Barbra Streisand: “I find it hilarious that people still don’t pronounce my name correctly.”

The celebrity discusses her music in a rare interview, including insights of her early career highs and lows, her challenging shift into pop, and how she overcame criticism of her beauty.

Barbra Streisand, just eighteen, made her way through Greenwich Village to a little club called the Bon Soir on September 9, 1960, on the evening of her first paid solo performance. She told the Guardian earlier this month, “I remember wearing an antique vest from the thrift store and antique shoes from the 1920s that I still have in my closet today” when she went to the club. “I remember thinking on the way that this might be the start of a major change in my life.”

That would be a vast understatement. What would turn out to be one of the most prosperous, long-lasting, and, in a way, unlikely careers in the annals of popular music began that night with Streisand’s performances at the Bon Soir and continued for the following two years.

Streisand emerged as a chart rival to the Beatles and Bob Dylan during the same period when their astonishingly innovative sounds altered the globe. Her recordings managed to breathe new life into songs that had been around for decades. After two years of her tenure at the Bon Soir, Columbia Records—the same label that had just signed Dylan—showed enough faith in the singer to approve a bold clause in her contract requiring her to maintain complete creative control.


Columbia execs advised that Streisand record a live album from the club that launched her in order to capitalize on the excitement she had created in the Village for her debut album. She thought the tapes would make her quite happy, given the influence of the shows they had recorded. However, she admitted, “I was very disappointed when I heard them.” “The quality didn’t appeal to me. It wasn’t intended for that space to be a recording studio.

According to Streisand, the adjustment was “extremely hard.” All things considered, songwriting had evolved from the time she was raised. According to Streisand, her first attempt to address such issues on the 1969 album What About Today? was occasionally “unfortunate.” Stoney End, her second attempt, performed far better, thanks in large part to the dramatic sweep of the title track, which was written by the Broadway-savvy songwriter Laura Nyro. One of Streisand’s biggest singles came from it. She described receiving the hit as “a wonderful surprise,” but she was still having trouble with modern pop. “Why do I have to?” she blasted back at her producer Richard Perry when he instructed her to sing along with the beat. I never carried that out! I used a backslash. I said that out loud. I did whatever the hell I was doing.

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