Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b Barbara Joan Streisand, 24 April 1942, Brooklyn, NY) Singer, actress, screenwriter, film director; one of the biggest stars of the era: association with Columbia records for more than 20 years except for original cast album of Funny Girl '64 on Capitol and soundtrack of Hello, Dolly! '69 on 20th Century (later on Casablanca). Thirty-seven albums charted in Billboard '63-84 including these and other soundtracks; 30 singles '63-82 plus duets with Neil Diamond (no. 1 hit 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers' '78), Donna Summer (no. 1 hit 'No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)' '79), Barry Gibbs (top ten 'Guilty', 'What Kind Of Fool' '80-81). Many hits in UK too, but nothing like as many: her complete showbusiness talent and personality are indubitably American.

She began in amateur productions, then off-Broadway in Another Evening With Harry Stoons, on Broadway as Miss Marmelstein in I Can Get It For You Wholesale '62 (where she met husband Elliott Gould); was chosen to play Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (also in film version '68). First LP The Barbra Streisand Album went top ten, including her showstopping version of hoop-de-do '29 song 'Happy Days Are Here Again', performed as a slow ballad. Her next seven albums were all top five: Second and Third '63-4, People '64 with top five title single (song from Funny Girl by Bob Merrill and Jule Styne; single won Grammy for arrangement by Peter Maltz and for Best Female Vocal Performance), My Name Is Barbra and My Name Is Barbra, Two '65, Color Me Barbra and Je m'appelle Barbra '66; the Funny Girl original cast LP was also top five; other '60s albums all big hits: Simply Streisand, Funny Girl soundtrack, A Happening In Central Park, What About Today?, Hello, Dolly! film soundtrack (show starred Carol Channing on Broadway '64). Biggest hits among later albums were Stoney End '71 (no. 6 title single), Barbra Joan Streisand '71, Live Concert At The Forum '72, The Way We Were '74 (no. 1 album was not the film soundtrack but included the no. 1 hit single of film theme), Butterfly '74, Funny Lady '75 (soundtrack of sequel to Funny Girl), Lazy Afternoon '75, A Star Is Born '76 (with Kris Kristofferson, her then boyfriend: soundtrack of second remake of '37 film Evergreen, but see Judy Garland), Streisand Superman '77 (incl. no. 4 hit 'My Heart Belongs To Me'), Songbird '78, Barbra Streisand's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (no. 1 LP, no. 1 in UK also, including the big duet with Diamond), The Main Event '79 (soundtrack including hit title single, others by various artists), Wet '79 (including duet with Summer), compilation Memories '81.

Her other films included the musical On A Clear Day You Can See Forever '70, non-singing roles in The Owl And The Pussycat '71 with George Segal, What's Up Doc? '72 with Ryan O'Neal and Madeline Kahn (attempt to re-create '30s 'screwball comedy' genre directed by Peter Bogdanovich). In '83 she became the first woman to write, produce, direct and star in the title role of her own film: Yentl was an unlikely story of a girl masquerading as a boy in an Orthodox Jewish setting and made an uneasy musical; the film was panned but soundtrack LP went top ten. LP Emotion '84 went top 20 including the duet single 'Make No Mistake, He's Mine' with Kim Carnes, in the Hot 100 for ten weeks '85. The Broadway Album '85 was no. 1: she insisted on choosing songs by David Shire, Stephen Sondheim etc even though they were not considered commercial; indeed her taste in material in the '70-80s was better than Frank Sinatra's. She also contributed to Harold Sings Arlen (With Friend), later on Columbia Special Products. When One Voice '87 went gold (recorded at her Malibu home for 500 invited guests) she had 30 gold albums, more than any other artist; Till I Loved You '88 was another, produved by Quincy Jones. Her Christmas album '67 has charted 18 times; there was another compilation '89, then Just For The Record '91 with a 92-page booklet including rare material: demos, unreleased studio and live tracks, TV and night club recordings, a feast for fans; the four-disc set went top 40. Back To Broadway '93 was her first no. 1 album since The Broadway Album.

Fear of performing in public kept her off the stage for many years except for a couple of political rallies, but her larger-than-life persona and unquenchable exuberance kept her at the top; then she bit the bullet and did The Concert '94 at Madison Square Garden: the two-disc set went top ten and a highlights album was issued as well. 'I Finally Found You' was a duet with Bryan ('18 Till I Die') Adams, from her new movie The Mirror Has Two Faces '97. Higher Ground '97 had twelve new tracks including duet 'Tell Him' with Celine Dion.

She has probably recorded more songs by Alan and Marilyn Bergman than any other singer, including 'The Way We Were', 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers' and the songs from Yentl; in 2011 she released What Matters Most: The Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman, with songs she hadn't recorded before, such as 'The Windmills Of Your Mind'.