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 Three we enjoyed some more of Barbra Streisand’s collaborations in the 1980s
This week’s we focus on her films. Not only was she a very talented actress but she also won critical acclaim for her writing and directing.
Barbra Streisand had read Yentl, The Yeshiva Boy by Isaac Bashevis Singer in 1968 but it was to be over 15 years before she was able to co-write, co- produce, direct and star in the film. The film received five Academy Award nominations and Barbra Streisand received Golden Globe Awards as both Best Director and producer of the Best Picture (musical comedy). The soundtrack of the film also went into the Top Ten.
Here is a clip from the film – Where is it Written.
This success was followed by The Broadway Album in 1985 which took Barbra back to the top of the charts. This was the 24th studio album and was released by Columbia records in the November. Although mainly show tunes from the many musicals that she had appeared in, there were some original tracks including additional lyrics by Stephen Sondheim for Putting it Together and Send in the Clowns. The album went Gold in January 1986 and by January 1995 it was still selling well enough to have sold 7.5 million copies and gone four times Platinum. It also resulted in a Grammy Nomination for album of the year and Barbra Streisand won her 8th Grammy as Best Female Vocalist.
In 1987 Barbara wrote the music, produced and starred in the film Nuts. Directed by Martin Ritt, the film also starred Richard Dreyfuss, Karl Malden, Robert Webber and Eli Wallach. A hard hitting film about a call girl on trial for murder, whose traumatic past is slowly unravelled by her public defender, played by Richard Dreyfuss.
In 1991 Barbra Streisand returned to directing again with Prince of Tides based on the Pat Conroy novel and starring Nick Nolte. This American romantic drama received seven Academy Award nominations including for best picture but lost out to Silence of the Lambs. Barbra also received a nomination from the Directors Guild of America for her direction, making her only the third woman ever so honored.
With a return to music and the studio Barbra released “Back to Broadway” in June 1993. Whilst not as successful as her first Broadway album it did debut at #1 on the pop charts.
“I Have a Love/One Hand, One Heart” from “West Side Story” is a heart throbbing medley featuring Streisand and the incredible Johnny Mathis, from the album “Back to Broadway,” 1993. Here, you have two of the most beautiful voices in the world singing two of the most beautiful songs written by the incomparable Leonard Bernstein. A treat.
In 1993, The New York Times music critic Stephen Holden wrote that Streisand “enjoys a cultural status that only one other American entertainer, Frank Sinatra, has achieved in the last half century”.
In September 1993, Streisand announced her first public concert appearances in 27 years (if one does not count her Las Vegas nightclub performances between 1969 and 1972). Tickets for the tour were sold out in under an hour.
The tour was one of the biggest all-media merchandise parlays in history. Ticket prices ranged from US$50 to US$1,500, making Streisand the highest-paid concert performer in history”. “Barbra Streisand: The Concert” went on to be the top-grossing concert of the year and earned five Emmy Awards and the Peabody Award, while the taped broadcast on HBO was the highest-rated concert special in HBO’s 30-year history.
Her performance resulted in the Top 10, million-selling album, “The Concert.” The tour itself generated over $10 million for charities, including AIDS organizations, women and children in jeopardy, Jewish/Arab relations, and agencies working to improve relations between African-Americans and Jews. Streisand’s philanthropy and activism also extends to her Barwood Film’s productions, such as “The Long Island Incident,” which inspired a national debate on gun control.
In 1996, Streisand directed and starred in the romantic comedy drama The Mirror Has Two Faces also starring Jeff Bridges. Whilst not all critics liked the film, some did and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times had this to say.
“The film approaches the subject of marriage warily and with wit, like George Bernard Shaw . . . it’s rare to find a film that deals intelligently with issues of sex and love, instead of just assuming that everyone on the screen and in the audience shares the same popular culture assumptions. It’s rare, too, to find such verbal characters in a movie, and listening to them talk is one of the pleasures of The Mirror Has Two Faces . . . this is a moving and challenging movie.”
“I Finally Found Someone” is a duet by Streisand and the Canadian artist Bryan Adams from the film and was nominated for an Oscar. This was Streisand’s first significant hit in almost a decade and her first top 10 hit since 1981. This song was written by Barbra Streisand, Bryan Adams, Robert John Lange, and Marvin Hamlisch.
As well as the album Higher Ground released in 1997, in 1998 following her marriage to James Brolin, Barbra released an album of love songs A Love Like Ours. The critics felt it was a little over sweet however her fans enjoyed and it did produce a modest hit.
“If You Ever Leave Me,” a duet with country music star Vince Gill, from the album “A Love Like Ours” (her 23rd Top 10 album in the US), 1999, was intended to be a country song, but was given a measured, polished adult contemporary production. This was Streisand’s first commercial release since her marriage to actor James Brolin. It was rumored that much of the material on this album was inspired by this event. The song peaked at #62 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, and at #26 in the UK.
Join us in two weeks for the final part of the Barbra Streisand series.
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.