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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Their longtime bond includes the new album 'What Matters Most.' On it, Barbra Streisand sings 10 Bergman numbers she had not previously performed. The lyricists reflect on their connection with the singer.

LA Times.

Lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman's professional and personal lives have been intertwined with Barbra Streisand's for five decades — from the night they first saw her as a teenager singing in New York to their latest collaboration, the CD "What Matters Most," which features Streisand interpreting 10 of the couple's songs she had not yet performed.

And in between those years, the Emmy-, Grammy-, Oscar- and Tony Award-winning Streisand has performed dozens of their songs, including "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?"; the Oscar-winning title tune of the 1973 Streisand-Robert Redford love story "The Way We Were"; and the songs in Streisand's directorial debut, 1983's "Yentl," which includes the Oscar-nominated "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" and "The Way He Makes Me Feel."

On a recent sunny afternoon, the Bergmans, who have been married since 1958, opened their warm, antique-laden Beverly Hills home to chat about Streisand and their songs. Sitting in the upstairs office where they keep their Oscars, Grammys and Golden Globes, the two are unpretentious and welcoming.

They almost didn't go to see Streisand that fateful evening at the Bon Soir in the early 1960s. But composer Jule Styne, who would write the music to Streisand's Broadway triumph, "Funny Girl," insisted.

"We had spent the whole day auditioning girls for the juvenile lead for a show that we were doing that Jule was producing and directing," recalled Marilyn, 81. "After hearing about 50 girl singers, Jule said, 'Come on, we are going downtown. There is a girl singer you have got to hear.' We said, 'Jule, we have been listening to girls sing all day.' But he said, 'Not like this.' He was right."

"As soon as she started to sing, Marilyn started to cry," said Alan, 85.

Once backstage, Marilyn was met by Streisand. "I said, 'Do you know how wonderful you are?'" Though Streisand didn't answer her, Bergman believes Streisand did know "because I thought nobody can be that wonderful and not know exactly what they were doing."

By 1969, the Bergmans and Streisand were good friends. Her first major hit of theirs was the haunting "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?," composed by the Bergmans' frequent collaborator Michel Legrand, for Richard Brooks' 1969 drama "The Happy Ending."

"Barbra came over for dinner, and we had just finished the song that day," Alan recalled. "It was on the piano and she passed the piano and saw the title — Michel was staying with us — and she said, 'I like the title, can I hear it?' So we sang it to her and she said, 'Let me hear it again.' She said, 'Let me sing it.' We have on tape the first time she sang it and it's all there, every nuance."

"What Matters Most," which was released Aug. 23, features some well-known Bergman songs including their first Oscar winner, "The Windmills of Your Mind" — which they wrote with Legrand — from 1968's "The Thomas Crown Affair"; the Frank Sinatra hit "Nice 'n' Easy," which they wrote with composer Lew Spence; and "That Face," which Alan Bergman wrote with Spence as an engagement present to Marilyn. Fred Astaire recorded "That Face" on an album and then performed it on a TV special, 1959's "Another Evening With Fred Astaire."

But a lot of the tunes, which mainly were written for film, aren't as well known. Streisand asked the couple to send her a plethora of their songs for consideration on the CD.

"We didn't send her everything," Marilyn said. "We culled through. There were songs we dreamed one day she would sing. There were some she chose and many that didn't make the cut."

One song that did make it is the title tune, a love song they penned with Dave Grusin for Franco Zeffirelli's 1979 version of "The Champ" that Zeffirelli cut out. The same thing happened with "Alone in the World," a tune they wrote with Jerry Goldsmith for the 1990 spy thriller "The Russia House."

"Director Fred Schepisi said, 'I don't want a song at the end,'" Alan said.

A half-century after they first met Streisand, the Bergmans believe that her voice has only become richer. "There is no piece missing," Marilyn said.

There were a lot of tears shed by Marilyn while Streisand was recording "What Matters Most" earlier this year. But Streisand welcomes them. "I sit right outside the recording booth so she can see me cry, because it is the litmus test [of a song] if Marilyn is crying," the lyricist explained with a smile.


The debut of Barbra Streisand's new Columbia album, "What Matters Most: Barbra Streisand Sings the Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman" at Number Four on the Billboard ratings announced today marks the CD as her 31st album to chart in the Top 10, moving her into third place among all recording artists in that category of achievement. With today’s placement, Streisand passes the Beatles to the number three position behind only Frank Sinatra and The Rolling Stones. The new CD's ranking extends her lead over all female artists and acts in number of Top Tens. She is also the top-selling female performer in total album sales in the United States with over 71 million according the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America.) Barbra Streisand is the only recording artist to have achieved Number One albums in five consecutive decades.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Piers Morgan - UK Column

David Foster, genius music producer for singers like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson, came on my CNN show a few weeks ago with little Jackie Evancho – the 11-year-old America’s Got Talent superstar with the voice of an angel – and after the interview, he asked me who I’d most like to have as a guest.

‘Well, Barbra Streisand would be pretty high on the list,’ I said.

‘She’s a good friend of mine,’ he replied. ‘Why don’t I throw a dinner party for you both at my Malibu home so you can get to know each other?’

Tonight, I arrived at his sumptuous beachside house, and found myself among 14 other guests, including Donna Summer, legendary U.S. TV presenter and game-show host Regis Philbin and Dr Phil, the male version of Oprah Winfrey in America.

At 8pm, the great lady herself, Ms Streisand, swept into the room.

‘Mr Morgan,’ she exclaimed, ‘I loved that Christine O’Donnell interview!’

We were seated next to each other at the dinner table, and for the next two hours we barely exchanged a word with anyone else.

