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Barbra Streisand on Singing, Music and the Movies

In <I>The Movie Album</I>, Streisand revisits a dozen movies -- not her own-- from the 1930s through the '80s. She dedicated the CD to the late actor Gregory Peck.
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In The Movie Album, Streisand revisits a dozen movies -- not her own-- from the 1930s through the '80s. She dedicated the CD to the late actor Gregory Peck.

Barbra Streisand dropped singing lessons at an early age and never learned to read music. But that didn't stop her from being one of the best-selling female singers in history. In an interview with NPR's Susan Stamberg, the Oscar-Tony-Emmy-Grammy award-winning singer and actress discusses her love of music and the release of her 60th album, The Movie Album, a collection of songs from the big screen.

"I never approach singing as singing..." Streisand says. "I once tried to take a singing lesson many years ago." The teacher tried to make her sing the 'e' in the word bee as an 'o.' "I have to sing like I would speak, and that was the end of my singing lessons," she says.

Though she never learned to read music, Streisand says she can hear a tune in her head. So when she works on arrangements for her recordings, she says she hums or sings the various parts of the orchestra. How does she learn a new song? "I listen to it a couple of times. If it's a good song, you can remember it," she says.

Streisand says her late mother had Alzheimer's disease, and toward the end of her life, "I don't think she knew who I was. But she would remember the melodies of her youth and so we would hum together in her kitchen. It just shows you the power of music..."

Streisand is famous for being a reluctant performer on stage, but though she's in "semi-retirement" she says she plans to continue recording. "I'm never going to stop recording as long as I have a voice. I love to make records. That's the one thing I really love to do because it's a private thing -- it's me and the music."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Nationally renowned broadcast journalist Susan Stamberg is a special correspondent for NPR.

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