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Barb Jungr (born 9 May 1954) is an English singer-songwriter, composer and writer, of Czech and German parentage. She is known as a chansonnière, or singer of chansons—in the sense of classic, lyric-driven French songs; in the broader sense of European songs in the cabaret style; and in the even broader sense of a diverse range of songs interpreted in this style. She has become best known for her work with, or "interpretations" of, the songs of Bob Dylan. A song-stylist incorporating jazz and blues, her approach often includes radical re-readings of known writers as well as original material.
Barb Jungr was born in Rochdale, England, to immigrant parents. Her father was Miroslav Jungr, a Czech scientist; her mother was Ingrid Jungr, a German nurse. The eldest of three, she grew up in Stockport, Cheshire, where she attended Stockport Convent School for Girls before gaining a BSc from Leeds University. Miroslav Jungr came to Britain as a refugee after the Second World War and incarceration in the German Work Camps. Jungr has referred to the impact of this in her recent songwriting.
First arriving in London in the mid 1970s, Jungr worked with playwright Pam Gems and composer Paul Sand, appearing as the singer at the Edinburgh festival production of Gem's play "Dead Fish" which subsequently became 'Dusa Fish Stas and Vi'. Jungr's first single was "He's Gone", as The Stroke, released by CBS records, was single of the week in the NME and was written and recorded with her then husband Dan Bowling.
Barb then formed The Three Courgettes with Michael Parker and Jerry Kreeger, and busked new wave versions of gospel classics in the Kings Road and Portobello Market in the late 1970s, 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). The Three Courgettes recorded a special Christmas track for Michael Zilkha's A Christmas Record.
She then 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) and co-produced Clary's single "Wandering Star" as well as several other tracks.
Jungr and Parker released 6 albums of largely self written material, with a vinyl release compilation of early songs for Billy Bragg's Utility Label. Jungr subsequently played harmonica on Bragg's album Worker's Playtime. In 1991 Jungr and Parker performed in a Festival of European music in Sudan, funded by The British Council. The success of that trip lead to them performing and giving workshops in Cameroon, Tanzania, Malawi and Burma. Jungr wrote about these experiences for The Guardian Diary, Folk Roots and The Singer and in 1994 enrolled in a Masters at Goldsmiths College in Ethnomusicology for which she received a Distinction. During that time Jungr began to embark on solo shows accompanied by Russell Churney, and broke into a new solo career with the release on the Irregular Label of the CD, Bare which was recorded in a day, live at The Conway Hall with the support of Overtones Studios.
In the early 1990s 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. 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 1999 Jungr was invited to record for Glasgow based Linn Records, releasing Chanson: The Space In Between in 2000, centred around a series of new English translations of classic French chansons. In 2002, she released Every Grain Of Sand, an album of new arrangements of Bob Dylan’s songs, followed by Waterloo Sunset in 2003.Appearing in a New York season at The Flea Theatre in 2002 she was awarded the Backstage Bistro Award in New York in 2003 for Best International Artist. In 2004 she recorded Love Me Tender, an album of songs recorded by Elvis Presley for release in March 2005 followed by Walking in The Sun (2006), featuring guitarist Eric Bibb. In 2007 Jungr collaborated with British composer Mark Anthony Turnage, appearing with The London Sinfonietta in a commissioned piece About Water at Queen Elizabeth Hall to celebrate the reopening of The Festival Hall. In 2008 Barb released Just Like a Woman – Hymn to Nina featuring the repertoire of Nina Simone, and was awarded a Nightlife Award in New York in 2008 for "Outstanding Cabaret Vocalist". In March 2010 NaimLabel released The Men I Love – The New American Songbook and performed a second season at the Cafe Carlyle in the Carlyle Hotel, New York. In Spring 2010. Jungr released a follow up to her cult Dylan album in May 2011 on Linn Records – Man in the Long Black Coat: Barb Jungr Sings Bob Dylan. In 2012 she released Stockport to Memphis, again on the Naim Jazz label, including self penned and autobiographical material amongst her now highly acclaimed deconstructions of classic songs.
Other collaborations include composer Jonathan Cooper on his "Moon Behind The Clouds" song cycle, the cabaret show 'Girl Talk' with Mari Wilson and Claire Martin, and Gwyneth Herbert which toured intermittently for 10 years and the trio Durga Rising with the Southall based tabla player Kuljit Bhamra and pianist Russell Churney, the CD of which was released on Keda Records and re-released in 2011. Fanart Banner