Britain's foremost chansonnier and song stylist, Barb Jungr, is one of the country's finest interpreters of contemporary song. Always original and inventive, Jungr has drawn comparisons with Nina Simone and Peggy Lee.
Whilst No Frontiers is the title for one of Barb Jungr’s extraordinary collection of songs performed for Souvenir Press’ 65th Anniversary at The Royal College of Music Theatre, it would be equally applicable to the superb singer Jungr herself, who defies categories. As Glam Adelaide recently quipped about her, "It’s as if Edith Piaf and Nick Cave had a lovechild who was adopted by Carmen McCrae!"
Jungr cut her teeth as a singer and performer on the alternative cabaret circuit, earning an armful of awards including a Perrier, but over the past few years she’s developed into one of our finest and most distinctive singers, with an exhilarating vocal style that fuses her sense of jazz, blues and soul, with elements of everything from theatre song to African and Iranian folk singing.
Born in Rochdale to Czech and German parents, she sang in folk clubs at school, jazz and blues bands at college and in London. She began recording for CBS in the late 1970’s, toured with Kid Creole, Alexie Sayle and Julian Clary amongst many more, and since then has not ceased to perform internationally on stage as well as appearing regularly on radio and television.
In 2016 she appeared at New York’s Lincoln Center in the Peggy Lee Song Book series. In April that same year, she performed in Michael Childer’s bi-annual star-studded show One Night Only at the McCallum Theater in Palm Springs, California, performing a Stephen Sondheim song for Musical Director John McDaniel and in May launched the American release of her latest recording, Shelter From the Storm: Songs of Hope for Troubled Times with four nights at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan. It was premiered in Jazz Club Pizza Express, Soho, London. It was eagerly awaited as it also features the virtuosic contemporary jazz pianist and US GRAMMY® Award-winning, Laurence Hobgood.
In June 2016 she appeared for the third time in sellout shows at the Adelaide and Brisbane Cabaret Festivals as well as giving concerts in Melbourne, Sydney, Byron Bay and Canberra.
In a very short time she has built a major fan base in the US, as witnessed in the many awards for her recordings and performances (Broadway World award for Hard Rain in 2014, the Time Out New York Cabaret Nightlife Award for Outstanding Vocalist and Backstage Award for Best International Artist, to name just a few). The Village Voice opined ‘One of the best interpreters of Jacques Brel and Bob Dylan anywhere on this angst-ridden planet today.’ Time Out New York came with ‘One of the best nightclub singers in the world.’, while The New York Times (2016) protests Jungr ‘is a fearless iconoclast who dives into the deepest waters of popular song to wrest exotic treasure from the ocean floor.’ The Wall Street Journal considered her Bob Dylan album Every Grain of Sand, (now regarded as a cult classic album), ‘the most significant vocal album of the 21st century thus far’.
Jungr has worked with many of the finest musicians and composers in the UK, including Mark-Anthony Turnage, who she wrote about Water with, and for her to sing at the re-opening of the Southbank with the London Sinfonietta and most recently was a featured artist in collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Corby musicians and singers in the Deep Roots Tall Trees project, of which she is Artistic Director and for which she continues to work.
Jungr’s extensive radio and TV appearances in the UK include BBC Radio 4 ‘Start The Week’, ‘A Good Read’, ‘Saturday Review’, ‘Front Row’ and ‘Saturday Live’, and on BBC4 TV she has performed as an expert on Piaf, Nina Simone and the vice. She was featured in the special Bob Dylan filmed concert at The Barbican Concert Hall for both BBC4 TV and BBC 2. In the US she is currently featured in an hour long performance for nationally shown The Kate TV series.
Recently she has added yet another bow to her musical activities in conjunction with Britain’s leading puppet theatre for children, The Little Angel. She has composed and written a puppet show, The Fabulous Flutterbys at the theatre, and most recently co-adapted with Director Peter Glanville and wrote the lyrics and music for Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, which continues to be hugely successful. After its London premiere the Little Angel Production has toured 4 times and is currently doing another London run. In October London’s renowned children’s Polka Theatre stages tours How To Hide A Lion, for which Jungr is writing the music and lyrics.
Her collection of Beatles songs, arranged and performed with the acclaimed Emmy and GRAMMY® winning Musical Director and composer John McDaniel, will be released in late 2016, alongside further dates in the US.
2017 saw the fifteenth anniversary of Every Grain of Sand which was marked with its release on vinyl for the very first time and a special CD re-issue. Later that year the album was one of 57 albums showcased in Will Friedwald's book 'The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums', considered alongside albums by Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald.