Barbra Streisand On Broadway, Hollywood — And Siri

Aug 20, 2016

It's a big summer for conventions, the Olympics — and Barbra Streisand. She's on tour in nine cities across North America, and has a new album of duets called called Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway. Her collaborators include Anne Hathaway, Daisey Ridley, Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jamie Foxx, Melissa McCarthy, Antonio Banderas, and a host of other film stars.

"The concept came to me when I was sent a version of a Marvin Hamlisch song called 'Any Moment Now,'" she explains. "It was such an interesting relationship between a dysfunctional couple, and the dialogue gave me the concept for the rest of the album: I thought, "Hugh Jackman is the one to sing this and play the part of the husband to my wife." Then I said to myself, "You know, we really need other actors who can sing!'"

In a stolen moment between tour stops, Streisand spoke with NPR's Scott Simon about making the album, leaving Broadway for Hollywood and how she convinced Apple to change the way Siri pronounces a particular word. Hear their conversation at the audio link.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's a big summer for political conventions, the Olympics and Barbra Streisand. She's on tour in nine cities across North America and has a new CD, "Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway," which includes this duet from "Chorus Line" with Anne Hathaway and Daisy Ridley.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AT THE BALLET")

ANNE HATHAWAY AND DAISY RIDLEY: (Singing) Every prince has got to have his swan. Yes, everyone is beautiful at the ballet.

DAISY RIDLEY: (Singing) I was pretty at the ballet.

SIMON: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jamie Foxx, Hugh Jackman, Melissa McCarthy, Antonio Banderas and lots of other film stars who can sing join Barbra Streisand, too. It is her 35th album. Barbra Streisand joins us from Washington D.C. Thanks so much for being with us.

BARBRA STREISAND: Oh, my pleasure.

SIMON: What made you want to do this?

STREISAND: The concept came to me when I was sent a version of a Marvin Hamlisch song called "Any Moment Now." And it was such an interesting relationship between a dysfunctional couple. And the dialogue gave me the concept for the rest of the album, which was - I thought Hugh Jackman is the one to sing this and play the part of the husband to my wife.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANY MOMENT NOW")

HUGH JACKMAN: Listen, can you tell that I'm a little frustrated.

STREISAND: Well, so am I.

JACKMAN: I'm mean, I feel like you're avoiding me.

STREISAND: Me avoiding you?

JACKMAN: You're avoiding us.

STREISAND: Oh.

JACKMAN: I mean, you're always out having meetings.

STREISAND: I'm not always out.

JACKMAN: It'd just be nice if you stayed home once in a while, just the two of us.

STREISAND: Then I said to myself, you know, we really need other actors who could sing, and that's how that came about.

JACKMAN: (Singing) Any moment now, she'll notice me - me and my simple guy ways.

SIMON: Another one of the duets we want to ask about is from the musical "Annie Get Your Gun."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANYTHING YOU CAN DO")

SIMON: And you sing this with Melissa McCarthy.

STREISAND: Hi. Melissa?

MELISSA MCCARTHY: Wow - Barbra Streisand.

STREISAND: She said, Barbara, I can't sing. I said, we'll make you sing.

STREISAND: (Singing) Anything men can do we can do better.

MCCARTHY: (Singing) Anything men can do, we can do, too.

STREISAND: (Singing) Steal a scene.

MCCARTHY: (Singing) Stop the show.

STREISAND: (Singing) Fill the seats.

BARBRA STREISAND AND MELISSA MCCARTHY: (Singing) SRO.

MCCARTHY: (Singing) Have a child.

STREISAND: (Singing) With a man.

MCCARTHY: (Singing) Yes, we can.

STREISAND: We kind of adapted the song to her and me and got it the way I think is right.

STREISAND: Why would you say a thing like that?

MCCARTHY: God - touchy.

STREISAND: No, I (unintelligible).

MCCARTHY: Fine.

STREISAND AND MCCARTHY: (Singing) I'm your fan. Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

MCCARTHY: (Laughter) Can I call you Babs now?

STREISAND: No, too soon.

SIMON: May I ask a question of my iPhone while you're with us?

STREISAND: Sure (laughter).

SIMON: Siri?

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEPING)

SIMON: Siri, who's was the only female vocalist who's had hit records for six straight decades?

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEPING)

SIRI: Barbra Streisand.

STREISAND: (Laughter) She pronounces my name wrong.

SIMON: Yeah, I noticed that.

STREISAND: Streisand with a soft S, like sand on the beach. I've been saying this for my whole career. And so what did I do? I called the head of Apple, Tim Cook, and he delightfully agreed to have Siri change the pronunciation of my name, finally, with the next update on September 30th.

(LAUGHTER)

STREISAND: So let's see if that happens because I will be thrilled (laughter).

SIMON: Yeah. What makes a great song for you?

STREISAND: A great song to me is one that I can act, that I can go into character for. "Climb Every Mountain" you've heard probably, with me and Jamie Foxx...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN")

JAMIE FOXX: (Singing) Climb every mountain. Search high and low.

STREISAND: I was trying to find a way into something that was very well known. And trying to find a new way into the lyric, which is kind of my philosophy about life and dreaming and ideals and things that you strive to do or be. Take chances in life - whatever, you know?

STREISAND: (Singing) Climb every mountain.

FOXX: (Singing) Forge every stream.

BARBRA STREISAND AND JAMIE FOXX: (Singing) Follow every rainbow till you find your dream.

SIMON: Did you make a deliberate decision a number of years ago after a couple of big Broadway hits to leave the stage for movies?

STREISAND: Yes. I never really was comfortable on the stage because I had to play certain scenes, you know, a thousand times - literally a thousand times in "Funny Girl." And I - I've always wanted to be in the movies. And one of the reasons was because once you get it right, you never have to play it again, so that was the medium for me - films.

SIMON: You know, I've read that you're writing your memoir.

STREISAND: Mm-hmm (ph).

SIMON: What have you learned in life that maybe now you wish you had known when you were 25 or so?

STREISAND: I guess to be less critical of myself (laughter), to be more grateful and satisfied. I never really did want to write a book 'cause it's kind of - not just painful, but I'm a person who likes to live in the moment and think about the future. I don't really like revisiting the past, but I thought I'd better do it now before my memory becomes more misty and water-colored, you know, like in the song "The Way We Were."

SIMON: What do you - people who come to see you - what impression do you want to leave with them? What kind of experience do you want them...

STREISAND: What do I want to leave with them? I think just to have them feel. It's like in another Sondheim song I sing called "Being Alive." Being alive means experiencing feelings, and the audience has been so warm and very responsive. So I let the love in more than I ever have in my life, so it's very rewarding. I've got to get on a bus now to the next city (laughter).

SIMON: Are you really taking a bus?

STREISAND: Yeah.

SIMON: Oh, geez.

STREISAND: I love buses. I love buses and trains. I've always been frightened of flying.

SIMON: It would be kind of hilarious if when you came to a toll booth, Barbra Streisand leaned out of the window and say...

STREISAND: Hi.

(LAUGHTER)

STREISAND: Oh, sure. Sure, sure, sure. Except this is a, you know, one of those buses with the curtains and the...

SIMON: Yes, of course. Well, I'll let you go. Barbra Streisand, who is on tour this summer - and her 35th CD is "Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway." Thank you so much for being with us.

STREISAND: Thank you so much, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME")

STREISAND: (Singing) You are the best thing that ever has happened to me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.