Barb Jungr
Barb Jungr

Barb Jungr

About Barb Jungr

Barb Jungr is an English singer/songwriter and cabaret vocalist, known for inventive reinterpretations of songs from artists such as Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, and Leonard Cohen. She is internationally recognized and renowned for records such as 2002's Every Grain of Sand, as well as her frequent appearances on Broadway in New York. She arrived in London in the mid-'70s from the northwest of England and quickly became involved in its music, theater, and film worlds. Soon thereafter, CBS Records released her first single, "He's Gone," and NME selected it as one of its "Singles of the Week." With Jerry Kreeger and blues guitarist Michael Parker, she formed the Three Courgettes, which was involved at the very beginning of the city's alternative cabaret scene. The vocal trio was discovered by Island Records busking new wave versions of gospel songs in the Kings Road and Portobello Market. They released a pair of well-received singles on the label, ultimately leading to tours with such acts as Sade and Kid Creole & the Coconuts.
After the Courgettes came to an end, Jungr released a solo album on Magnet Records that would eventually become a collector's item before reconvening with Parker in the early '80s as the duo Jungr & Parker. They would spend the next 13 years touring extensively and internationally, as well as frequently performing their quirky mix of folk, blues, and jazz on British television and radio, ultimately winning a prestigious Perrier Award for their trouble. They also released six records, including one on Billy Bragg's Utility label. By the outset of the '90s, however, it was the ambitious, thematically assembled live shows that had become Jungr's primary artistic outlet. She spent the first half of the decade developing and directing the acclaimed showcases, both for groups and as solo pieces. The shows were usually tied together conceptually and, drawing on her background, presented theatrically at such esteemed venues as the Purcell Room and Pizza on the Park. Chief among these were "Hell Bent Heaven Bound" (with Ian Shaw, Christine Collister, and Parker), another Perrier pick, and "Money the Final Frontier" (with Mari Wilson and jazz singer Claire Martin), which were eventually combined on the cassette Hell Bent Heaven Bound II by Jungr, Collister, Parker, and Helen Watson. In the midst of her busy performing and touring schedule, Jungr also found time to pursue a plethora of extracurricular projects. With co-writer James Tomalin, she began composing the music for a variety of television programs and theater companies. She also became a director of workshops for vocalists, and arranged for and conducted various choral groups and choirs. In addition, Jungr began to research, teach, write, and speak about the voice and European cabaret. In 1996, she earned a Master's of music degree in ethnomusicology from Goldsmith's College, which led to the formation of the trio Durga Rising (originally called JBC) with tabla player Kuljit Bhamra and longtime piano accompanist Russell Churney. They recorded and released the one-off project Durga Rising that same year.
By the end of the decade, Jungr had begun to contribute songs to various cabaret compilations, often for Irregular Records, which also released the singer's Bare, a collection of intriguing covers (Jacques Brel, Ray Davies, Kris Kristofferson) and original compositions. It was not, however, until her next record, Chanson: The Space in Between, that the full range of her abilities was brought to record. Released on Linn Records, Chanson was full of beautifully expressive performances of songs by Brel, Jacques Prévert, Léo Ferré, and Cole Porter, often in fresh, specially commissioned translations and with unique arrangements. Britain's Sunday Times named it to its year-end jazz Top Ten list. Jungr followed up the album with the luminous Every Grain of Sand, a whole set from the pen of Bob Dylan, whom she treated as a stylist on a par with the greats of American song. The album was launched live in England with a sold-out run at the Soho Theatre, and led to a traveling showcase that Jungr took to New York City in the autumn of 2002. In the meantime, she also continued work on a musical, The Ballad of Norah's Ark, set for release the following year, and recorded classical composer Jonathan Cooper's "Moon Cycle" (written especially for her voice) in anticipation of its premier in 2003. That year also saw Jungr receive the Backstage Bistro Award for Best International Artist. She spent 2004 recording Love Me Tender -- a record featuring covers of Elvis Presley classics which saw release in early 2005. She returned the following year with another original release, Walking in the Sun which featured London-based musicians Eric Gibbs on guitar and Roy Dodds on drums. 2007 saw her work with classical composer Mark-Anthony Turnage for the show "About Water," which celebrated the re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall. The performance saw Jungr perform alongside the London Sinfonietta chamber orchestra. She released another tribute album in 2008 -- Just Like a Woman: Hymn to Nina -- which featured covers of Nina Simone's songs. That same year she received the Nightlife Award in New York for Outstanding Cabaret Vocalist. In early 2010, Jungr released her tenth effort, The Men I Love: The New American Songbook. In 2011 she put out another release that stood as an ode to Bob Dylan titled Man in the Long Black Coat. The following year she released Stockport to Memphis via Naim Jazz, which featured both original material alongside other interpretations of songs from classic artists. 2013 was a quiet period for Jungr, but she returned in 2014 with Hard Rain: The Songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and promoted the record with a tour in both the U.S. and the U.K. The following years saw her collaborate with American composer and musical director John McDaniel on a transatlantic tour that focused on deconstructions of hits from the Beatles. She also worked with contemporary jazz composer Laurence Hobgood on a new album for Linn Records, titled Shelter from the Storm, which saw release in early 2016. That same year she also appeared as a guest artist in the Lincoln Center's American Songbook series in celebration of Peggy Lee, which took place in New York. Jungr re-released Every Grain of Sand in 2017 (which saw the album appear on vinyl pressing for the first time) and promoted the record with a nationwide tour of the U.K. and a string of dates in Berlin. In 2018 she released Float Like a Butterfly: The Songs of Sting and toured with McDaniel once again to promote the effort. ~ Stanton Swihart & Rob Wacey

    Rochdale, Lancashire, England
  • BORN
    09 May 1954