It’s so rare to meet a personal hero who lives up to expectation, but Barbra was if anything even more impressive than I imagined: smart, funny, warm, engaging and politically astute. 

Halfway through the meal, David Foster suggested I sing to the group. He was joking, but I seized the moment, dropping on bended knee, grasping Barbra’s hand and launching into a quite spectacularly bad rendition of The Way We Were – the movie is one of my all-time favourites – as Foster rapidly accompanied me on the piano.

As I wailed away, I caught sight of Donna Summer grimacing in a way that suggested either sudden acute appendicitis or sheer agony induced by the power of my vocal range.

‘That was very... nice, thank you,’ said Barbra, trying to be gracious, before exploding into fits of giggles.

‘Will you sing for us later?’ I asked.

‘Nooooo,’ she replied, firmly. ‘I never sing at parties.’

‘Why not?’

‘I feel uncomfortable performing to an audience where I can see the faces looking at me. I’ve always suffered from stage fright, but as long as I can’t see the faces, I’m usually OK. Singing at a dinner party like this would freak me out!’

I, tragically, have no such qualms.

Later in the evening, during an impromptu group sing-song, I performed again, belting out Let It Be on the piano until I was howled down.

Fortunately, the night was saved by Donna Summer singing Amazing Grace, Regis crooning Sinatra and Foster’s hot new act, a very talented group called the Canadian Tenors, performing an exclusive set just for us.

‘How about an interview?’ I asked Barbra as we left.

She smiled. ‘Maybe.’

Then came the immortal words: ‘Piers, can I have your phone number?’

I scrabbled for a pen and paper.

‘I’ll be in touch,’ she purred.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Streisand Pays Tribute to Songwriting 'Family'

Associated Press -

Oscar-winning songwriting greats Alan and Marilyn Bergman rarely wrote a song with Barbra Streisand in mind.

In fact, Streisand was often the one who had to approach them when she found a Bergman song that she wanted to claim as her own.

"Normally, over the years, we have never played her songs; she just heard them elsewhere," recalls Marilyn Bergman. "Once she saw a song sitting on the piano, and saw the title, (and) she's says, 'What's that?'"

Yet Streisand turned out to be one of the greatest interpreters of their iconic songs. Over the decades, she put her stamp on such memorable tunes as "The Way We Were," ''You Don't Bring Me Flowers" and "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" from her musical "Yentl."

"I just love their words, I love the sentiment, I love their exploration of love and relationships," Streisand said. "They understand the craft of songwriting, the art of songwriting."

On her new CD, "What Matters Most," Streisand pays tribute to the songwriting couple by recording an album full of their material, including some of their best known songs, such as "Nice 'n' Easy," made famous by Frank Sinatra, and "The Windmills of Your Mind," the esoteric theme from "The Thomas Crown Affair."

"It's interesting; I never understood the song until I heard Alan sing it," Streisand said of the Oscar-winning song, which Dusty Springfield made a classic. "Then I started relating to it in terms of my own jumbled mind, with so many crazy thoughts going through it."

Streisand is one of the greatest interpreters of songwriting greats Alan and Marilyn Bergman's iconic songs. She put her signature stamp on such memorable tunes as "The Way We Were," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" and "Papa Can You Hear Me" from her musical "Yentl."

With the release of the album, Streisand has recorded over 60 songs by the Bergmans.

"We love to hear her sing what we write. How lucky can you get?" Marilyn said.

But the relationship between Streisand and the Bergmans runs far deeper than that of songwriter and artist.

"They're like my parents in a way," explained Streisand, 69, during a phone interview from her home last week.

"They're certainly my role models as to how relationships ideally should be. They have an amazing marriage and they're so kind to one another, and so respectful. ... They adore each other. They've been so good to me as a friend."

Streisand noted one time when she wasn't feeling well. The Bergmans did more than check on her. "They came over in the middle of the night, and Marilyn slept on the couch in my bedroom, and Alan stayed downstairs."

"That's the kind of friends they are," she added. "We're family. You can't pick your family, but you can pick the family you'd like to have. Those are very strong relationships."

The trio likes to say they were fated to be friends; they are all from Brooklyn, from lower- middle-class families, and were born at the same hospital (though in different years). The Bergmans met Streisand when she was a burgeoning young singer in New York City. Streisand's performance brought Marilyn to tears, and they quickly became close friends.

"It is a unique relationship," Marilyn explained. "We met when she was very young; there's a kind of sister/daughter relationship. The age difference was probably more parent than now. At a certain point you become contemporaries."

Although the Bergmans sent Streisand a list of songs to consider for her new album, it was Streisand who decided what she would sing. She decided to choose material she'd never tackled before instead of reinterpreting old hits. "Why would I do that? ... The past is the past. I'm always looking to do something new, something I haven't done before."

The Bergmans were surprised at some of her choices, like "Nice 'n' Easy," which was a Sinatra special. "She approached it in an entirely different way, in a seductive way," Marilyn notes.

"She's a storyteller, and that comes from not only her inner soul, but her directing," says Alan.

Besides the new album, she's also starring in "My Mother's Curse" with Seth Rogen, a film she describes as a comedy with serious undertones; it will be released next year.

Streisand hopes to perform those new Bergman songs, as well as her many classics, with a new tour. Her last was in 2006, and that came after a 12-year absence from the road.

She also wants to direct a movie; would like to write a sequel to her home decorating book, "My Passion for Design," published last year; still has eyes on a remake of the film "Gypsy" ("I don't think the movie did the play justice. I think it could be done better," she sniffs); and still plans a duets album (names like Beyonce, Seal and Yo-Yo Ma have been thrown into the mix).

