as paradigms, seeing large situations; it influences the way you perceive things, how things work."
Galás' albums are largely thematic, addressing such topics as AIDS, imprisonment, sexual oppression, dementia, and torture. She gained widespread attention in 1991 when she recorded her album Plague Mass live in the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York. Plague Mass was a requiem for AIDS sufferers and an attack on society, particularly the Catholic Church, for its indifference to AIDS. At the time, Galás had We are all HIV+" tattooed on her knuckles. Her brother, playwright Philip-Dimitri Galás, died from AIDS in 1986.
Galás has collaborated with many musicians, including Led Zeppelin's bassist John Paul Jones to produce The Sporting Life. Galás is also known within the film industry where she was the voice for the dead in the Serpent and the Rainbow, a group of vampires in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, and a witch in John Milius's Conan the Barbarian. She is the author of The Shit of God, and lives in New York.