Q&A: Barbra Streisand, the feminist, sings on
Sep. 17, 2014
NEW YORK (AP) — Barbra Streisand's new album of duets only includes male singers, but it wasn't a conscious effort to exclude females.
"Everyone we asked was ... busy," Streisand said. The performer almost scored one major diva: Beyonce.
"She had her people try to do a track of one of the songs from my movie, 'A Star is Born,' and it just, we didn't have the time to finish it, to get it right," she said. "We had to release the album. Maybe someday we'll do a duet because she's so great."
"Partners," released Tuesday, features Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, John Legend and Babyface, who produced the album.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Streisand talked about music, directing, women's right and politics.
AP: Would you do an album full of female duets next?
Streisand: (Pauses) Possibly. I loved singing with Celine (Dion) and Donna Summer.
AP: What was the energy like in the studio for you and your guests?
Streisand: We were all nervous. Everybody was saying to me, "I'm nervous singing with you!" And I said, "Whoops, I'm nervous singing with you." ...I love that kind of nervousness. You know something's being done for posterity. I guess that's why I like making movies, too, because it lasts.
AP: How have you maintained your voice over the years?
Streisand: I don't drink. I don't like the taste of liquor. I like beer sometimes. I can do half a shot of vodka with tonic, but it's always like medicine to me, alcohol. I don't drink wine even. Maybe that has something to do with it. I smoked when I was 10 years old, you know on the streets, on the rooftops in Brooklyn because my stepfather smoked ... gave it up when I was 12.
AP: Was it weird singing along with Elvis Presley's vocals on "Love Me Tender"?
Streisand: No, it just felt right. It felt natural. I met him. I talked to him. I wanted him for a movie.
AP: What movie?
Streisand: It was "A Star is Born" many, many years ago. His career was slightly in decline, he was overweight and I thought he was perfect to play that part. ...It was fun to talk to him. He was talking about the process of how people don't understand that you need time and quiet before you perform. And he was talking about a girl in his life who doesn't understand that, and I said, "Oh you really have to explain that and tell her it's not personal; it's just that you need to be quiet before you go onstage." But it was lovely to share these stories with each other.
AP: Are you planning to do more movies?
Streisand: I like directing. I'm planning to direct a move and also be in a couple of things maybe that I've meant to do over the years.
AP: Are you happy to see more female directors on the scene?
Streisand: Well, the problem is there aren't more. I swear to God I read a survey a few months ago, like less than 6 percent of women are directing films today, and that was (the same as) in the time I did "Yentl."
AP: Why do you think that is?
Streisand: I think women are still treated as second-class citizens. We still don't get equal pay. Thank God I am in the music industry, so it's a bit different, but I'm fortunate in that way. The average woman doesn't get the same pay; she gets 77 cents on the dollar that a man gets. I'm so involved in women's heart disease and trying to raise awareness and funds; Even in medical research, women are not treated equally. The research on women's hearts is done in the last 50 years on men. ...So since women are 51 percent of the population I think we should really have that represented in Congress as well.
AP: Speaking of politics, have you spoken to Hillary Clinton whether she'll run for president?
Streisand: I would love her to run. I think we have advanced with Obama, and I think people are giving him a hard time, which is not fair because this Affordable Care Act is working and it's going to help a lot of people. But it's like Greek tragedy, you know, they always try to bring down the gods, bring down the kings, bring down the leaders.
AP: Do you feel like he's doing a good job?
Streisand: I do. And it's right to take your time going to war and so forth. He has to be thoughtful.
Follow Mesfin Fekadu at twitter.com/MusicMesfin