“the alchemist among jazz singers... electrifying... a marvel, who should not be missed” (Telegraph, 2016)
“[Jungr’s] mastery of jazz and cabaret’s vocal arts is undisputed” (Independent)
“a fearless iconoclast who dives into the deepest waters of popular song to wrest exotic treasure from the ocean floor" (New York Times)
“one of the world's great cabaret singers… Barb Jungr is a genuine original, deploying warmth, high drama and sensitive musicality to reinvent everything she sings” (Time Out New York)
“she makes a point of exploring works of songwriters she admires—Jacques Brel, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen among them—and finding meaning and depth the creators may have no idea is there” (Huffington Post, 2016)
2016 saw Barb release and tour two new albums, both marking the start of fresh collaborations: Shelter from the Storm – Songs of Hope for Troubled Times and Come Together: Barb Jungr and John McDaniel perform The Beatles.
Shelter from the Storm features repertoire drawn from nearly 70 years of songwriting, with brand new arrangements by NYC jazz virtuoso and composer Laurence Hobgood, arranger for legendary US vocalist Kurt Elling for 18 years. Nominated by Jazzwise as one of the top 10 albums of 2016, it launched in NYC with a four-night run at Joe’s Pub, and in London with four nights at the Soho Jazz Club on Dean Street.
In Come Together, Barb collaborates with Emmy and Grammy Award-winning American pianist, orchestrator and musical director John McDaniel. The live show based on the album was shortlisted as one of the Best Duo Shows of 2015 by broadwayworld.com, and Barb and John were shortlisted as the Best Vocal Duo or Group by the MAC Awards in 2016.
Alongside the live performances of these new albums in 2016, Barb undertook a sellout Australian tour, playing Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Byron Bay, and the Adelaide and Brisbane Cabaret Festivals. She visited the US several times, appearing as a featured artist in the Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series in NYC, as part of James Gavin’s celebration of Peggy Lee. She also performed at the McCallum Theater in Palm Springs, California as part of Michael Childer’s annual One Night Only gala, this one focusing on the work of Stephen Sondheim. Meanwhile, on US television Barb was interviewed for her own episode of The Kate, a nationally broadcast six-part music and performance series on PBS, presenting ‘bold performers with something to say’. As well as the interview, Barb’s episode featured a filmed live performance of Shelter from the Storm.
Alongside her solo work, 2016 saw Barb write music and lyrics for Peter Glanville’s new adaptation of Helen Stephens’ How to Hide a Lion, a show for ages 3-6 which ran at Polka Theatre for four months. It will transfer to the Oxford Playhouse and the Little Angel Theatre in 2017. And returning in 2016 was We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a show for children adapted from the book by Michael Rosen by Barb and Peter Glanville, with music and lyrics by Barb. The show was first performed in 2013, and has toured every year since. It returned to the Little Angel in 2016, and embarked on a 4 month tour.
Barb Jungr is an internationally acclaimed singer in the worlds of jazz and cabaret, with an exhilarating vocal style that fuses her sense of jazz, blues and soul with elements of everything from musical theatre to African and Iranian folk singing. She was memorably described by Glam Adelaide in 2016 as combining “technical perfection with ballsy passion; it’s as if Edith Piaf and Nick Cave had a love-child, who was adopted by Carmen McRae”.
Across her 40 year career, Barb has carved a significant reputation for combining immaculate vocal technique, impassioned performance, piercing insight, lacerating wit and beautifully unexpected musical arrangements to reinterpret a century’s worth of European and American popular songs in a manner which The New York Times described as “revelatory” and The Guardian as “casually virtuosic”.
As both a live and a recording artist, Barb has collected and reappraised work by some of the most significant songwriters of the 20th and 21st Centuries. All About Jazz called Barb “the most innovative singer in jazz since Cassandra Wilson”, and credited her as “the principle momentum behind expanding the ‘Standards Songbook’ forward in time to include The Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and David Bowie”.
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Barb was born in Rochdale, Lancashire to Czech and German parents. She cut her teeth on the alternative cabaret circuit, first as one third of The Three Courgettes with Michael Parker and Jerry Kreeger, who signed to Island Records and toured with Kit Creole and the Coconuts. Subsequently she became one half of Jungr and Parker with Michael Parker. As well as recording and performing internationally in their own right over 13 years, Jungr and Parker collaborated with comedians Alexei Sayle and Arnold Brown, with whom they toured extensively and won the Perrier Award (now the Edinburgh Comedy Award) at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1987. Jungr and Parker also had a longstanding collaboration with Julian Clary, writing and performing music for his stage and television work in the 1980s.