"It seems like there's not enough time in the day, there's not enough time in the year," she sighs.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Elle.com Feature

Tips for watching "Barbra Streisand: A Happening at Starbucks"

Barbra's never-before-seen MusiCares performance is now live exclusively at Starbucks across the US! Here are some tips if you're at a Starbucks now and trying to watch "Barbra Streisand: A Happening at Starbucks":

Log on to the Starbucks in-store Wi-Fi network. In most stores, it is called "attwifi," but check with any of the baristas if you are having trouble figuring out which network to join.

Once you log on to the Starbucks Wi-Fi network, you'll automatically be sent to the Starbucks Digital Network homepage at starbucks.yahoo.com.

From the Starbucks Digital Network, click on the orange ENTERTAINMENT button at the bottom of the screen.
If you're STILL having trouble finding the show, visit the Barbra Streisand: A Happening At Starbucks page on Facebook and post your questions there. We'll be checking it regularly and doing our best to help you see this fantastic and rare concert from Barbra. Enjoy!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Liz Smith reviews Barbra's New Album

I have it in my hand, the gorgeous deluxe edition of Barbra Streisand’s “What Matters Most” album. This is her self-produced tribute to her old friends, the great lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman. If the Bergmans didn’t quite “invent” Barbra, in the manner of John Kander and Fred Ebb, a la Liza Minnelli, they are responsible for so many of Streisand’s signature tunes—including the score for “Yentl”—that they have become vital to Barbra’s enduring legend. The Bergmans know her voice, her personality, her heart. (As for Liza, I think out of her fondness for Kander and Ebb, she has somewhat exaggerated their impact—after all, she was singing!)

“What Matters Most” is a two-disc set. The first disc is ten Bergman songs never recorded by Barbra, the second disc contains ten more familiar tunes—“The Way We Were,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” “Papa, Can You Hear Me?”
But it is on the first disc that Barbra truly soars. Listen, it’s worth the price just to hear Barbra a’capella on the first bars of “The Windmills of Your Mind.” Barbra has retained the exquisite upper register of her voice, but the tones have deepened—beautifully. Age has not withered her gift and life experience has given it much more resonance.
In a world of phony, over-hyped “talent,” I’m glad a true artist like Barbra is still here, working and reminding us that “perfectionist” is not a dirty word.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

USA Today Interview: Here's 'What Matters Most' to Barbra Streisand

By Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY

Barbra Streisand has long enjoyed the luxury of taking on only those projects that she's passionate about. But her latest album , she insists, is a particular "labor of love."

What Matters Most: Barbra Streisand Sings the Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman, out Tuesday, features 10 songs by the beloved husband-and-wife team, Streisand's longtime collaborators and friends. All were recorded by the singer for the first time — a notable detail, as Streisand, 69, had covered more than 50 of the duo's songs before.

A follow-up to 2009's acclaimed, chart-topping standards collection, Love Is the Answer, the new album was produced by the singer and includes such familiar titles as The Windmills of Your Mind, Nice 'n' Easy and That Face, as well as lesser-known tunes. The Bergmans, both in their 80s, "were at every session," Streisand says. "They've written for movies, so they write for stories and characters. I relate to them as an actress and a person."

Streisand has a new film due next year, My Mother's Curse, in which she plays Seth Rogen's mom. The part is her "first starring role in many years" — though she may have another on the horizon. Before writer/director Arthur Laurents died at 93 last May, he had discussed a new film adaptation of his classic musical Gypsy, with Streisand cast as infamous stage mama Rose. Those plans are still intact, she says.

"We just have to find our team and a writer. It's too bad, because I was looking forward to working with Arthur," who directed Streisand in her Broadway debut. "I had seen him a few months before that, and he seemed so strong and healthy."

Streisand also plans to revisit her theater roots in 2012, albeit as an observer. The first Broadway revival of Funny Girl, the 1964 musical that helped secure her stardom, is due next spring. Lauren Ambrose of Six Feet Under fame will step into Streisand's shoes, playing comedian/actress Fanny Brice.

Streisand hadn't been familiar with Ambrose, but she's curious: "I saw a clip on YouTube of her singing My Man," delivered by Streisand's Fanny in the 1968 film adaptation. "But it was uptempo, so I couldn't judge it. It doesn't matter because she doesn't sing it in the show."

Streisand is already thinking ahead musically. She's planning a duets album, considering Seal and Beyoncé among potential partners. "The timing will depend on whether I do (concert) dates, and if and when I do Gypsy," Streisand says.

"And I want a holiday," she adds. "I'm always torn between laziness and wanting to be creative. To work or not to work — it's always a pull."

Barbra on CBS Sunday Morning - Watch now.

For those of you who missed Barbra's interview this morning on CBS, you can watch it here:


You can also watch outtakes from the interview here:


And if you still haven't ordered the album - WHY NOT?! :-) It's released on Tuesday - and you can order here:

Friday, 19 August 2011

TV/Press Spots (USA)

Entertainment Tonight - Tonight (Thursday 18 August) - small feature on album including interview and performance footage from MusiCares Event in February this year.

CBS Sunday Morning - TV Interview - Sunday 21 August.

USA Today Feature - Tomorrow (Friday 19 August).

People Magazine - "Pick of the week".

Elle.com - Monday 22 August (PM).

Starbucks Exclusive - Visit any Starbucks (US Only) between 23-30 August with your WiFi enabled laptop or device - and watch Barbra perform songs from the new album. Watch the trailer here: www.barbrastreisand.com/us/starbucks

New York Times / LA Times - Print adverts running Sunday 21 August.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Starbucks Exclusive

In February 2011, Barbra performed an intimate concert at the MusiCares annual benefit gala including selections by Alan & Marilyn Bergman. Only a lucky few witnessed this historic event, and now you can too!

