Oprah: So when I come to see you onstage, you're not going to be having fun up there?
Barbra: Well, I did have fun during the final shows of the last tour. I surprised myself. What I like about music is that it marks time for people—like "I got married to that song." One reason I can perform now is that they have pills for stage fright. I wish somebody had told me about these pills years ago.
Oprah: Will you use a teleprompter?
Barbra: Yes, or I might go blank. I'll think, "What am I doing on this stage? Holy mackerel!" But then I realize that fear has an energy behind it. The whole point is to go beyond the fear and do it anyway, because I know I'm singing for a good cause.
I can sing before a full stadium because it's like looking into a black hole. I can't perform in front of a few people in a living room. I was once with Donna Karan and Liza Minnelli, and Liza just got up and sang. I was fascinated. I'm thinking, "Where do you look in a room lit up like this?" In a black hole—a theater—I can escape into my own little world.
I never remember my good reviews, so when I hear something good about myself, I go, "Really?" But I can tell you about the bad ones, because there's part of me that thinks, They're right. And that's an age-old point with many performers. That goes so deep. On the surface, I can tell you that I'm famous and I'm good at what I do. But there's also that part of me that never quite hears the nice things. But I'm much better than I used to be. First of all, I care less about what critics say about me, I don't read reviews, I just want to live each day to the fullest.
Oprah: And you'll be living a lot of those days on tour.
Barbra: I haven't really performed much. In my entire career, I've played in a handful of cities in the United States and only three outside of America. Performers like Neil Diamond, U2, and Madonna tour every two years and sing in hundreds of cities all over the world. My friend Diana Krall told me she used to tour 300 out of 365 days a year. I've worked so little, which is why the idea of retirement is ridiculous. Actually, I didn't sing in public for 27 years, except for charity. That's the main reason I'm going back on the road now—to give to organizations that my foundation supports.
Oprah: So, you want to do big things?
Barbra: Yes. That's why my foundation just gave the first million-dollar grant from my upcoming tour to the Clinton Climate Change Initiative, which will fight against global warming. I'm interested in setting up more professorships in universities, perhaps one about truth in journalism. Why are the facts so often distorted?
Oprah: It's propaganda. People are fed whatever makes money.
Barbra: There are stories about me that are so ridiculous. My husband looked it up. He said there are 36 unauthorized biographies about me. One day I'm going to write my own book.
We Hear You!