Barbra Streisand

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October 2009

Actress, singer, director, producer, composer, activist, philanthropist. Broadway, Hollywood, Television, Recordings. Tony, Oscar, Emmy, Grammy awards.

Her name is Barbra. It all began at a talent contest in Greenwich Village, leading to club engagements in New York City and around the country. Her voice has been her entree into every aspect of the entertainment world.

But the voice alone, unique as it has always been, was only part of what made her a must-see performer. She always said she was an “actress who sings” and she brought an actress’ instinct and skill to the interpretation of the lyrics, telling the song’s story in a new and exciting way. The combination of her powerful, multi-colored voice and deep understanding of the lyrics introduced audiences to a unique style of singing.

Think of some of her best film moments (“My Man”; “Papa, Can You Hear Me?”) for proof that the singer is best served by the actress. She was a trailblazer in other ways. She certainly didn’t fit the mold of the typical girl singer: not in looks, dress, or attitude. She broke that mold and made it possible for the likes of Cher, Bette Midler, and even Madonna. She has mellowed over the years, the voice more refined, the interpretations deeper. But in concert, without the technology of the recording studio, what made her a star is evident. As Stephen Holden wrote in 1994, “Barbra in concert is Barbra at her best.” Indeed!

For a lucky few, Barbra returned to her nightclub roots with a performance at the Village Vanguard in September, proving, once again, it’s best never to second-guess Streisand. The occasion was the celebration of her latest recording, Love Is the Answer, on which she is backed by Diana Krall and her quartet. With her return to a small Greenwich Village club, this is the perfect time to name Barbra Streisand to The Cabaret Hall of Fame.