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Barbra Streisand, 'Right As The Rain'

It's tough to find more lustrous, viscerally alive singing than this. It's 1962, and a 20-year-old Barbra Streisand, at the dawn of her spectacular career, takes a solid but unassuming love ballad and displays all the potential of the human voice in three minutes. The song, from the liberal-minded 1944 comedy Bloomer Girl, is by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, the same team who gave us "Over the Rainbow." Streisand recorded "Right as the Rain" for her second album, but this earlier, previously unreleased version (made even before her debut album) is more urgent, honest and less calculated. It also benefits from a more transparent arrangement. Even at 20, the Streisand voice is fully formed, with its tonal beauty, signature extravagant phrasing, supreme breath control and an attitude that shouts, "Listen to me, I've got something to say."

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Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.