Earlier this month, singer, actress and director Barbra Streisand released an album of songs, Set me free 2. It’s a sequel to his 2012 album, Release me, and like its predecessor, Set me free 2 includes unreleased recordings and rare pieces that span his career spanning more than half a century.
That’s right. Streisand, who turned 79 this year, has been in the entertainment business since 1962 when she started performing in theaters and nightclubs. It’s been a long journey, and as an actress she has at least 19 films to her credit, several performances on Broadway and on television. As a singer, she has an impressive lineup of 36 studio albums, 11 compilations, nine live albums and 15 soundtracks.
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Streisand has sold nearly 145 million albums worldwide, including 52 in gold and 31 in platinum, making her one of the best-selling female artists in the world. Additionally, Streisand has won eight Grammy Awards, in addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Yet when she started her career in the early 1960s, it wasn’t to establish herself as a singer. She wanted to use her singing abilities to pave the way for an acting career. It happened, of course, but it was as a singer and songwriter that Streisand was truly impressive.
His first album, 1963’s Barbra Streisand’s album, came out when she was barely 21 years old. It was an instant success. Her vocal talent was on display: meticulously controlled and sophisticated, she was a soprano but capable of a wider range. This album, composed mainly of theater and cabaret standards, rendered with his spectacular voice, earned him the first Grammy. This was followed by Barbra Streisand’s second album (also 1963) and The third album (1964), who both understood similar standards and further established his vocal virtuosity.
It was a time when rock ‘n’ roll was quickly becoming the predominant idiom in popular music, but Streisand, instead of embracing the new genre, stuck to the standards and yet rose through the ranks of the world. popularity.
Her acting career also took off. In 1968, she won the Oscar for best actress for her first film, Funny girl, a cinematic creation of her first Broadway hit. Several other films would follow, including the 1976 remake of A star is born in which she co-starred with Kris Kristofferson and won the Oscar for Best Original Song for Evergreen, which she co-wrote with Paul Williams.
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Navigating Streisand’s vast discography can be a bit daunting. His first album is a must and a good starting point. It opens with an explosive version of cry Me A River, a song first made famous by singer Julie London in the early 1950s. The album has other standards that Streisand takes up, her resonant voice giving them a spirit of buoyancy. She does that of Cole Porter Come to the supermarket (In Old Beijing), Frank Churchill and Ann Ronel Who’s afraid of big bad wolf ? and Fats Waller and Andy Razaf’s Keep out of harm Now, among other compositions.
These are the two most recent compilation albums which offer a beautiful retrospective of her singing career. The last, Set me free 2, arose out of the restrictions that the covid-19 pandemic brought in its wake. Streisand had planned to record a brand new album, but lockdowns and other restrictions put an end to that plan. Instead, she dug in her safe, as she did in 2012 to Release me, and has compiled treasures that span much of his career.
There’s his 1971 cover of Burt Bacharach To be aware; 1973 You light up my life, written by Carole King, and the must-see duet with Willie Nelson on 2014 I wish it was you. For fun, there is also Rainbow connection, performed with Kermit the frog of the Muppets. And there is a version of If only you were mine with Barry Gibb from 2005, where Gibb contributes with vocal rhythms instead of words.
Streisand came from a poor family of single mothers in Brooklyn, New York and endured many challenges as she struggled to be successful in showbiz. As a young girl growing up in Brooklyn, her classmates included Neil Diamond, who would go on to become a singer superstar, and Bobby Fischer, who would go on to become a world chess champion.
His fight paid off. As was the fact that she was fiercely independent. When she first signed a contract with a major record company, she settled for less money in exchange for complete artistic freedom. She is the first woman to win it all: the Oscars, the Grammys, the Tonys (which recognize excellence in Broadway performances) and the Emmys (which honor prime-time performances on American television).
Set me free 2 is a perfect window into Streisand’s singing career. There is the greatness of songs like Sweet Pardon, supported by a large orchestral soundscape; the eccentricity of a song by the Muppets; and a hint of country music on the track she recorded with Nelson. But whatever the mood of the track, the album is a reminder that the most impressive thing about Streisand’s songs is the quality of his luscious voice and his ability to use it perfectly and with a swing that is rare even among the best singers. .
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