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Patricia Barber

Always a thought-provoking singer and pianist, Patricia Barber has created her own musical world. Born in Lisle, Illinois, she is the daughter of altoist Floyd Barber, who played on the Chicago jazz scene and with Glenn Miller. Patricia Barber started out as a pianist and saxophonist, becoming a singer when she wanted the lead in a high school musical. She was a piano major at the University of Iowa during 1973-77, then worked constantly in Chicago, performing regularly at the Gold Star Sardine Bar during 1984-95. Barber wrote her own music, adapted some offbeat rock and pop standards to jazz, and developed her introverted and understated style. She first recorded in 1989 (Split on her Floyd label) but started to become noticed outside of Chicago when she recorded Café Blue in 1994 for the Premonition label. In addition to her originals, that CD includes her highly personal versions of “A Taste of Honey,” “The Thrill Is Gone” and “Ode to Billy Joe.” In 1998 Blue Note purchased Premonition and she has been associated with the label ever since. Barber plays at the Green Mill in Chicago when she is home. She received the Guggenheim Fellowship for composition/songwriting in 2003, using the grant to create a song cycle based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses which she recorded on her recent CD Mythologies. As Duke Ellington might have said, Patricia Barber is “beyond category.”