Barb released her first solo album, Bouquet of Barbs, in 1985 on Magnet Records. After a 14 year hiatus she returned in 1999 with Bare (Irregular Records) and subsequently became a prolific recording artist, whose albums have “lifted her slowly but surely to the top rank of jazz singers” (Telegraph). Her recorded output has included the work of Nina Simone, Elvis Presley and the writers of the ‘New American Songbook’ (including Leonard Cohen, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Webb). She has explored genres including classic and contemporary chanson, blues and gospel. Her most recent releases are Shelter from the Storm: Songs of Hope for Troubled Times (2016, Linn Records) and Come Together: Barb Jungr and John McDaniel Perform The Beatles (2016, Kristalyn Records). Her albums have been released on Linn, Naim and Kristalyn Records.
Of all her recorded output, it is perhaps with her reinventions of the songs of Bob Dylan that Barb is most associated, and most widely acclaimed. Billy Bragg has said she is "possibly our greatest interpreter of Dylan's songs", and The Sunday Times agrees, calling her “just about the best Dylan interpreter around”. Her first Dylan album, Every Grain of Sand: Barb Jungr Sings Bob Dylan (2002, Linn Records) is released on vinyl in 2017 to mark its 15th anniversary. Since 2002 it has become a cult classic, entering the Top 10 Jazz Albums of the Year lists in The Sunday Times and The Telegraph. It was described by The Wall Street Journal in 2013 as “the most significant vocal album of the 21st Century thus far”. Barb has continually returned to Dylan’s work throughout her career, most extensively on Man in the Long Black Coat: Barb Jungr Sings Bob Dylan (2011, Linn Records) and Hard Rain - the songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen (2014, Kristalyn Records – broadwayworld.com Award for Best Cabaret CD 2014).
Alongside her recorded output, Barb is a revered live performer, referred to by Time Out New York as “one of the best nightclub singers in the world”. She performs internationally a range of shows themed around particular writers, performers or genres. Shows currently in her repertoire are Barb Jungr Sings Bob Dylan; Hard Rain – the songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen; Come Together – Barb Jungr and John McDaniel perform The Beatles; Shelter from the Storm – Songs Of Hope For Troubled Times; Barb Jungr sings Nina Simone; No Regrets – Barb Jungr sings Classic Chansons. Full details of these shows can be found here.
Barb has written extensively for theatre. Productions include How to Hide a Lion (music and lyrics for adaptation by Peter Glanville of Helen Stephens’ book, coproduction by Polka Theatre and Oxford Playhouse 2016/17); We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (music and lyrics, and co-adaption with Peter Glanville of Michael Rosen’s book, Little Angel Theatre 2013 and tours in 2014, 2015 and 2016/17); The Fabulous Flutterbys (book, music and lyrics, Little Angel Theatre); The Jungle Book (lyrics, Birmingham Stage Company); The Ballad of Norah’s Ark (co-wrote songs with Russell Churney, co-wrote book with Andy Goldberg, Billingham Players); music and lyrics for several pantomimes at the Newbury Corn Exchange, directed by Cal McCrystal.
Additional projects include a collaboration with Mark-Anthony Turnage on About Water, sung by Barb with the London Sinfonietta at the reopening of the Southbank Centre; creator of the song cycle Deep Roots Tall Trees for the Core Theatre at Corby; collaboration with composer Jonathan Cooper on his song cycle Moon Behind the Clouds; the cabaret show Girl Talk with Mari Wilson, Claire Martin and Gwyneth Herbert, which toured for 10 years; the trio Durga Rising with tabla player Kuljit Bhamra and pianist Russell Churney.
Barb has worked extensively on BBC Radio as a presenter, writer, researcher and arts contributor, and contributed to television documentaries on BBC4.
Awards include Best Cabaret from Time Out New York (four consecutive years from 2008 to 2011); New York Nightlife Award for Outstanding Cabaret Vocalist 2008; New York Backstage Award for Best International Artist 2003.