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Barbra Streisand, the feminist, sings on

NEW YORK—Barbra Streisand’s new album of duets only includes male singers, but it wasn’t a conscious effort to exclude females.

“Everyone we asked was . . . busy,” Streisand shared. The performer almost scored one major diva: Beyoncé.

“She had her people try to do a track of one of the songs from my movie, ‘A Star is Born,’ but we didn’t have the time to finish it, to get it right,” she said. “We had to release the album. Maybe someday we’ll do a duet, because she’s so great!”

“Partners” features Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, John Legend and Babyface, who produced the album. In an interview with The Associated Press, Streisand talked about music, directing, women’s right and politics.

Would you do an album full of female duets next?

Possibly. I loved singing with Celine (Dion) and Donna Summer.

What was the energy like in the studio for you and your guests?

We were all nervous. Everybody was saying to me, “I’m nervous singing with you!” And I said, “Whoops, I’m nervous singing with you.” I love that kind of nervousness. You know something’s being done for posterity. I guess that’s why I like making movies, too, because it lasts.

Voice

How have you maintained your voice over the years?

I don’t drink—I don’t like the taste of liquor. Sometimes, I like beer. I can do half a shot of vodka with tonic—but, it’s always like medicine to me, alcohol. I don’t even drink wine. Maybe that has something to do with it. I smoked when I was 10 years old, you know, on the streets, on the rooftops in Brooklyn, because my stepfather smoked. I gave it up when I was 12.

Was it weird singing along with Elvis Presley’s vocals on “Love Me Tender”?

No, it felt right. It felt natural. I met him. I talked to him. I wanted him for a movie.

What movie?

It was “A Star Is Born” many years ago. His career was slightly in decline, he was overweight, and I thought he was perfect to play that part. It was fun to talk to him. He was talking about the process of how people didn’t understand that you need time and quiet before you perform. And he was talking about a girl in his life who didn’t understand that, and I said, ‘You really have to explain that and tell her it’s not personal; it’s just that you need to be quiet before you go onstage.” But, it was lovely to share those stories with each other.

Are you planning to do more movies?

I like directing. I’m planning to direct a move and also be in a couple of things maybe that I’ve meant to do over the years.

Are you happy to see more female directors on the scene?

Well, the problem is there aren’t more. I swear to God I read a survey a few months ago, like less than 6 percent of women are directing films today, and that was (the same as) in the time I did “Yentl.”  AP

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