Visit a Starbucks store between August 23rd and 30th with your WiFi-enabled laptop computer, phone, or other mobile device and log on to the Starbucks Digital Network. From there, you'll be able to see Barbra perform some of her greatest hits plus two songs from What Matters Most which she's never before sung live... right from your own mobile device and only in Starbucks. Watch the trailer of the concert now!

Monday, 15 August 2011

When Barbra Streisand Sings "What Matters Most" Is A Consummate Collection

By Allison Waldman - Barbra Streisand Examiner

With her last studio album, "Love Is the Answer," Barbra Streisand not only delivered a beautiful song set and re-embraced the jazz-cabaret clubs of her youth, she also achieved the kind of legendary success that's made her the star of stars. "Love Is the Answer" debuted at the top of the charts, giving America's First Voice the distinction of having had number one albums -- not songs -- in five decades, from the 1960s to the 2000s.

Well, it's now the 2010s — and if there is any justice, Streisand's new CD, "What Matters Most: Barbra Streisand Sings the Lyrics of Alan & Marilyn Bergman" will equal or surpass the success of her last number one. Quite simply, Streisand has delivered a ten-song collection of the work of her dearest friends, the lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman, with the kind of respect, love and passion that imbues her best work.

"What Matters Most" comes as almost a surprise; an album of songs which she's never sung before. A gift that was meant as a tribute to the Bergmans, but becomes a treat for the listener. If you love good music, if you long for songs that say something about life, love, relationships and what is this thing called love, if you want Streisand in her balladic best tradition as an actress in song, then don't wait. Go now online and buy "What Matters Most" and be good to yourself.

Produced by Barbra herself, "What Matters Most" shows us that she continues to possess the voice of a wondrous Stradivarius, the skill as a consummate actress and the intelligence of a fine director -- all wrapped up in one amazing package. Song by song, she's both the character and the music, essaying the Bergmans deceptively straightforward lyrics with a depth that few singers can match.

Therefore, let's take it song by song:

"The Windmills of Your Mind" -- How do you start an album like you never have before? For Barbra Streisand, that's a tough question. But the answer is the audacious, a cappella opening to "The Windmills of Your Mind." Do you wonder about the Streisand voice, how it sounds as she approaches age 70? Listen to this song and be prepared to be wowed. Pure, strong, tone intact, subtle and vibrant, Barbra has retained the diamond quality and enveloping tone that we have loved since "Happy Days Are Here Again." This Oscar-winning song by Michel Legrand and the Bergmans has been sung and recorded by countless other artists. And yet, Barbra waited to do it now and, thus, it sounds completely new. The lyrics to "Windmills" are like a Salvador Dali dream, what do they mean? What are the images evoking? Barbra's interpretation punctuates the words that are the most important like the way she says "over" in "When you knew that it was over." And on her lips, "the color of his hair" is an allusion to Steve McQueen who starred in the film for which the song was written, "The Thomas Crown Affair." Another point to admire in "Windmills" are the specific choice of words the Bergmans use; in "the world is like an apple, whirling silently in space," it's not spinning, it's whirling. And "pictures hanging in a hallway in a half-forgotten dream," it's half-forgotten that's haunting in its wordplay. By the end of Streisand's almost minimalist approach, "The Windmills of Your Mind" has become a song of profound sadness that you will not soon forget.

"Nice and Easy" -- With the wonderful "Nice and Easy," Streisand wisely applies her take on a song that's completely Frank Sinatra's domain. In Old Blue Eye's version, the song is about falling in love; it's bright, bubbly, finger-snapping and playful. In Streisand's reading, "Nice and Easy" is about making love…from a woman's point of view. If Frank was singing of a date, Streisand is singing of a seduction. He was dancing, she's in bed. The difference only makes the song that much more fun. Two masters who've given the same lyric completely viable renditions -- and then sang them beautifully. Barbra's emphasis on certain words and phrases, take on new meaning, like "hold your horses" and "falling into place." And her warm, rich vocal is, well, just like buttah! And if you don't think she's having fun with it, listen close to hear her vamp with the horns. That's a singer at home with the music.

"So Many Stars" -- So many popular singers just don't take to singing in a different language, but for Streisand, it's just another arrow in her quiver, another way for her to elevate a song to something more. With the Sergio Mendes tune "So Many Stars," Barbra's in a Brazilian beat, swaying to the enchanting music, and going for the gusto as she takes the Bergman lyrics into Portuguese. Just for the record, that makes eight different languages for Barbra music; she's already sung in English, French, Spanish, Latin, Italian, German and Hebrew. But it's not the foreign phrases that give "So Many Stars" its élan. It's the almost "Yentl-esque" quality of the Bergmans and Barbra's collaboration. Singing "Which star is meant for me" Barbra reminds us of Yentl questioning the universe as she prayed in "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" But here, the song is not a prayer, it's a dance. Streisand glides. She's so fluid and into the beat… she must do an album of samba music.

"Something New In My Life" -- Bergman songs have heart. They mean something. As sung by Barbra on this CD, "Something New In My Life" becomes a love song to a child. It may not be what Streisand will confess, but this is a love song to her son, Jason Gould. It is hard to not imagine that words like, "Whatever else I may do in my life, you'll always be the something new in my life, from now on…" are not her dedication to him, the most constant love of her life. In a lifetime of accomplishment and great works, to this day, Streisand will point to Jason as her grandest feat. That's love, and "Something New in My Life" is her way to say it with music.

