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Sunday, April 20, 2014

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Nikki shines in all-star Streisand tribute DVD

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Nikki Yanofsky

Barbra Streisand fans who remember her October concerts in Montreal and across Canada will enjoy watching 13 artists singing her most beloved songs in A Music Cares Tribute to Barbra Streisand recently released by Shout Factory in both Blu-ray and DVD formats.

The 70-year-old Streisand, considered by many music critics the greatest singer of all time, was saluted in February 2011 by Music Cares in Los Angeles for her contributions to music. Highlights from the evening are in the one-hour recording.

The DVD showcases an illustrious roster of performers, including Faith Hill and Diana Krall, along with Tony Bennett, Barry Manilow and Stevie Wonder covering Streisand hit songs, such as Send in The Clowns (Hill), Down With Love (Krall), Smile (Bennett), Memory (Manilow) and People (Wonder).


Standing out was the youngest of the performers, then-17-year-old Nikki Yanofsky of Montreal, with her interpetation of a medley of Lazy Afternoon/On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, accompanied by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock.

Yanofsky began the medley as a ballad (as Streisand performed the songs) with long, drawn-out notes, and midway, she made the tempo more jazzy and upbeat, snapping her fingers. She ended her four-minute performance by belting out the final note to a standing ovation from the audience, including Streisand.

“To perform for Barbra Streisand, well, that’s a dream come true,” Yanofsky said in a phone interview. “My mother and I saw all her films from Funny Girl to Yentl, and to share the stage in her honour with Herbie Hancock, Barry Manilow and Stevie Wonder was a special moment for me. There is no singer alive than can be as perfect as Barbra Streisand.”

Yanofsky more than held her own with the other singers and insisted she was never nervous about her performance.

“I rehearsed often and was ready, so there was nothing to be nervous about. I was very pleased with the result and will never forget that night.”

Yanofsky, who hopes to have a long, illustrious career in music as Streisand has, may look back at her performance as a memorable milestone, much as Streisand did when she first performed on Judy Garland’s television show in 1963.

After seeing her in concert, Tony Bennett paid Yanofsky a compliment, calling her “the best singer to come along since Judy Garland.”

Yanofsky is well-known in Canada and is hoping to achieve similar recognition in the United States. In the past two months, she toured in Los Angeles, sang in an all-star tribute to songwriter Carole King, and will be performing in Las Vegas in February.

“Nikki is already more established and mature than most singers her age. She will inevitably be compared to the greatest of singers before long,” said jazz music promoter Larry Rosen, who booked Yanofsky in Las Vegas.

Other notable performances on the DVD include Lea Michele’s interpretation of My Man and the duet of Kristen Chenowith and Matthew Morrison singing One Last Bell To Answer/A House Is Not A Home.

Streisand herself performs two songs: Windmills of Your Mind and I’ll Never Say Goodbye.

The only quibble about the DVD is that it was heavily edited, and some popular Streisand songs that she performed at the event, including Evergreen, Happy Days Are Here Again and The Way We Were were omitted.

However, hearing the memorable performance by Yanofsky and the unique interpretations of Streisand songs by Manilow and Wonder, in particular, make the DVD a treasure.

A Music Cares Tribute to Barbra Streisand is available online.

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