Home Hampton Times Not your average tenor

Not your average tenor

Artist Terry Barber is bringing his dynamic vocals to Bucks County with ‘The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Terry Barber can do it all. From operettas to musical theater to recording with Madonna, this Grammy-nominated performer has tested his talents in practically every facet of the entertainment industry. On June 30, Barber is bringing his dynamic vocal range to Bucks County with his production of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber at the Sellersville Theater.

A distinct melody: Terry Barber has one of the rarest voice types in the world — a countertenor — which means he can sing in the range above tenor. On June 30, he will perform at the Sellersville Theater. PHOTO: Thomas Winter

Countless entertainers have sung Lloyd Webber’s classics over the years. Tunes from Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar have become embedded in our modern-day culture, but they’ve rarely been heard in the style of Barber.

A countertenor, the rarest voice type in the world, Barber’s voice spans more than four octaves, which means he can comfortably sing in the range above tenor, where women are typically heard. For Barber, Lloyd Webber’s classics are a joy to perform and share with an audience.

“The extreme range of style in Lloyd Webber’s compositions is what excites me about performing this work,” he explained. “From the rock sound of Jesus Christ Superstar, to the traditional musical theater sounds in Evita, to the more classical sounds in The Phantom of the Opera, I’m able to share songs written for the baritone through soprano voice, and also a broad range of entertaining characters from romantic leads to villains.”

Though he has since transitioned to the Midwest, Barber is an East Coast native with humble beginnings in Hanover, N.J. From the time he was in kindergarten, it was clear his voice was something special. The first person to recognize his talent (besides his mother) was his kindergarten teacher who started and ended each day’s lesson with music. Most days, Barber got to sing at the front of the class, which was one of the first times he was singled out for having unique skills.

Several years later, Barber joined a newly formed Christmas operetta, performing at the local mall. Around the same time, he was extended an invitation to join a boys choir but had to turn it down. While some parents are able to make helping their child succeed in the entertainment business a career, Barber didn’t have this luxury with his mother committed to a full-time job. Still, he understood and worked that much harder to make a career for himself.

While still pursuing music, Barber graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in engineering, which has now turned into a side hobby.

“For most people, it’s the opposite,” he laughed.

From childhood, he knew he had a unique voice, but he didn’t fully recognize it until the professor of one of his music classes told him his upper voice could be a viable career path. Since the countertenor isn’t highly recognized in the U.S., Barber continued his music studies in England, where it’s viewed as a specialized voice type. His time abroad gave him the chance to work with some of the best countertenors in the business, tour the country with the Kent Opera and perform at Queen Elizabeth Hall, and have the scores of various international composers put directly into his hand.

But in the middle of his journey to the spotlight, Barber’s mother, his first and biggest supporter, passed away due to cancer. In reaction to his loss, he set out to give back. His nonprofit, Artists for a Cause, was formed to help performers use their talents for community improvement such as feeding the poor or healing the sick, all while solving the problems through unique artistic solutions.

“It’s about supporting the arts and culture while meeting needs,” he said.

As for upcoming projects, Barber may have to make the move back East. He recently received several inquiries about performing in a Broadway production, though he can’t reveal which just yet until contracts are finalized. Another tour is already in the works for later this year, and viewers can catch him on QVC this winter promoting his latest album Christmas Presence, which received six Grammy nominations.

The classics: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber will include musical theater favorites from The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar and more. PHOTO: TERRY BARBER

The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber production at the Sellersville Theater will be a very intimate gathering featuring only Barber and a pianist. The night will include hits from 10 of Lloyd Webber’s most beloved shows, including “Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera, “Heaven On Their Minds” from Jesus Christ Superstar, and “Memory” from Cats, in addition to other selections from Evita, Sunset Boulevard, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Requiem and more.

Tickets begin at $29.50 and are available by contacting the Sellersville Theater box office at 215–257–5808 or by going to st94.com. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m. For more information on Artists for a Cause, visit a4ac.org. To view Barber’s full discography and upcoming shows, visit terrybarber.com. ••

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