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A Star Was Born Today

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This Friday, April 24, is the birthday of Barbra Streisand, the legendary, award-winning singer, actor, and filmmaker. Born in Brooklyn in 1942, she has described her childhood as “painful.” Her father, a high school English teacher, died when she was 15 months old, so she and her family moved in with her grandparents. Her mother worked as a secretary in the New York City public school system.  Barbra says that she felt shy and rejected by other children.

As a teenager, Barbra attended Erasmus Hall High School. She also took acting lessons (her mother disapproved of this), paying  for them with money she earned babysitting. It was at Erasmus where she met future collaborator Neil Diamond. She graduated from Erasmus at age 16, fourth in her class.

After moving to the theater district in Manhattan, she launched her career by wining a talent show at a night club  in 1960, though she had never taken a voice lesson and was intent on becoming an actor. That success led to singing engagements at other night clubs, roles in musicals, and appearances on television shows including The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show. Her first LP, The Barbra Streisand Album, was released in 1963 and received two Grammy awards. She appeared in the Broadway show Funny Girl for more than two years; her recording of the song “People” was her first top-ten record. Thus began her extraordinary career.

A number of songs that Barbra recorded can be found in the NLS music collection:


“Evergreen” from A Star Is Born (BRM24714 and BRM25788)

A Woman in Love” by Barry and Robin Gibb (BRM34933)

Hello, Dolly!” (BRM27594)

The Man I Love” (BRM29135)

“Memory” from Cats (BRM28356)

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” (BRM29345)

“People” from Funny Girl (BRM29646)

Tell Him” (BRM30055)

“Being Alive” from Company (BRM35445)

Come Rain or Come Shine” (BRM34637)

Cry Me a River” (BRM35928)

“Somewhere” from West Side Story (BRM36377)

Smile” (BRM36237)

The Way We Were” (BRM28809)

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” with Neil Diamond (BRM29134)


The Way We Were,” late beginner piano solo. Taught by ear by Bill Brown. (DBM03463)

People,” easy piano solo. Taught by ear by Bill Brown. (DBM03526)

If you are interested in reading more about Barbra Streisand, try these recorded titles:

Barbra: The Way She Is by Christopher Andersen (DB 62490)

Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand by William J. Mann (DB 75700)

If you need more information, you may send an email to [email protected], or you may call us at 1-800-424-8567, select option 2 for Music.

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