Every two weeks William will be sharing posts from his music archives here on Smorgasbord with a reminder of the incredible musicians and singers that have been featured over the last five years.
In part one week in the series we discovered how Barbra Streisand began her musical career and here early hits and films.
This week, to celebrate some of the most memorable music of Barbra Streisand the focus of today’s post is the music from the award winning movies that she starred in and also composed music for, during the mid- 1960s and early 1970s. William Price King has selected some of her greatest hits from this period along with the background to the tracks.
Hello Dolly is a 1964 musical with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce “The Merchant of Yonkers,” which Wilder revised and retitled “The Matchmaker” in 1955. Streisand’s Dolly is a rebuke to the modern anxiety about whether or not women can or should “have it all”. Her Dolly is an impressive striver with a heart of gold who knows what she wants, and her ability to convey joy, longing, and lightness with her voice is unparalleled. Louis Armstrong, whose recording of “Hello Dolly” became a number-one single in May 1964, also performs the song (together with Streisand).
In 1965 building on the success of Funny Girl, Hello Dolly and albums of the early 1960s, Barbra Streisand turned to the new vehicle for stardom, reaching into everyone’s home. Her television show ‘My Name is Barbra‘ was an immediate success and received five Emmy awards and CBS gave her a ten year contract to produce and star in more specials. Barbra was given complete artistic control of the next four productions.
In 1966 ‘Funny Girl’ went to London at the Prince of Wales Theater, followed by the screen version in 1968, winning Barbra Streisand an Academy Award. She also won a Golden Globe and was named ‘Star of the Year’ by the National Association of Theater Owners.
In 1969 Barbra achieved big screen success with the film version “Hello, Dolly!” followed a year later by “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever“. With a step away from musicals she starred in “The Owl and the Pussycat” in 1970 with George Segal and in 1972 “What’s Up Doc?” with Ryan O’Neal. The same year she founded her own production company, Barwood Films with the first being “Up the Sandbox”.
Up the Sandbox was one of the first films to explore women’s changing roles during the sexual revolution of the early 1970s. A number of critics praised Streisand’s performance. According to Pauline Kael, “Barbra Streisand [had] never seemed so radiant as in this joyful mess, taken from the Anne Richardson Roiphe novel and directed by Irvin Kershner. The picture is full of knockabout urban humor”
At the beginnning of the 1970s Barbra Streisand had moved into more contemporary material and found her niches in the pop and ballad charts with her album “Stoney End” in 1971.
“Stoney End” a Laura Nyro composition, redefined Streisand as an effective pop/rock singer. It was released in the US in 1971 and charted at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 2 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It also reached number 27 on the UK singles chart. This recording was a change in direction for Streisand, with a more upbeat contemporary pop sound. When asked by fans during the Q&A segment of Streisand’s Back To Brooklyn concert on October 11, 2012 what “Stoney End” was about, she replied that she still didn’t know.
In 1973 Barbra starred in “The Way We Were” with Robert Redford. Directed by Sydney Pollack with a screenplay by Arthur Laurents, the story follows Laurent’s college days at Cornell University and his experiences with the House Un-American Activities Committee. The HUAC was created in 1938 to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having communist ties. Many in Hollywood would find themselves as subjects of this organisation over the next twenty years or so.
“The Way We Were”won the Oscar for Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song. It ranked at number 6 on AFI’s 100 Years …100 Passions survey of the top 100 greatest love stories in American cinema. The song became a million-selling gold single, topping the Billboard 100 and selling more than two million copies. Billboard named “The Way We Were” as the number 1 pop hit of 1974. In 1998, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and finished at number 8 on AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema in 2004. It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The next hit that would bring awards for Barbra Streisand was the film “A Star is Born” in 1976 starring Kris Kristofferson.. The plot sees a young woman entering show business, meeting and falling in love with an established star who acts as her mentor. As she becomes more successful his career begins to decline with the resulting dramatic results.
“Evergreen” is the theme song from the film, composed by the diva herself, with lyrics by Paul Williams. Both Streisand and Williams earned an Oscar and a Golden Globes Award for Best Original Song. Streisand was the first woman ever to be honored with an Oscar as a composer. In addition to that, “Evergreen” won the Grammy Award for “Song of the Year.”
Join us in two weeks for part three of the Barbra Streisand story.
William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.
His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.
While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.
His debut jazz album was entitled “Home,” and was a collection of contemporary compositions he composed, with lyrics written by his wife Jeanne King. His second album was a Duo (Voice and Guitar) with Eric Sempé on the guitar. This album included original songs as well as well known standards from contemporary jazz and pop artists. The “King-Sempé” duo toured France and thrilled audiences for more than three years before going their separate ways. King has formed a new duo with French/Greek guitarist Manolis, and is now exploring new ideas, in a smooth jazz/soul/folk direction.
In addition to singing and composing, King has been collaborating with author Sally Cronin over the past few years on her blog “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life,” with the series “A Man And His Music – Jazz, Contemporary, Classical, and Legends” and now, the “William Price King Music Column.” Working with author Sally Cronin has been an exhilarating experience in many ways and has brought a new dimension to King’s creative life. King has also created a micro blog, “Improvisation,” which features and introduces mostly jazz artists from across the jazz spectrum who have made considerable contributions in the world of jazz; and also artwork from painters who have made their mark in the world of art. This micro blog can be found on Tumblr.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Tormé. King has a distinctive wide-ranging voice which displays a remarkable technical facility and emotional depth.
My thanks to William for the amazing artists he has brought to the blog and thank you for dropping in today. As always your feedback is very welcome.