"That Face" -- Just like "Nice and Easy" will always be Sinatra's, "That Face" is just so Fred Astaire. But Barbra finds herself right at home in Fred's jaunty idiom. "That Face" soars. It swings. It's buoyant and fun and "intox-ox-oxicating" on many levels. Again, the song may be about nobody in particular; she's a singer and may simply be imagining what Alan was thinking when he used the song to ask Marilyn to marry him. And still I think the face in Streisand's song is Jim Brolin's; the face she sees on her pillow every night.

"Alone In the World" -- Love songs are a Barbra stock in trade, and in "Alone in the World," she shares with us another relationship of want and need and connection. Accompanied by trumpet soloist Chris Botti, Barbra takes us to that secret place where we can pretend we're all alone in the world with one special person.

"Solitary Moon" -- Another gorgeous love song, another undiscovered gem. With that soulful, samba beat, Barbra seduces us with this one, teasing with the words as she sings of romance like few singers can. There's a joyful, sensuous quality here that calls for rapt attention.

"I'll Never Say Goodbye" -- You can almost imagine that Barbra Streisand heard "The Promise" ("I'll Never Say Goodbye") and stashed it away as a song to do in the future. The future is now and here it is, a big fat great love song. It's intense, romantic and deeply satisfying. Barbra pushes a bit, and doesn't have super radial-tire strength to belt at the top as she did when she was singing about parades, but the emotional kick of "The Promise" packs a wallop when sung through her prism. She makes you believe with the actress she is. She is in the moment. It's the right effort. "I'll never say goodbye…" and she holds the note — on an octave leap —as if forever.

"The Same Hello, the Same Goodbye" -- In many ways, this is like "Where Do You Start?" another wonderful Bergman lyric, another examination of how hard it is to stay in love and not just fall in love. This song was going to be Sinatra's, but as much as he loved it, he never got around to singing it. For Barbra, it's another showpiece moment, a chance to give the Bergmans words resonance, as there's so much more to the words than just what's being sung. With a beautiful John Williams tune, Barbra takes us into the heart of a complicated relationship where there are no easy answers.

"What Matters Most" -- There was nothing subtle about the over-emotionality of the Jon Voight film "The Champ," which is where the song "What Matters Most" derives. But here, Barbra's take on "What Matters Most" is a paean to friendship. This one is truly for the Bergmans; this is their journey. And in the 50 year collaboration, encompassing 63 songs, "What Matters Most" is not the hits or the awards or the fortune they've shared together and singer and songwriters, what matters most is that they loved each other through it all. The Bergmans were there when Barbra was 18; they're there for Streisand now at 69. But in between has been a lifetime of love and collaboration and accomplishment. "What Matters Most" sums it all up and, as Barbra hoped, it leaves us with the lingering thought. That is, all great friendships should be like theirs.

And for me, my final lingering thought… how lucky we are that we live in the time of Barbra Streisand, an artist who continues to grow, evolve, entertain and illuminate. I can't wait to hear and see what she does next…but until then, I'll be playing "What Matters Most" again and again.

On my rating scale, "What Matters Most" is an "A" all the way.

Barbra Streisand's favorite songwriters

by: M.G. Russell - AARP.

Read the article here:


Barbra Streisand Tackles Portuguese in Newest Single

by Sofia M. Fernandez - HollywoodReporter.com

She teamed with composer Dori Caymmi for the Bossa Nova-tinged "So Many Stars."

Barbra Streisand delves into the catalog of songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman in her upcoming Columbia Records release, What Matters Most: Barbra Streisand Sings the Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Out Aug. 23, the two-disc collection includes her take on "Nice 'n' Easy," "That Face," "Alone in the World" and "Solitary Moon."

It also features a recording of "So Many Stars," which was a hit for Sergio Mendes & Brazil 66 when it came out in 1968. Streisand's never recorded the song before and adds a Portuguese twist to it for her new album.

STORY: Barbra Streisand in 'Heated' Talks for Columbia Records Deal Renewal

She told the New York Times she felt it was the right time to record the tune in Mendes' native tongue, "I love Bossa Nova music and the Bergman's wrote 'So Many Stars' with Sergio Mendes. There's never been a Brazilian translation of the song actually but I felt I should sing some of the lyric in Portuguese."

Streisand was briefed on singing in Portuguese by Brazilian composer Dori Caymmi, who coached her on the lyrics at the 11th hour, "The day before I recorded it I asked Dori Caymmi to come up with a translation for part of it. It was fun to do.

"The Way We Were," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," and "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" are also included on Streisand's latest collection.

Pre-orders for What Matters Most: Barbra Streisand Sings the Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman are being accepted now on Streisand's official website and include instant downloads of "That Face" and "Windmills of Your Mind." Pre-order customers will also be automatically entered to win a trip to the spring 2012 U.S. premiere of Streisand's new film, My Mother's Curse.

A Love Song For Barbra

By Alan and Marilyn Bergman

On August 23, Columbia Music will debut Barbra Streisand's new album "What Matters Most," in which she performs only songs with lyrics by noted award-winning (Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, Cable-Ace) lyricists, Alan and Marilyn Bergman. They write below:

To hear Barbra Streisand sing a song we've written is to know why we chose to become writers.

She always gets exactly what we mean in a lyric. And more. The actor that she is, the director that she is, the singer that she is gets it. And more. Shadings, feelings, nuances emerge that never fail to surprise and thrill us. How do you sing a question mark? A smile? How do you sing the text and sub-text of a song while never sacrificing musicality for meaning or meaning for musicality? Never choosing style over substance or substance over style?

