Barbra Streisand

  • Singer and songwriter born Barbara Streisand in 1942 from New York City, New York.
  • Streisand enjoyed singing as a child, and early in school she aspired to a career in acting. Her mother, a semi-professional soprano, initially did not think she had talent as a singer. Streisand auditioned as a singer for MGM records when she was 9 years old, though she was not chosen for anything. By 13, her mother started to support her interest in singing, and Barbra made a demo tape of 4 songs. She graduated from high school at 16, and immediately moved away from home to find acting roles on stage in New York, without success. Living in poverty, she’d take any job she could get.
  • In 1960, she was an usher at a Broadway theater, and she heard that the casting director was looking for more singers. She auditioned – she was not chosen, but the experience made her consider singing along with acting as a career. She entered a talent contest at a club in Greenwich Village, which she won. She was invited back to sing at the club for several weeks. At this time, she dropped the second ‘a’ from her first name, becoming Barbra.
  • By September 1960, she was singing at another club, making $125 a week, and she developed a stage presence that increased her popularity. She contracted with a manager, who set her up with performances in St. Louis and Detroit, and then at an upscale nightclub in Manhattan. She became a bigger hit there, and was encouraged to audition for the Broadway musical comedy I Can Get It For You Wholesale, in 1962. She landed a role, and her performances were successful, making her Broadway’s newest starlet at age 20. The soundtrack to the play was the first album that featured her singing that was available to the public.
  • She started to appear on talk shows like The Tonight Show and on variety shows hosted by Ed Sullivan and Bob Hope. By 1963, she was performing in Las Vegas. Her first album, The Barbra Streisand Album, was released that year. It made the top 10 of the Billboard album chart, and she won 2 Grammy awards. In 2006, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Later that year, she released The Second Barbra Streisand Album. It peaked at #2 on the album chart. Both of these albums featured her renditions of classic theater songs. With their success, she became the hottest women in pop music.
  • Streisand became prolific as a singer. Between 1964 and 1967, she released 2 albums each year. She also sang on the cast recording of the Broadway play Funny Girl in 1964, in which she had the starring role. The show included 2 songs that became signature songs for her – People and Don’t Rain On My Parade. Three of the albums during these years were certified platinum (her 1967 Christmas album was 5x platinum). All charted in the top 10 of the album charts, and 8 singles were in the top 10 of the Adult Contemporary chart, with People topping the chart, and reaching #5 on the Hot 100 chart.
  • The 70s were her most successful period. Five singles reached #1 on the Hot 100 chart – The Way We Were (1973), Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born) (1977), You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (a duet with Neil Diamond in 1978), No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) (a duet with Donna Summers in 1979), and Woman In Love (1980 – her biggest hit internationally, reaching #1 in 17 countries).
  • Her 4 studio albums in the 80s were all platinum sellers, with 1980’s Guilty reaching 5x platinum and 1985’s The Broadway Album reaching 4x platinum. The title track to Guilty, a duet with Barry Gibb, won a Grammy award. Ten more studio albums followed during the 90s, 00s and 10s, with an eleventh album due out in November 2018. Of these, 5 are platinum or multi-platinum, and 5 reached #1 on the album charts.
  • In her career, she has released 35 studio albums, 7 live albums and 15 soundtracks, plus numerous compilations. She is in the top 25 of the highest selling artists of all time.
  • During much of her singing career, she was active in acting on stage and screen. She was awarded an Oscar for Best Actress in the film Funny Girl and an Oscar for Best Song for Evergreen from the film The Way We Were. She also has won 9 Golden Globe Awards, including Best Actress awards for Funny Girl and The Way We Were, and Best Director and Best Motion Picture for Yentl.
  • Streisand is the rare recipient of awards in each of the major performance areas – she has won 10 Grammy awards, 2 Academy awards, 5 Emmy awards and a Special Tony award for Star of the Decade, awarded in 1970. Other awards include 4 Peabody awards, a Kennedy Center Honors prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the American Film Institute Life Achievement award, and the National Medal of Arts. She holds the all time record for the most top 10 albums by a female artist, with 34, and the most #1 albums by a woman, with 11. She is the only recording artist to have #1 albums in each of the last 6 decades.
  • An amazing career by a woman with one of the most powerful singing voices ever. Listen to her perform my favorite, The Way We Were. 

1 thought on “Barbra Streisand”

  1. While the 70’s may have been her most successful period, it pales in comparison with her early albums from the 60’s in my opinion. Her interpretation and delivery of the old standards continues to boggle my mind. How does she have that much breath and control? She actually started losing me when she started going too “pop”. Love the old Babs.

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