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Barb Jungr

Barb Jungr cut her teeth as a singer and performer on the alternative cabaret circuit, earning an armful of awards including a Perrier "Pick of the Fringe" at the Edinburgh Festival, but over the past few years she's developed into one of our finest and most distinctive performers and singers, with an exhilarating vocal style that fuses her blues and soul roots with elements of everything from theatre song to African and Iranian folk singing.

Her capacity to express emotion through well-known songs, rendering them new to the ear, is second to none. Her one woman shows at venues and festivals across the country have taken an ever-growing audience on a series of intellectual and emotional journeys in song, drawing on a vast repertoire from jazz, pop and blues standards to European writers like Brecht, Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf.

First arriving in London in the mid 1970s, Jungr worked with playwrite Pam Gems and composer Paul Sand, appearing at the Edinburgh festival in "Dusa Fish Stas and Vi". Her first single was "He's Gone", released by CBS records - single of the week in the NME - which she wrote and recorded with Dan Bowling, who now writes novels and screenplays as Richard Sheridan. Barb acted in British director Robina Rose's film "Nightshift", playing the bar girl.

She formed The Three Courgettes (Island Records) with Michael Parker and Jerry Kreeger, and busked new wave versions of gospel classics in the Kings Road and Portobello Market in the late 1970's, where the band were discovered by Island Records, subsequently touring with Kid Creole and the Coconuts and all manner of other acts (Sade, Mari Wilson, The Jets and many comedians). The Three Courgettes recorded a special Christmas track for Michael Zilkha's "Zee Christmas Album". After the Courgettes parted she recorded for Magnet Records and released an album of which amazingly a copy was found by a fan in the former Yugoslavia.

Undeterred, she formed the duo Jungr and Parker with blues guitarist and R&B aficionado Michael Parker. For thirteen years they performed internationally and were regularly seen and heard on British television and radio. Jungr and Parker toured extensively with Alexei Sayle and Arnold Brown (with whom they won a Perrier Award in Edinburgh in 1987 at The Gilded Balloon Theatre); and toured nationally and internationally with Julian Clary, appearing with him in the West End (The Aldwych) and on Channel 4 television in "Sticky Moments" and "Terry and Julian". Barb composed and performed the theme songs for three of his national TV programmes, including Mr and Mrs (with composer and co-writer James Tomalin).

She has worked with many excellent singers including Ian Shaw, Christine Collister, Carol Grimes, Billy Bragg, Helen Watson, Robb Johnson, Roger Watson, Claire Martin and Mari Wilson and has recorded for CBS, Island and various independent labels.

She was asked to work with and subsequently directed a variety of cross cultural performances for Traditional Arts Projects in Bracknell involving young Asian, Irish and English dancers, songwriters, performers and singers in Slough, Basingstoke, Banbury and Southall.

For Debbie Isitt's Snarling Beastie Theatre Company she composed music for "The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband" at The Royal Court Upstairs and "Matilda Liar" at the Tricycle Theatre. She appeared in Isitt's "10 by 10" for BBC Television.

She formed the trio Durga Rising with the Southall based tabla player Kuljit Bhamra and pianist Russell Churney, a CD is available on Keda Records.

In the early 1990's Jungr developed the themed shows which have become her speciality - "Hell Bent Heaven Bound" (with Ian Shaw, Christine Collister and Michael Parker) was Perrier Pick of the Fringe, "Money the Final Frontier" (with Helen Watson, Christine Collister and Michael Parker) was invited to the Canadian Music Festivals and toured extensively. Jungr then began to create solo pieces accompanied by piano, "Songs From The Heart", "Killing Me Softly" (with Russell Churney), "Red Roses Blue Ladies" (with Sarah Travis) which toured nationally and internationally. Simultaneously Jungr was asked to give workshops and teach the performance work she was showing. This lead to an ongoing collaboration with artist Peta Lily on the "Deep Voice Feeling Body" workshops.

In 1998 she toured the show 'Sex, Religion and Politics" directed by Julia Pascal appearing at the 1998 Edinburgh Festival (produced by Julius Green and Ian Lenagan and Pluto Productions). With composer James Tomalin she contributed a track "Jackie" to Irregular records Jacques Brel compilation CD, and the "Fear of a Red Planet" CD. In 2000 she tours "Bare', which played at the 1999 Edinburgh Festival (produced by Komedia Productions) and is released on CD by Irregular Records. She created the acclaimed show "Girl Talk" with top jazz singer Claire Martin and Mari Wilson. "Girl Talk" has toured and played a sellout week at London's cabaret venue Pizza on the Park, returning for a run this summer (2000).

Barb Jungr studied ethnomusicology at Goldsmith's College and received a Master of Music degree in 1996. Since then she has spoken at music and anthropology conferences and written extensively on the voice for both academic and commercial publications. Her work as a performer, teacher, broadcaster and writer has taken her all over the world. Touring Sudan, Cameroon, Malawi, Cote D'Ivoire, Burma, Yemen and Tanzania for the British Council, devising a project in Malawi with the Malawian National performing Kwacha Troupe, archiving, researching and filming. In 1997 Jungr was invited to be a guest choral director at the tenth National Malawian Choral Festival in Zomba. She has toured Canada, North America, and Europe.

Currently conducting ongoing research in Vocal Timbres and Emotion, she writes for The Singer and has been commissioned to write for a forthcoming Garland Press book '`Music and Sensation", and for The Cambridge Companion to Blues and Gospel (on vocal techniques). Jungr writes regularly for the Singer and contributes to the Stage and Jazzwise magazine.

In demand as a teacher,workshop leader (Central School of Speech and Drama, University of North London), arranger and conductor of Horniman Museum adult singers choir she specialises in liberating the voice through singing.

For 8 years Barb has been involved with the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. She has run monthly musical meetings and appeared at fundraising events all over London. She is committed to the work of the foundation and appeared for them at the Hay on Wye Literary festival in June 2000.

She has presented, written, and researched programmes for national radio BBC 2, - (3 series "We Stayed In With Jungr and Parker and 2 Edinburgh Specials), BBC Radio 3 (For Heavy Entertainment 2 programmes on Persian music "Sweet Lips Dark Eyes" and 2 on Ethiopian music "Shaking Shoulders and Honey Beer" ), BBC Radio 2 (writer and presenter of "The Hoppings" two hour arts special for Soundbite Productions) and BBC Radio 4 (Malawi Diary producer Paul Dodgson) and in Canada for CBC, as a regular contributor to "The Global Village" as well as regularly contributing to many arts programmes (Womans Hour, Kaleidoscope etc.)

She continues to write and record theme music with composer James Tomalin

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Barb Jungr
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