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My Name Is Barbra summary

Barbra Streisand

Uncover the Intimate Story of a True Entertainment Titan

3.5 (12 ratings)
15 mins
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    My Name Is Barbra
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    The singer

    It’s hard to believe it all these years – and albums – later, but Streisand never set out to have a music career. Instead, she wanted to be an actress, and still vividly recalls standing on the seat at her first cinema outing as a child so she could see the screen better.

    Yet, as the 18-year-old walked to her vocal audition at the Bon Soir, the Greenwich Village nightclub that ultimately put her on the map, she remembers thinking, “This night could change my life.” Streisand’s premonition would prove to be accurate. She was hired for the initial two-week contract – and performed to great acclaim.

    It didn’t take long before Streisand became the talk of the town, and soon after turning 20, she signed an unprecedented deal with Columbia Records. Marty Erlichman, Streisand’s career-long manager, knew his client well and negotiated a contract in which Streisand would get a smaller fee upfront in exchange for something the young singer regarded as infinitely more valuable: full creative control. Not that Streisand would need to be concerned with finances. Today, she’s the first and only singer to have albums chart at number one over six consecutive decades.

    Despite singing not being her original dream, Streisand came to find a deep appreciation for it. Unlike acting, where she quickly became bored once the cast had moved from rehearsal to performance and her playing had to remain consistent, Streisand was free to improvise with abandon in her “own show,” as she came to view her sets at nightclubs and sessions in the studio.

    Sixty years and ten Grammy Awards later, it’s startling to consider that one of our most prolific performers has only had half a singing lesson, can’t read music, and doesn’t warm up or practice. Streisand admits she doesn’t fully understand her gift either, and her attempts to put her experience into words don’t offer us much in the way of concrete advice. She sees notes of dazzling lengths as a “matter of will” and compelling composition as simply a matter of surrendering to, in her words, the “certain inevitability of the notes.”

    As such, one can’t help but wonder: Is brute-force or bashert behind Streisand’s almost unparalleled success as a recording artist? With Streisand, it doesn’t seem to be either/or. Tenacity and talent are always inextricably in concert.

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    What is My Name Is Barbra about?

    My Name Is Barbra (2023) is an intimate and inspiring memoir from one of the entertainment industry’s most enduring icons. Candid and exhaustive, it traces Streisand’s journey from her challenging childhood in working-class Brooklyn to her status as the groundbreaking cultural legend she is today. 

    Who should read My Name Is Barbra?

    • Die-hard Streisand fans
    • Aspiring entertainers and performers
    • Those keen to get a peek into the entertainment industry

    About the Author

    Barbra Streisand is an American singer, actress, and filmmaker. Over the course of her decades-long career, Streisand has won two Academy Awards, ten Grammys (including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Grammy Legend Award), five Emmys, and one Tony – making her one of only 24 people to have attained “EGOT” status (winning the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards). 

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