She was eighteen-years-old when we first saw her. Appearing at a club in New York's Greenwich Village. She stepped on the small stage in an outfit of her own creation: a full-sleeved white chiffon blouse, a vest and long skirt of menswear herringbone. An original. Everything about her was original. Then she sang, "My Name Is Barbara" (a song of Leonard Bernstein's). The sound of her was unique. The beauty of her was unique. Everything was within her and before her.

We met backstage that first night. She had a tiny dressing room which she shared with Phyllis Diller (who was the headliner). One of us asked, "Do you know how wonderful you are?" She didn't answer, but she had to know. You can't be that wonderful and not know. That was 50 years ago. We've never been out of each other's lives since then.

Two years ago the Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences had an evening in tribute to us. Quincy Jones was the host. Many friends and colleagues took part in it. Michel Legrand came from Paris. Dave Grusin came from Santa Fe. John Williams from Boston, Marvin Hamlisch from New York and Barbra. We talked informally with Quincy and Barbra for a short while and Barbra quite suddenly announced: "My next CD is going to be a tribute to you guys." We were speechless!

Not too long after, she began thinking about which songs she would include (she's already recorded over 50 songs of ours). She knew she wanted to do songs that she'd never sung before. She asked us to make a list for her consideration. Then her work of selecting, conceptualizing, singing began. Perhaps unconsciously, creating a dramatic context for herself for each song, as an actress would for a character or a scene.

Once she decided on the songs, with the brilliant orchestrator Bill Ross, the arrangement, the musical environment for each song was decided upon. Then came the most focused, careful work at her recording space which she calls "Grandma's house" -- a small cottage on the grounds of her Malibu home. Rehearsing, discovering the songs.

Finally, the day of the first session arrives. The eponymous Streisand Scoring Stage at Sony Studios was filled with Hollywood's finest musicians. The familiar sounds of setting up, tuning up and chatter in anticipation of the first downbeat and Barbra's arrival. She walks into the studio and the air changes. Bill Ross steps onto the podium. The room quiets. There's excitement mixed with respect. It is always an event when Barbra Streisand sings -- even for these musicians who have heard them all.

After the take, the orchestra responds spontaneously. They know we've all just heard a singer at the peak of her artistry.

She will make suggestions to Bill before the next take. They both know how to make it better. And that's what it's about, making it better. These are artists at the top of their game with the same goal: getting it as close to perfect as possible. And so it goes. She did four songs that first day. And five the next session several weeks later.

How many times have we experienced that rare alchemy of words, music, Barbra? It's always as if it were the first time. And now this CD. How to put into words what we feel when we listen to it? Perhaps if there were a melody, we could find the words. It would certainly be a love song.

"Do you know how wonderful you are?"

BroadwayWorld.com Reviews WHAT MATTERS MOST

By Pat Cerasaro

Only once in a lifetime does a talent like hers arise and only one in a billion of us ascends to this level of legendary as far as history is concerned - yet, here with an anomalous, unique new album to go with the seventy that have come before it is the voice of a generation, Barbra Streisand. The new album, WHAT MATTERS MOST: Barbra Streisand Sings The Lyrics Of Alan & Marilyn Bergman, is as much a touching tribute as a touchstone in her unparalleled career in the recording industry. Never before - not even on GUILTY or WET - has Barbra sounded this lush, loose, relaxed and, well, sexy. There is a mood to this album that is entirely unique in her catalogue and the ebbs and flows and waves and crashes and climaxes are all here to hear and experience. It is a romantic getaway of an album- a weekend, alone, off the grid. It would seem impossible for a performer of Streisand's stature to do something new while carrying it off so effortlessly - as with almost all aspects of her multi-dimensional talents - but she does so on this album. It is elegant, carefree, yet passionate and moving. It has moments of playful courting, coursing emotions and some off-the-course frolics. While Disc 1 is superb, the true experience comes along with the Deluxe Edition with Disc 2 and all of the classic Bergman tracks she has recorded over her forty-year-career. Once is not enough for so many of these classic songs. You'll want to hear them repeatedly- and the first disc is the ideal companion. Together? An ecstatic coupling, if ever there were any.

What We Were & Are, Again & Again

Once is not enough. When you are the singular musical talent of your generation you have no one to impress anymore. It has been a particular joy since the turn of the century to see Barbra Streisand begin to reveal her laid-back, relaxed side on albums such as A LOVE LIKE OURS and last year's simply flawless double-disc LOVE IS THE ANSWER, as well as her endearing appearances on OPRAH, LARRY KING and elsewhere. Yet, after last year's beyond-reproach Diana Krall-produced collection of jazz and Broadway standards, we are lucky enough to have ten new tracks to go along with ten classic tracks from the pens of the married friends who happen to have been dear friends of Ms. Streisand's for many years, the Bergmans. Believe it or not, an album so seemingly spontaneous in its conception, while absolutely pristine in its polished, precise delivery on record (as is always to be expected, though Barbra sounds the best she has since BACK TO BROADWAY nearly twenty years ago here, which is certainly saying something significant in and of itself). Lest we forget, THE WAY WE WERE album, not to be confused with the soundtrack of the motion picture of the same name though they both share the Marvin Hamlisch/Alan & Marilyn Bergman title song, was originally intended to be a concept album of sorts with music entirely by Michel Legrand and lyrics entirely by Marilyn & Alan Bergman. While the grand collaborative project of their dreams would not be realized until YENTYL, the album yielded a handful of the most lushly romantic and eerily evocative album cuts of her entire career - the majority of which have been ported over to this new release's second disc (although, to be perfectly honest, I would have liked "Summer Me, Winter Me" to be included in lieu of YENTYL material or "The Island"). From the very first moments of Disc 1, it seems clear that the idea of a concept album tracing a relationship from its first glances over candlelight through the entire journey of a relationship to its eventual end has finally been enacted. Evidently, the first track states the theme - as happens in many great symphonies - and then the story the songs tell reveal their ecstasies as the album plays out to its conclusion.

