Barbra Streisand was born Barbara Joan Streisand on April 24, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother was a singer, but she earned her income as a school secretary. Meanwhile, her father was a high school teacher. He died from complications of an epileptic seizure when Streisand was only 15 months old. After Mr. Streisand died, the family barely survived on the brink of poverty. They moved in with Barbra's grandparents to help make ends meet.
As a child, Streisand attended Bais Yakov School, where she sang in the school choir. Following elementary school, Streisand was a student at Erasmus Hall High School where she met future collaborator, Neil Diamond. Even before Barbra graduated from high school, she was traveling to New York City to study acting. At the age of 15, she met Anita and Alan Miller at the Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village. Streisand negotiated a deal with the couple; she would babysit for their children in exchange for a scholarship to Alan's acting school. It was one of two schools she simultaneously attended. She graduated from Erasmus High in 1959 at the age of 16. She was fourth in her class.
After graduating from high school, Streisand didn't attend college. She moved to NYC and met actor Elliot Gould whom she got married to in 1963. While working office jobs and attending acting lessons, Streisand was encouraged to enter a talent night at a local club. She had never taken a singing lesson before. The evening was a resounding success, and she soon embarked on a career as a cabaret singer, dropping the middle "a" from her name so that it would stand out. Her vibrant soprano soon won Streisand a loyal audience at local clubs, such as the Bon Soir and the Blue Angel.
Streisand made her major debut in the Broadway show, "I Can Get It for You Wholesale", in 1962. She won the New York Drama Critics Award and received a Tony nomination for her performance. She signed with Columbia Records that same year and released her first album, "The Barbra Streisand Album", in 1963. It became a Top 10 gold record and received two Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. At the time, she was the youngest artist to receive the honor.
In the 1970s, Streisand successfully married her musical and film acting interests, first in "The Way We Were", a hit film with a theme song that became her first number one single, and then with "A Star Is Born", which featured her second number one single, "Evergreen," a song she co-wrote. From that point on, every album she released sold at least a million copies. In the late 1970s, she found recording success in collaboration. Her duet with Neil Diamond called "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" topped the charts, as did "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)," a dance record sung with Donna Summer. She had her biggest-selling album in 1980 with "Guilty", which was written and produced by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees and contained the No. 1 hit "Woman in Love." In 1983, Streisand's first directorial effort, "Yentl", became a successful film with a top 10 soundtrack album. In 1985, "The Broadway Album" returned her to the top of the charts. The year 1991 saw the release of "Just for the Record...", a box set retrospective, and her second film as a director, "The Prince of Tides". Streisand returned to the concert stage in 1994, resulting in the top ten, million-selling album "The Concert". In 1996, she directed her third film, "The Mirror Has Two Faces", and in 1999 she released "A Love Like Ours".
"Timeless: Live in Concert", which was recorded at her Las Vegas show on New Year's Eve 1999, was released on both CD and DVD in 2000. A year later, the new holiday album "Christmas Memories" arrived, followed in 2003 by a sequel to "The Broadway Album" entitled "The Movie Album". A deluxe CD/DVD reissue of the original "Guilty" appeared in 2005 and was followed a month later by "Guilty Pleasures", a new album that reunited Streisand with Gibb. She returned to the concert stage in 2006, a move that was documented in the 2007 Sony release "Live in Concert". For her final release of the decade, Streisand turned her attention to jazz standards, and "Love Is the Answer" found her singing such songs as "Here's to Life" and "In the Wee Small Hours." Released in 2011, "What Matters Most", featured ten Alan and Marilyn Bergman tracks that the singer had never tackled, including "The Windmills of Your Mind" and "So Many Stars".
In 2012, "Release Me" which is a collection of previously unreleased material came to light. In 2014, she returned with a duets album "Partners" that was produced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. Featuring Streisand's collaborations with artists like Michael Buble, Andrea Bocelli, Lionel Richie and John Mayer, the set debuted at No. 1 on Billboard 200 and earns the star her 10th No. 1 album. She now ties with Elvis Presley for the most No. 1 album. She also continues to hold the record of the most No.1 album among female acts.