December 20, 2014

The Comeback Queen

Billboard Year in Music 2014: Barbra Streisand on Her No. 1 Album 'Partners' Proving 'That I've Stood the Test of Time'

The Comeback Queen

1 Week on Billboard 200

By Ray Rogers

Photographed by Marc Hom on Nov. 12 at Hearst Tower in New York.

Hello, Gorgeous! This summer, at 72, Barbra Streisand joined Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to promote her 34th studio album, Partners. Her second album of duets, several of which are interpretations of her iconic works, saw her team with fellow legends (Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie) and relative youngsters (John Legend, John Mayer). "I've always enjoyed doing duets, starting with Judy Garland," says Streisand. "First of all, you share the work! But voices in harmony or counterpoint can be very beautiful, emotional." Driven by a campaign that relied on traditional and social media, Partners made Streisand the first artist to score No. 1 albums in six straight decades.

Marty Erlichman, manager: Years ago, you'd go to William B. Williams, and if he liked it, he played it, you had a No. 1. Everybody that I read about now that has No. 1 records, they're out there working it.

Barbra Streisand: When I did Jimmy Fallon, it was 50 years since I'd done The Tonight Show. It was scary. I know that people want to hear me sing if they buy my records, but otherwise I have no idea if a small audience is going to respond. I never take that for granted.

Rob Stringer, chairman/CEO, Columbia Records: The strategy was simple: We pushed Barbra and Marty, and they pushed us. We brought Barbra's fan base into the digital age.

Streisand: It's kind of a blast. I was thrilled to see how many people tweeted, Instagrammed or Facebooked my album. And now I've used it to promote awareness for women's heart disease.

Stringer: Every time she did something, we enlarged it. She said to me, "This better be No. 1."

Streisand: It's very meaningful. It means I've stood the test of time. I'm proud of myself. I never really said that before. I like being up there with the big boys. I'm up there with Elvis and The Beatles with the RIAA records [for the most gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums]. That means a lot, that I'm still there. "I'm Still Here" -- just like the great Stephen Sondheim song.