Song order is surely essential to the listening experience, and hearing the entire two-disc set as summer comes to a close like I did and it is - particularly with the aforementioned first track surprise stand-out stunner, along with the haunting Legrand composed "The Summer Knows" playing out near the end of Disc 2 as its parallel, in its way - it feels quite like a summer romance always destined to be. Just like this. And, like all great affairs: doomed to end, as well - with a longing, heartfelt, tender kiss goodbye. But, first: hello (gorgeous).

"The Windmills Of Your Mind" from THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR is one of the most instantly-recognizable soundtrack themes from films of the 1960s, so for Streisand to reinvent it in a stirring, dramatic and satisfying way such as this is actually merely the very first of its multitude of glories. The second, no doubt, is the sensitive, sensuous arrangement. Opening in silence; then, the word round, as the first verse plays out in a stark, nearly unadorned arrangement; the evocation is at once hypnotic and high drama. As the melody spirals like the lyrics it intones, the violins and strings work alongside Streisand's voice and they then enter into a sensual, erotic dance. Yet, above all else, it is the timbre and tone of her instrument- here and throughout Disc 1 (and the classic tracks on Disc 2, natch) - and the way she paints the surreal story of the psychedelic lyrics - what matters most to Barbra when recording a song; and, without question, what fans want most from her new recordings - is what really makes "Windmills" perhaps her finest single of the new century. It undoubtedly ranks with the very best - the highest echelon - of Streisand's work, which is to say: WHAT MATTERS MOST is one of the finest listening experiences of her recording legacy for those tuned-in and turned-on to her timeless talent. Listen to the opening track for yourself as a sample and see if you don't agree - and then let the rest arrest you with its seductive, softly insinuating songs and soundscapes. All of this adulation, and that's just the first ten percent! Unquestionably, a superlative recording as strong as "Windmills" could have been released as a stand-alone single, solo, without an album attached to it and still pack a powerful punch. More than many - maybe any - Streisand recording to date, the enunciation of every sibilance and syllable gives it the added layer of allure and sensuality. It is without a doubt the perfect introduction to the alternately moody, moving, majestic, titillating and touching material that makes up WHAT MATTERS MOST.

Equal parts arresting, assured and arousing - each track continues on from "Windmills" to illustrate a story of passion, joy, appreciation and spiritual transcendence. Following the stirring drama of the opener, the next selection sets the tone for many of the tracks to come with an impassioned and expressive rendering of the powerful "Something New In My Life". Next the mood moves to sweet anticipation and longing lust in a sumptuous and supremely sexy "Solitary Moon". Then, amidst oh-so-playful intimacy, the story's coupling reaches its apotheosis in "Nice N Easy". "Alone In The World" is the appreciation for the satisfaction gained and received and returned through love, experience and mere chance in this relationship (and Barbra‘s) - the emotion is almost overflowing, but tenderly. So tenderly. By half way through Disc 1 you realize that not only does Streisand sound the best she has in decades - which is certainly the highest compliment that can be paid to the absolute best recording artist alive, then and now - but, also, it is amply evident that she has a palpable affection for the material she is singing on WHAT MATTERS MOST and that, in particular, brings the entire affair that extra special element of magic that makes it really soar. For example, take the "Sleep inside my arms / Kiss the world away" section of the aforementioned "Alone In The World" and you have a passage to rank alongside her very finest recorded work of the last fifty years. This is a pinnacle. There are many moments of heart-stopping brilliance throughout and the entire tone and mood and theme is sustained in such a measured and exacting way as to create a real mood piece - a concept album with the emphasis on conception - particularly when taking into consideration the addition of all the songs on the second disc; each singularly masterful and singled out as such.

But, back to the rest of WHAT MATTERS MOST: "So Many Stars" displays Barbra's light, breezy side and the bossa nova beat compliments her seemingly casual but surely studied interpretation of the lyric in a particularly seductively swinging way - think chic 1960s cocktail hour. Bonus points for the caliente reading of the Portuguese lyrics! This may be many listener‘s favorite song to go along with the first. You‘ll instantly know why when you hear it - it captures, if only for a fleeting moment, the feeling of those great recordings from the start of her career - just as LOVE IS THE ANSWER sporadically managed to do last year. It‘s gold. "The Same Hello, The Same Goodbye" is the type of song only the Bergmans seem to write anymore - and who better than the prime interpreter of the Great American Songbook material to sing it? Some may snipe at the overriding saccharine sweetness, but the mature sophistication that Streisand brings to material that could so easily become treacherously maudlin in almost anyone else's hands and chords is one of the many, many pleasures that her Third Age of recording has brought. I mean, the "Must you and I / Say the same goodbye / Again?" is yet another example of a moment to stand tall, arm in arm, with the best of her catalogue. She is in it to win it this time - and you can tell. And hear it. And feel it. And, it's so exhilarating in exaction and exceptional on reflection. The close of the album comes in a triptych: "That Face" starts as a "Smile"-esque daydream before majestically morphing MGM-style into a raucously appealing cool jazz tune - with Barbra amping up the build with enough belting to buoy the notion that she is a Broadway baby, through and through, to this very day - now and forever. "I'll Never Say Goodbye" and "What Matters Most" are the thoughtful, introspectively intrinsic entities that bring the entire album all together- a bit like a chocolate box and roses unexpectedly arriving to you the morning after; love note attached - and, additionally, give it a healthy supply of spiritual and philosophical gravitas in the span of two inspiring and succulent songs. The collective impact of emotions, thoughts and ideas expressed in this exceptional selection of songs is even greater and richer and more moving than the individual parts taken together - but, oh, what engrossing and enlivening individual entities!

