The Kennedy Center

Patricia Barber


Chicago native pianist/composer/vocalist, Patricia Barber, whom the Los Angeles Times calls, "The coolest singer/songwriter around," graduated from the University of Iowa before beginning her jazz career in Sioux City, Iowa. She returned to Chicago a year later and ultimately landed a five night a week gig at the intimate Gold Star Sardine Bar. In 1989 she put out her first release entitled Split on her own Floyd Records, named after her father. Her album A Distortion of Love was released on Verve's Antilles label in 1992. Her 1994 release, Café Blue (Premonition Records), became her first widely noticed album, one that received significant airplay. Barber also began performing regularly at Chicago's Green Mill Jazz Club and earned her masters degree in jazz pedagogy from Northwestern University. Ms. Barber's 1998 release Modern Cool was inspired by the political, artistic, and economic concepts of the 20th century; Nightclub is a set of 12 standard classics of the American repertoire by songwriters whom she considers her role models, and Verse puts forth her own songwriting talents. Patricia Barber and her trio appeared in the Terrace Theater on May 11, 2002, as part of the Kennedy Center Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.

"Smart songs about the way we think and live, not just the way we love… This is the kind of art we need to be on the lookout for everywhere. The 21st century has started. We can't afford to be left behind." (The New York Times, reviewing Barber's CD Nightclub)

February 2003
Photo of Patricia Barber