Barbra Streisand released a record-breaking CD in 2014 – Partners – pairing her with arguably some of the best male artists in the music business.
The CD is on my iPad and I never tire of listening to the collaborative work between Barbra and her Guest Artists. The creativity and vocal power exuded by the singers are enormous – and yet a couple of tracks rose to the top of the pack.
One was her duet with one of my favorite singers, Michael Buble. It was full of natural enthusiasm and seamless musicality.
But, as good as this duet is, her pairing with Billy Joel almost literally took my breath away. Of course, Barbra’s voice always touches me to the core – it is a special instrument and she always uses it with ingenuity and creative freedom.
Similarly , when Billy waltzes in with his first note, I could not help but be strucke by his nuanced, fully expressive vocal approach.
And the confidence!
He is a genius at his craft and every word, every phrase, are beautifully shaped with finesse. Like Barbra, he encompasses a committed narrative approach to his vocal music and, in many ways, this cannot be taught. It just “IS”.
It is what makes artists rise to the top of the pack and no one, no how can imitate them. One can only strive to be the best one can be because this is what both Barbra Streisand and Billy Joel do every time they perform. There is no middle ground and attention to the details is what sets them apart.
MasterClass Tip: Billy Joel said that Barbra Streisand almost sounds like a kid when she sings and he meant this in a good way. Her voice does sound youthful and the reason it does so is because she taps into her head voice at every opportunity. It is always an integral part of her vocal component. Head voice is similar to a bell-like sound, one that you often hear in children’s singing voices.
Here is a a promo clip of their “New York State Of Mind” Collaboration. This should be required listening for aspiring musicians everywhere. It does not get better than this.