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Barbara Carr
By David Beardsley

Barbara Carr has been a St. Louis music fixture since her days growing up singing with her family in the Baptist church. A veteran performer, Barbara has performed with everyone from the Memphis icon Rufus Thomas, to our own hometown legend Oliver Sain. Please welcome Barbara Carr as our spotlight artist.

BN: On behalf of STLBlues, I want to thank you for granting this interview.

BC: Thank you very much, it's my pleasure being here

BN: Were you born in St. Louis?

BC: Yes, I was.

Were you raised here?

BC: Except for some travels, I've always lived here.

You come from a large family, don't you?

BC: Yes, I do, I'm the oldest of nine siblings.

BN: You developed your musical roots like a lot of people, you started out in the church, singing as a group with your brothers and sisters.

BC: Oh yes, and my mother and father.

BN: And this was here in St. Louis?

BC: Yes, in a little town called Elmwood Park.

BN: What was the name of the church you began singing at?

BC: Mount Zion Baptist Church.

BN: When you were in your teens, you and your sisters formed a musical group called the Crosby Sisters.

BC: Yes, this was from as little girls, growing up in the church. There were us three sisters who sang a lot. We were inspired by our uncles, my Dad's brothers. He had 13 in his family!

BN: After the Crosby sisters, you were in a group called the Crumb Crushers. Tell me a little bit bit about that.

BC: My teacher in grade school formed that group. The Crumb Crushers were a dance group, and we performed on shows like the St. Louis Hop, way back then. (laughs)

BN: After your inspirations from your family, you were also inspired by artists like Faye Adams, (oh yes!) Ruth Brown, and Etta James.

BC: And Koko Taylor, Laverne Baker, Jimmy Reed, Fontella Bass, and so many others. I love Mahalia Jackson (the Gospel singer), Shirley Caesar, 5 Blind Boys, all of them.

BN: In the late 50's, you went on to form a combo called the Comets?

BC: Yes, (laughs) oh yes.

BN: Does that bring back some fond memories?

BC: Yes, it does, that was a very good time of my life. It was a beginning, and it was very exciting. We'd sing all around St. Louis.

BN: You performed at the old Dyna-Flow club (oh yes!), and on Dave Dixon's "Shower of Stars".

BC: Oh yeah, I forgot about that! I enjoyed those days.

BN: You even played with Little Junior Parker.

BC: Yes! That was out at Boatmen's Old Grove, in Maryland Heights.

BN: After that, you moved out to Colorado?

BC: Yes, my husband Charles was in the army, so we lived in Colorado Springs for a few years.

BN: So in 1963, you moved back to St. Louis, and started playing with the Petites?

BC: Yes, that was a group started by William Drain (Charles Drain's brother). From there I went to Oliver Sain. I found him in the Gaslight Square times, in 1965.

BN: Fontella Bass had just left Oliver, and he was looking for a replacement, so then you came along?

BC: Yeah, and he hired me.

BN: You performed with Oliver a lot around Gaslight Square?

BC: Yes, at "The Whiskey a go go", yes it was very, very nice, I enjoyed that.

BN: When you auditioned for Oliver, you performed "When something's on your mind", and then you went on to record with Chess records.

BC: Yes, I was with Oliver then, and I think my very 1st record was "I can't stop now".

BN: And "My Momma told me" was on the flip side of that!

BC: Yes, yes it was!

BN: Oliver had a backup vocal group called "The Olivettes".

BC: Yes, a fantastic group!

BN: You then took a break from recording for about 5 years.

BC: Yes, I wanted to get out on my own.

BN: You then began performing with people like Rufus Thomas.

BC: Yes, oh my goodness.

BN: Jimmie Holliday, you were even with the 5th Dimension for a little bit.

BC: Yes, very little.

BN: So you just played with a variety of people for those 5 years. When you performed with Rufus Thomas, did that take you to Memphis?

BC: Yeah. He was so great. I learned from him, too!

BN: So after you spent time recording with all these different artists, you started recording again with Oliver, and "Think about it, Baby" was your new release. You also recorded "Love me now", your last recording on the Chess label, in 1972. From there you went on to a short staywith a group called "The Soulful Five".

BC: Yes, (laughs) "The Soulful Five", ooh, I forgot about them.

BN: And then you went on to "The Apostles".

BC: And on to the Apostles, yes. I sang with the Apostles for a long time.

BN: What kind of music of music did you perform.

BC: R&B, and Blues.

BN: You branched out a bit at that point, and got into country a bit.

BC: We were having fun, my neighbor and I.

BN: And your fun spun off into a few releases?

BC: It sure did.

BN: And you went to Nashville and recorded a little bit.

BC: Yeah, down to Nashville.

BN: That's great, a little diversity. After that, you decided to finance yourself on a few projects, and got with producer Harrison Calloway.

BC: Oh yes, I wanted my own label, so I started Bar-Car records.

BN: You then recorded some songs like "Summer Nights", and one of your big hits, "Good Woman Go Bad. You also recorded with George Jackson.

BC: Yes, (smiles) George Jackson.

BN: So throughout your career, you've performed with just about everybody.

BC: Yes, I have, uh huh.

BN: Taking you a little farther down the road, you performed with a friend, and a St. Louis legend, Johnnie Johnson.

BC: Yes, that was fun. He inspired me, he's so great!

BN: One of your good friends gave me a little background information on you, and asked me to say Hi - Oliver Sain!

BC: Oh, that's so nice, he is wonderful.

BN: So after recording with Johnnie, you recorded "Black Nights" with Lowell Fulsom, and then followed that with your recording of "Good Woman Go Bad", on your own Bar-Car label.

BC: Yes, I did. "Streetwoman" is my latest Bar-Car release.

BN: What have you been doing since?

BC: Well, I'm performing locally, doing some traveling, and actually I'm with a new record company now, a little record company down in Memphis called Echo Records.

BN: Are you working on a new release?

BC: Yes, I'm working on a new one, and it should be out before the summer's gone. I'm working with Bill Coday and Ollie Nightingale.

BN: Tell me about your personal life. You've been married how many years?

BC: (Laughs) My personal life? I've been married, (laughs again) do you really want to know? Let's see, 36 years. I've been with the same man 36 years, he was my 1st boyfriend.

BN: Did you meet back in high school?

BC: Yes, when I was in high school.

BN: Do you have children?

BC: I have four, three daughters and one son.

BN: Any grandchildren?

BC: I have nine grandchildren.

BN: Barbara, on behalf of The Bluesnet, I want to thank you for granting this interview. It was a pleasure meeting you, and I look forward to your next performance.

BC: And thank you so very, very much!

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