“I’m stuck with the leftovers,” Barbra Streisand cracked as she took the stage at the MusiCares Person of the Year gala dinner, an annual Grammy tradition that brings together more than a dozen marquee names in music in tribute to one of their own. She’s referring to her library of songs, many of which had already been sung on Friday night at the Los Angeles Convention Center by the likes of longtime friends Barry Manilow (“Memory”) and Tony Bennett (“Smile), fans, like Glee’s Lea Michele (“My Man”) and Leona Lewis (“Somewhere”), collaborators, like Diana Krall, who produced Streisand’s 2009 album Love is the Answer, and the unlikely but awesome trio of Jeff Beck, BeBe Winans and LeAnn Rimes, who traded verses on a rousing “Come Rain or Come Shine.”
Among the standout moments: Faith Hill’s moving rendition of “Send in the Clowns,” Seal’s take on “Guilty,” which could be a hit for the singer today, Matthew Morrison’s duet with Kristin Chenoweth who prompted enthusiastic applause with their playful rendition of “One Less Bell to Answer” and the opening number, “What Kind of Fool,” performed by Glee’s Darren Criss and the Warblers.
Looking down from the stage at an audience of several thousand music industry movers and shakers in black tie, including her manager of almost half a century Marty Erlichman who, Streisand joked, “discovered me in the neo-natal unit of Brooklyn Hospital,” it’s no wonder the iconic singer-actress got a little “verklempt” (her words) as she accepted the honor. Said Manilow, after noting that neither he nor Streisand ever really understood the lyrics to the Cats theme song: “I think Barbra Streisand should be given an award like this every year!”
Prince, who had been casually strolling the hall earlier, to the astonishment of many, including admitted MusiCares “virgin” and American Idol runner-up Crystal Bowersox, introduced Streisand to the stage. After a round of thank yous and some numerological insight (24, her lucky number, keeps coming up this Grammy year, exactly 24 years since she won for the Broadway album), Streisand eloquently quoted Hans Christian Anderson in referring to times during her professional life when things weren’t going so well. "When words fail, music speaks," said Steisand, before launching into her medley of “leftovers,” which included “The Way We Were” and “I Finally Found Someone.”
The Streisand love was in high gear earlier on the red carpet, too when many of the performers felt it was their honor just to be in the same room. Said Krall, “Comedian, singer, actress, passionate about design, philanthropist, director, writer… she's a genuine artist. I felt really fortunate to just play the piano and have her singing with me.” Streisand is also one hell of a card player, Krall revealed. That’s what the two would play after a multitude of takes. Streisand’s game? Gin Rummy. “Oh, she’s good,” Krall told The Hollywood Reporter. “She’s Barbra Streisand.”