Date published: 22 February 2010
It is a sign of how the Rochdale-born singer Barb Jungr’s reputation has travelled across the Atlantic that she returned to Woody Allen’s Upper East Side haunt, Café Carlyle, last week.
The Times critic Clive Davies commenting on her latest collection - The Man I Love: The New American Songbook - said: Walking a fine line between cabaret, jazz and grown-up pop, Jungr has always had an eye for an unlikely tune.
"This pensive collection hits its stride from the outset, with a reworking of Once in a Lifetime, it’s as if David Byrne had fallen into the hands of a Sondheim heroine. The Todd Rundgren anthem I Saw the Light benefits just as much from Jungr’s sharp intelligence, the pianist Simon Wallace sculpting another of his subtle small-group arrangements."
Barb Jungr was born and raised in Rochdale. In the mid 1970’s she became part of the early alternative cabaret circuit performing and recording with the cult vocal harmony group The Three Courgettes after which she formed a 12 year song writing and musical partnership with the blues guitarist, songwriter and singer Michael Parker. Together they played all over the world, recording and releasing a number of albums and touring and collaborating with comedians Julian Clary and Arnold Brown (with whom they won a Perrier Award), supporting Alexei Sayle on two national tours, and appearing on radio and television.
In the early 1990’s Jungr created the harmony shows 'Hell Bent Heaven Bound' with Parker, Christine Collister , Ian Shaw and Helen Watson. In 1995 she recorded the CD, 'Durga Rising' with Bhangra producer and percussionist Kuljit Bhamra and pianist Russell Churney. After creating a series of shows and releasing the album Bare on Irregular records in 1999 she was invited to record for Glasgow based Linn Records, releasing a collection of largely new English translations of classic French songs, 'Chanson: The Space In Between' in 2000. In 2002 Linn released 'Every Grain Of Sand', Jungr’s highly acclaimed album of new arrangements of Bob Dylan’s songs, followed by 'Waterloo Sunset' in 2003. In 2005 she released 'Love Me Tender', an album of songs previously recorded by Elvis Presley. 'Walking In The Sun', Jungr’s interpretations of blues and gospel songs was released in 2006 and launched at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.
In 2002 with support from The British Council Jungr had a three week run at New York’s Flea Theatre, for which she won the 2003 Backstage Award for Best International Artist. She has since appeared regularly in New York, performing several times at Joe’s Pub and lately, exclusively at the Metropolitan Room.
As well as her solo recordings, performances and tours Jungr has worked with the Amici multi disciplinary dance troupe, directed and produced the work of other artists and collaborated with composers including Jonathan Cooper. She was featured in Simon Armitage’s award winning, millennial poem Channel 4 film, directed by Brian Hill (for whom she also worked on the Bafta winning prison docu-musical ‘Feltham Sings’ and the Sundance screened ‘Songbirds’) and created the sell-out cabaret show ‘Girl Talk’ with her friends, top British singers Mari Wilson and Claire Martin which toured the UK for 10 years, with one release on Linn Records.
In autumn 2005 she appeared alongside Billy Bragg, Odetta and K.T. Tunstall as part of a Tribute to Bob Dylan at The Barbican, in London. The concert was filmed and shown on BBC national television. In 2006 Girl Talk appeared at the Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of EuroPride after a short UK tour and Barb appeared at The Adelaide Cabaret Festival in June with a sellout run of her Bob Dylan repertoire, 'Every Grain of Sand', followed by a sellout season in New York in the Brits Off Broadway festival with her Elvis Presley tribute, 'Love Me Tender'.
Barb Jungr is a respected lyricist, writer and songwriter for a number of productions and producers. She writes regularly for 'The Singer'.
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