PBS's Barbra Streisand: One Night Only At the Village Vanguard Showcases the Singer's Unrivaled Artistry

Streisand is at her best in this rare intimate performance.

By , Columnist

Firooz Zahedi

When a star reaches a certain point in their career, they may look around at all they’ve amassed, bask in the glow of the bling, and reflect on a time back before the awards, multi-million dollar homes, personal assistants, and legions of fans. Back when there was ambition, the art, and little else.

If art was a poker hand it would easily beat out its little buddy fame. Art is more essential than any of the (admittedly wonderful) trappings fame can bring. If the aforementioned star continues to embrace the art even after fame has made itself a permanent house guest, they can hold their head high knowing their integrity is intact. Only then does this star truly deserve to be called an "artist."

With all her success, Barbra Streisand has never forgotten the art behind her fame. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the forthcoming PBS program Barbra Streisand: One Night Only At the Village Vanguard.

In 2009, an audience comprised of friends and a few lucky fans joined Streisand in New York City's tiny West Village nightclub to celebrate where she began and how far she’d come. Her album Love Is the Answer, a collection of jazz standards, was released around the same time and the majority of songs Streisand sings on this special appear on that recording.

She seems at home on the Vanguard stage she shares with her band. The quartet provides all the accompaniment Streisand needs to make these tunes her own. Her between-song patter is lively and humorous. Occasionally she’ll wave at a friend. Husband James Brolin is in the front, watching his wife in her element. His eyes never leave her.

She tells stories of the lean years spent discovering classics by songwriters like Rodgers and Hart, Jerome Kern, and Jacques Brel, and honing her performances of them in her nightclub act, where they became part of her legend. When she sings, her voice never falters. After over 40 years in the business it is still a perfect instrument.

On One Night Only At the Village Vanguard, Streisand displays a rare combination of unmatched talent, stunning song choices, and, of course, her artistry. For her fans, this is the ultimate Streisand concert experience. It’s doubtful there will ever be a showcase by the much beloved singer as intimate and flawless as this.

Barbra Streisand: One Night Only At the Village Vanguard airs on PBS stations in August. Check your local listings.

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Mindy Peterman is a freelance writer whose focus is on television, movies and pop culture. She has written over one hundred articles for the award winning Blogcritics.org website and has conducted interviews with producer Peter Asher, psychic-medium John Edward, Greg Grunberg and Bob Guiney from Band…

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