Patricia Barber (born November 8, 1955, Chicago, Illinois) is an American jazz and blues singer, pianist, songwriter, and bandleader. She was awarded Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003 in Creative Arts - Music Composition field.
She was born to parents who were both professional musicians; her father is Floyd "Shim" Barber, a former member of Glenn Miller's Band. She was raised in South Sioux City, Nebraska.
Her music is centered on her singing, in a fairly low register and a traditional blues-jazz style, and her piano playing, which is technically accomplished. Her repertoire includes original compositions and standards drawn mostly from classic rock, including "Ode to Billie Joe," "A Taste of Honey," and "Black Magic Woman." She is known for imbuing her songs with intelligence and a wide and unusual vocabulary, which results in complex and witty lyrics. Her 2006 album, Mythologies, is a set of songs based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. In 2007, Premonition Records presented The Premonition Years: 1994-2002, a three-CD box set of Barber recordings divided into originals, standards, and pop. The set includes unreleased tracks and selected songs previously released on Cafe Blue, Modern Cool, Companion, Nightclub and Verse. Those five albums have been reissued by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab on SACD and limited edition 45 rpm half speed mastered, 180 gram audiophile vinyl. In September 2008, she released "The Cole Porter Mix," a collection of her unique takes on the classic Cole Porter songbook, as well as three original compositions inspired by Porter.
Barber is a lesbian; interviews with her suggest that she does not try to hide this fact, but that she 'tires' of the public interest in her sexuality and dislikes the fact that it contributes to her fame. In November 2008, she was interviewed by Gregg Shapiro of Gay & Lesbian Times, a San Diego magazine.
Verse by Patricia Barber (Blue Note Records) (2002), reviewed by Baul West, Allaboutjazz:
In addition to the assured performing of virtually everyone on board, Verse is a prime showcase for Barber's writing - all work on the album is original - and the lyrics themselves have a dreamy, open quality. The first track, "Lost in This Love," consists solely of questions, indeed allowing us to get lost in Barber's love. Love of fine jazz, that is, in an album of unquestionable passion and power that would be foolish for any jazz fan to pass up.