The legendary singer/actress/director (Oscars! Grammys! Emmys! a Tony!) opens up about her wild-child Brooklyn girlhood, he mother who told her she'd never make it, the limits of perfectionism, her worries for today's world, and why her 2006 tour was "about believing I am enough."
You'd think Barbra Streisand—the eight-time Grammy® and two-time Oscar® winner—would have a long list of records she loves. Then again, maybe it shouldn't be any surprise that she's selective. "If I hear a record once, I usually never listen to it again," she tells me the day I visit her Malibu house. "I rarely listen to music—unless it's Billie Holiday. Or Shirley Horn...Maria Callas...and Mahler, Symphony no. 10. Those are things I never get tired of." Which is why, Barbra says, she's thinking about singing a Billie Holiday song, "out of respect," this October when she goes on her first extended tour in 12 years.
Leaving her dream house won't be easy. This is the refuge Barbra says she has longed for since the days when she shared a cramped Brooklyn apartment with her mother, brother, and grandparents. "Even after I became famous," she says, "I lived in a house I didn't like. I looked out my window and saw traffic going by. I never really saw the sky." Now, the skies have it: On the cloudless day of our conversation, we look out over an eternity of blue heaven and sea.
Beyond the main house, Barbra and her husband of eight years, actor James Brolin, are building a farmhouse—or, more precisely, Barbra is building it. ("I tried to find people to help me," she says, "but no one cares as much about the details as I do.") As architect in chief, she swirls from one unfinished room to the next, explaining to me her vision for a retreat that's like an 18th-century barn, complete with a water wheel in the front yard. At her heels is her frisky puppy, Sammie, an anniversary present from James. ("Give Oprah a kiss!" she cajoles.) She is crazy about this dog! She even had a birthday party for her.
"What do I know for sure?" Barbra says when I pose the question at the end of our time together. "I'm sure that I don't know everything I want to know. I have so much more to learn." Maybe, but having snagged an award in every medium she has worked in (music, theater, movies, TV), she is hands down one of the greatest, most enduring performers around.
Start reading Oprah's interview with Barbra Streisand
This interview appeared in the October 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.
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