By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk
Great entertainers dedicate their life to perfecting a craft, but few succeed as spectacularly as Barbra Streisand.
Star of such films as The Way We Were, Funny Girl, and Hello Dolly, the voice of such iconic songs as People, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, and Woman in Love, and producer, director, writer and star of the 1983 film Yentl, Streisand is one of a handful of entertainers ever to win, not only Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards, she’s the only entertainer also to win such awards as the Golden Globe, Peabody Award, Director Guild of America, National Medal of Arts, Kennedy Center Honor and Presidential Medal of Freedom along with the “grand slam” of American show business awards.
It takes a very special entertainer to fill Streisand’s shoes. One of the few who can is Ann Hampton Callaway.
The singer, songwriter, actress and TV host joins the Grand Rapids Pops for Hits of Barbra Streisand on Friday and Saturday Jan. 20-21 at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 3 p.m. at DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW.
Associate Conductor John Varineau leads the Fox Motor Pops show with such Streisand hits as The Way We Were, Don’t Rain on my Parade, and many more.
Callaway most often is recognized as the songwriter and singer of The Nanny Named Fran, the theme song of the TV sitcom The Nanny starring Fran Drescher. But that just scratches the surface of a career that includes a 2000 Tony nomination for her performance in the hit Broadway musical, Swing!
Callaway’s tribute show, Ann Hampton Callaway Sings the Streisand Songbook, earned her a MAC Award for Show of the Year as well as two Broadwayworld.com awards in 2014, one of which was Performer of the Year.
More importantly, Callaway is a longtime songwriter and collaborator with Barbra Streisand, who first reached out to her after hearing Callaway’s song, At the Same Time. With a few changes in lyrics, Streisand recorded it for her album, Higher Ground, and the song debuted nationally at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
That was the start of a beautiful friendship and musical collaboration. The Platinum Award-winning songwriter has since written several songs Streisand has performed and recorded including A Christmas Lullaby on Streisand’s holiday CDs, Barbra Streisand: The Classic Christmas Album and Christmas Memories.
Years later, Streisand asked Callaway to write lyrics to a melody by Rolf Lovland. The song became I’ve Dreamed of You, which Streisand sang to actor James Brolin at their wedding.
Callaway, who grew up listening to Streisand’s music, and who counts Streisand’s recording of People as one of her favorites, has collaborated with more than 30 of the world’s top orchestras and big bands. She has performed for President Bill Clinton in Washington D.C. and at President Gorbachev’s Youth Peace Summit in Moscow.
Callaway and her sister, Liz Callaway, a Tony nominee for her performances in Baby and Miss Saigon, have starred on Broadway in their two-woman show, Sibling Revelry featuring duets Streisand has sung with singers including Judy Garland and Donna Summer.
Callaway, a native of Chicago, made her Grand Rapids Symphony debut in January 2010 in a Pops Series show of songs from the Great American Songbook.
Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 am-5 pm at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)
Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at GRSymphony.org.