Born in the Chicago suburbs, Patricia Barber came by music naturally, her
father, Floyd "Shim" Barber was a saxophonist who had worked with Glenn
Miller's Orchestra, and she began playing classical piano at the age of 6.
But by the time she had graduated high school, Barber, determined to avoid
the pitfalls awaiting a woman in Jazz, had decided to bury her roots
forever. She enrolled at the University of Iowa with a double major in
classical music and psychology, while continuing to indulge the voracious
reading habit she had nurtured since childhood.
Eventually, the call of Jazz began to grow louder, and by graduation,
Barber had abandoned her conviction that "becoming a Jazz musician was such
a stupid thing for a smart woman to do." In 1984, she landed the gig that
put her (and the venue at which she performed) on the national Jazz map:
five nights a week at Chicago's intimate Gold Star Sardine Bar. Performances
at the Chicago Jazz Festival (1988) and the North Sea Jazz Festival
(1989-91), along with her 1992 major label debut ('A Distortion Of Love')
spread the word. Shortly after, she moved her base of operations to the
Green Mill, where her "underground sensation" status began to evolve. In
1994 this process crested as 'Café Blue' took the music world by storm,
gaining rave reviews across the nation and garnering significant airplay on
a wide range of FM formats.
For the last several years, Barber has concentrated on her own compositions, toured behind her releases, and returned to academia, gaining her masters degree in Jazz Pedagogy from
Northwestern University, where she custom-fitted a course of study that
included a great deal of 20th-century culture.
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