Streisand's Unreleased Album:
“Live at the Bon Soir”

Unreleased Live Sessions

Recorded November 5, 6, 7, 1962

Bon Soir Nightclub

New York, New York

Streisand outside recording studio

Above: Barbra Streisand, dressed in a white chiffon blouse, and a vest and long skirt made of menswear herringbone fabric. Columbia Records photographed her posing in front of an Al Hirschfeld caricature of her Miss Marmelstein character, as well as cardboard cut-outs of herself and the two Columbia albums she'd recorded at the time: “Pins and Needles” and the “Wholesale” cast album. Barbra poses, right, with Columbia Records A&R man David Kapralik.

After Barbra Streisand signed a recording contract with Columbia Records in October 1962, Columbia publicist Peter Reilly (who worked with Streisand in her early years at the record label) sent out invitations to Columbia executives, guests, and members of the music trade. The invitation read: “Miss Marmelstein invites you to a party for her best friend BARBRA STREISAND to hear her sing a few tunes which will be recorded (on the spot) by Columbia Records”.

Al Hirschfeld's line drawing of Streisand as her I Can Get It For You Wholesale character adorned the invitation.

Below: A recreation of the original invite to the Bon Soir album recording dates.

Recreation of Bon Soir invite

Barbra, a show-stopping hit in Wholesale, was appearing nightly at the Bon Soir. Columbia felt that a live recording would be the best way to display the energy and talent of their newly signed recording star. All that was needed was a remote recording crew to capture a few shows on tape.

Barbra sang with her regular Bon Soir musicians: Tiger Haynes on guitar, Avril Pollard on bass, John Cressi on drums, and Peter Daniels on piano.

Tiger Haynes recalled, “They brought in a paid audience. Streisand had the engineers and technicians come down and record her first show for the rest of the week, through Saturday. Same musicians, same songs, every night.”

At the Bon Soir on November 5, 1962 at 11:30 p.m., Goddard Lieberson—president of Columbia Records—introduced Barbra himself. To the audience assembled he said, “For me and everyone at Columbia, she’s a singular artist. You can’t put her in any category.”

Then Barbra sang. And after a couple of songs the microphone fuse blew!

“You’re kidding?” Barbra laughed. It was soon fixed and the performance continued.

Streisand at the Bon Soir microphone

The next two nights were recorded, too.

Ultimately, the live tracks from the Bon Soir were not used as Streisand’s first album. Columbia Records sent Streisand into the recording studio to work on some 7-inch singles. Columbia released two 45 rpm singles in 1962 before releasing a full album of Streisand songs in February 1963—recorded in the studio and arranged by Peter Matz.

Hank Parker outtakes of Bon Soir show

The photograph on the cover of Barbra's first studio album, The Barbra Streisand Album is of Barbra at the Bon Soir in her herringbone vest.

Years later, Barbra released some of the live Bon Soir tracks on her 1991 retrospective Just For The Record. The rest remain unreleased by Columbia.

Here's a list of the songs which were recorded at the Bon Soir:

First Show

Second Show

* Tracks which were included on Just For The Record.

† Barbra's ad lib in the middle of the song (“Lord!”) was edited from Just For The Record.

Review of recorded Bon Soir shows


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