On WHAT MATTERS MOST, Barbra Streisand adds yet another major masterpiece to stand alongside MY NAME IS BARBRA, THE BROADWAY ALBUM, THE CHRISTMAS ALBUM, THE WAY WE WERE, and last year's deluxe edition of LOVE IS THE ANSWER, as the finest full-length albums of her recording career.

All in all, what really matters most here and now is that Barbra Streisand is back in the studio, somehow better and more committed to her craft than ever before - and making music that astounds, confounds and arouses as it wraps its arms around us. A throwback to her albums of the 60s and 70s - and something new, too.

It's an enveloping and lingering hug - made especially for those among us who are more than merely friends....

Read more: http://broadwayworld.com/article/SOUND-OFF-Barbra-Streisand-WHAT-MATTERS-MOST-20110810#ixzz1V75jybaR


Express.co.uk - By Jane Clinton.

THEY met her when she was an 18-year-old new kid on the block performing in a tiny club. Wearing an outfit of her own creation (a white blouse and a long herringbone skirt) she opened her mouth, began to sing and brought one woman in the audience to tears.

“I started to cry and I did not stop throughout this little gig in Greenwich Village,” says celebrated lyricist Marilyn Bergman who was with her husband and co-lyricist, Alan Bergman.

“It was awe-inspiring. I had never heard or seen anything like it before. She was so original. She had an original beauty, an original sound. I was overwhelmed.”

Her name? Barbra Streisand. Now 50 years since that first meeting Streisand has recorded 10 of the Bergmans’ songs for a new album, What Matters Most. It will bring the number of their songs she has recorded to 63 and the album is, according to Streisand, a homage to their working relationship and to their friendship. Streisand refers to their lyrics as “like miniature three-act plays…they have a poetic grace that’s completely unique”.

The couple, who have been married for 52 years and working together for 54, in turn see the singer as their greatest inspiration. “She is our muse, she is sometimes a daughter,” says Marilyn. “She is sometimes a sister but always beloved friend. In truth she is a tough person to encapsulate because she has so many facets to her.”

Barbra Streisand has recorded 10 of the Bergmans’ songs for a new album

The Bergmans who write for the stage, film and television are responsible for some of the most memorable lyrics of recent times and have worked with some of the great composers, including Michel Legrand and John Williams.

They put words into the mouth of Frank Sinatra with Nice ’n’ Easy and wrote the classic lines in The Windmills Of Your Mind and You Don’t Bring Me Flowers. Then there was The Way We Were from the eponymous film.

They also wrote lyrics for the film Tootsie starring Dustin Hoffman and the score for the Oscar-winning Yentl in which Streisand both starred and made her directorial debut. Alongside that Oscar are a clutch of Emmys and Golden Globes.

Streisand says in the sleeve notes for What Matters Most that the Bergmans’ lyrics work so well because the couple are “truly in love”.

“Their spectacular marriage gives their lyrics an authenticity making them both deeply personal and, at the same time, completely universal,” she adds.

The Bergmans who are in their 80s, live in Beverly Hills and by a quirk of fate were both born in the same Brooklyn hospital as 69-year-old Streisand.

Alan starts every day with a spot of tennis and then he brings Marilyn breakfast in bed, a system she jokes which is the secret to a happy marriage. Then they pop off to their room in the back of their house to write. “It’s like a tree house and we do that every day. We prefer to get the melody first and then the writing process is like pitching and catching.”

Alan says: “One is the creator and the other is an editor and these roles can be reversed.”

So who do the couple rate as lyricists today? “We really liked Amy Winehouse,” says Marilyn. Alan adds: “Yes she was at the beginnings of being a very important artist and writer.”

There are lots of artists they would like to write for although they will not reveal them. “We don’t want to look like we’re touting for work,” they joke.

Working with Streisand at the studio she calls Grandma’s House (it is a property on her home in Malibu, California, on the shores of the Pacific and gets its name, says Marilyn, because it looks like a granny lives there) continues to be a special experience for the Bergmans.

“She is such a perfectionist and that can be used in a pejorative sense but with her it is such a pleasure,” says Marilyn. “She works so hard to get it right and she does get it right.

“Her voice just seems to get better and better yet she is more critical of her performance than anyone else. She has ears that hear everything.”

Alan and Marilyn are now working on a musical and a film, Broadway Chicken, about a chicken who becomes a Broadway star.

They are a couple in harmony anticipating what the other is about to say. Such an unspoken communication is something they share with Streisand too.

“It is a very curious thing,” says Alan. “Yes,” adds Marilyn, “I think: How does she know that? How does she do that? We really are like a family. It is a very special relationship and we treasure it.”

When they heard the album, What Matters Most, from beginning to end for the first time they admitted it was a “deeply moving experience”.

“It was like listening to a life’s work,” says Marilyn. “Once again there were tears just like that very first gig all those years ago.”

Barbra Streisand’s new album What Matters Most is released on August 22 on Sony Music.

Entertainment Weekly Review New Album

Streisand dialed down the diva 'tude for 2009's Love Is the Answer, a relatively restrained collaboration with jazz star Diana Krall that led to the legend's first club date in decades. Here Babs goes bigger, singing the natural-fiber stuffing out of 10 dramatic tearjerkers by her old pals Alan and Marilyn Bergman (''The Way We Were,'' ''You Don't Bring Me Flowers''). On ''So Many Stars,'' she even does a few bars in Portuguese, just because she can. B+

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