Glitterbox Spotlight: Barbara Tucker

Posted on August 27, 2014

Barbara Tucker is without doubt one of clubland’s all-time biggest and most successful vocalists.  Her golden tonsils have impacted on dance music around the world on both a mainstream and underground level, best associated with legendary house label Strictly Rhythm but also gloriously tied to imprints King Street, Azuli, Positiva (EMI), suSU and Soundmen On Wax.  Ms Tucker is due to play Glitterbox at Booom Ibiza Saturday 30 August following several ecstatic performances already.

Barbara Tucker is best remembered for her slew of magical soul-house tracks during house’s mid-Nineties heyday.  Songs such as ‘Beautiful People’ (1994), ‘I Get Lifted’ (1994), ‘Stay Together’ (1995), ‘Bring You Love’ (1997) and ‘Stop Playing With My Mind’ (1999) will live long in the memory (and feet), but Tucker has enjoyed considerable success since alongside the likes of David Guetta (‘Give Me Something’, 2003), Blaze (‘Most Precious Love’, 2004) and Djaimin & Oliver P (‘Fly’, 2010).  Where her voice has reached beyond the realms of underground house to other scenes, especially the emergent EDM one, it has always delivered soulful, emotive balance and ensured the varying, energetic productions beneath it actually mean something.  In a world dominated by the DJ and producer, Barbara Tucker is a rare example of the singer holding her own and ensuring top, quality billing.

Today, Ms Tucker has much to look forward to.  Continual gigs all over the world, major 30th anniversary plans for 2015 (impressively, next year is Tucker’s 30th in the “music game”) and the prospect of a new album.  Exciting times....

Barbara, tell us about your experiences of Glitterbox so far this summer?

I’ve felt honoured to be a part of it.  It’s a wonderful party which a lot of people on the island have been talking about.  Me?  I’ve been performing there with DJ Q and mixing classic songs up, and that has been very well received.  Crucially, we get to be free.  It’s a fairly unique situation and great to see Ibiza, such an important dance scene, supporting vocal, soulful house again.  I’m thrilled.

So what is your take on Ibiza today?

I live here every summer and this year is my 14th season on the island.  In my opinion, the truly passionate people will always find a Glitterbox experience here if they really want to.  Those amazing experiences are here but you have to look.  Otherwise, yes, there are always commercial parties around.  DJs you’d never heard of five years ago are now, suddenly, major names receiving up to 70,000 Euros a gig.  And these younger guys always have a team around them, marketing and preparing them.  It’s like baking a cake, a formula for driving forward new stars and, ultimately, financial gain.

Criticism of Ibiza’s commercialism has increased this summer – is the White Isle in trouble?

From a musical perspective, as I say, the great parties will always exist but the focus on business is stronger.  There are some fantastic new DJs but they also need a production outlet otherwise they don’t ever stand out.  A lot of the big new DJs only have one-hour sets into which they rigidly squeeze Top 10 hits and their own back catalogue.  That leaves no room for creativity; it’s all formula.  Some of these guys are not playing from the heart which is a shame.  When I perform with Q, we’ll bring a different set of ideas to each and every gig, and those might change again when we feel the audience.  Of course, giving people an emotional, spiritual experience is most important.

So what have you got coming up beyond the summer?

I’ll be in London on 4 October for a Back To 95 party, and then there are shows in Australia and Italy.  I have the We Can Heal House choir; our intention is to tour churches and festivals…wherever doors open. Any house artists can join us as and when they have the time. Our goal is to show unity and the togetherness of house artists for humanity - we’re looking to raise funds for, and awareness of the plight of homeless women. I’m also working on other songs and remixes to raise funds for [Brooklyn community charity] the Shelter for Homeless Women and working on a project with DJ Q – The Barb&Q Project. He’s the rapper-MC and I’m the songstress, so we’re looking at fun, jammin’ tracks for the dancefloor.  It feels great to be so busy.  I’m not at all jaded, I’m still on a mission to bring on inspiring music.

And next year – 30 years in the business?

It’s going to be crazy...amazing!  I’m getting a great group of people together for an anniversary party at the Miami Conference which will kick things off.  I want it to be true to the music but also have a little red carpet class...not be some dingy basement affair.  I think it’s important to show that we’re all still here and how far our music has come.  After that, I’ll be looking to release an anniversary album combining remixes of my classic songs as well as some entirely new songs.  I’m proud to have Kenny ‘Dope’ [Gonzalez], David Morales, Terry Hunter and Quentin Harris on board as guests, among others. It’s been a nightmare aligning schedules for everyone but there’s a lot of love to make this happen and I’m praying that it gets there soon!

Do you have a view on your career thus far?  Is the impending anniversary occasion to reflect?

It was easier back then...when the labels were more artist-driven.  Today, there’s social networking and our industry is driven by fame not talent.  From a technology point of view, records are made by simply pressing buttons and looping - the emotions won’t come out like that.  I like to think I’ve maintained my own quality throughout my career.  I’m fairly unique, too, in being Strictly Rhythm’s longest serving house artist.  I’ve always been committed and will carry on that way.  When I retire I need to have a legacy to awaken and inspire future generations. I’m still on a mission.

So you feel there’s a lot more to do?

Yes.  And as God gives direction I will get there.  Some of these artists today are making huge amounts of money but they’re not nurturing the next generation, they’re focused on themselves.  That’s a short-term outlook, they’re likely to disappear as quickly as they arrived.  An artist like Frankie Knuckles, he nurtured and supported other artists in everything he did.  That’s why he had a street named after him and why he has been honoured in so many ways.  He has a powerful legacy and that’s worth far more than any money.

Barbara Tucker plays Glitterbox at Booom Ibiza Saturday 30 August alongside Joey Negro, Late Nite Tuff Guy, Simon Dunmore, Mr Doris and Shovell on Percussion - click for tickets

Defected presents Glitterbox Ibiza 2014 is out now on Defected Records - order from iTunes