Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Master Class with Barbra: Fresh from Recording One of Her Best Albums Ever, Barbra Streisand Talks Candidly about Loving the Movies, Appreciating Her Gay Fans, and Most of All, Making Music

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Master Class with Barbra: Fresh from Recording One of Her Best Albums Ever, Barbra Streisand Talks Candidly about Loving the Movies, Appreciating Her Gay Fans, and Most of All, Making Music

Article excerpt

Barbra Streisand has been a legend so long that a new generation of fans has no way to connect her with the unknown young singer who first astonished audiences in 1960 at a Greenwich Village gay bar called the Bon Soir. But gays have cherished Barbra from the start, and she has returned the sentiment. Streisand was recognized on the cover of The Advocate in 1999 for her activism on behalf of gay and lesbian civil lights and AIDS-related causes as well as for her role in creative projects like 1995's Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story. In 2001, Streisand's ties to the gay community were reinforced when her openly gay son, Jason Gould, appeared on The Advocate cover to talk about, directing his first film, Inside Out. In 1998, Streisand married James Brolin; by all accounts, the marriage has reenergized her emotionally and creatively, leading her into the happiest phase of her life.

With The Movie Album, Streisand the singer is back. At 61, she's in magnificent vocal shape, and she commands as no Britney or Beyonce ever will. We spoke with Streisand by phone from her home, with her dog, Sammie, playing in the background.

It makes total sense that you--as art actor and a singer--would want to record a movie album. Had you been thinking about it for a long time?

Oh, God, yeah. Actually, somebody said to me, "You mentioned doing a movie album 17 years ago--what took you so long?" I think I said, "I had to become a director first."

I understand that.

I dedicated [the album] to Gregory Peck, who was a great screen star. That's the feeling of the orchestrations. Since I was the producer, it just had to feel like these movies that I spent so much time at, in my teenage years. So much time in those dark theaters, not wanting to go out into the light, thinking the world was a bit cold and strange and lonely. I got a lot of help in feeling and imagination from the movies that I went to see.

What did the movies help you to he hopeful about?

Whether I could find love in some way, I think. These love stories. When I was a kid, I didn't even know I was going to an art house, but I would come out of high school wanting to be an actress, so I did my book reports on Stanislavsky. [Stockwell laughs] And then I would go into this movie theater next to Erasmus Hall High School--it was an art house, and I would watch films. I remember seeing Kurosawa's Seven Sumurai I remember seeing Melina Mercouri in a Greek movie.

Phaedra?

That must have been it. I loved Phaedra. And I would see these movies that left these great impressions on me visually. Mostly, they were black-and-white. And I guess, you know, I loved that about seeing good films. Those are the pictures in your brain. I don't want to look at lousy films. I do think they remain indelible in your brain, and I don't want to have those pictures there.

You don't want to foul up the hard drive.

That's right.

Some of the songs on the record are so familiar that I wonder what drew you to them. I was thinking of "Moon River."

Well, "Moon River" is the song I sang when I was 19--I guess when the movie [Breakfast at Tiffany's] came out. I was very impressed with the movie and Audrey Hepburn. So I sang it, I think, once--maybe I sang it a couple nights at the Bon Soir. But I did sing it on that P.M. East show for Mike Wallace. It's so simple and sweet, and for many, many years I thought, Gee, I should record that.

How about Charlie Chaplin's song "Smile"?

That's a melody I've always loved. And I kind of identified with him, I guess, when I wrote "Evergreen" for my movie A Star Is Born. Is he the only other one who's written a theme song from one's own movie?

As a journalist, I never like to say "the only"; somebody always proves me a liar. Do you have a favorite cut on the album, or is that like being asked to choose among your children? …

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