It would be nice to report that Barbra Streisand’s first Grammy performance in three decades found her undimmed and as buttery as ever. Sadly, it didn’t quite work out that way, although her reprise of the 1978 Song of the Year–winning “Evergreen” deserved points for sheer effort—and for the sweet introduction delivered by her A Star is Born costar Kris Kristofferson.

Babs looked nervous—surprising until you consider not only how long it had been for her and how rarely she performs publicly like this. Her voice sounded not so much like the dimmed instrument of someone past her prime as hemmed-in, almost as if she were nursing a cold. She was range-bound throughout, seemingly unable to belt with her renowned abandon. She even missed a couple of notes on the closing “…ageless and ever, evergreen.”

It’s unfair to expect vocal legends to sound undimmed after decades, and even the mighty Streisand is capable of an off-night. (Her medieval-gone-maternity dress was also a bit ill-advised.) Still, even half a Barbra is something to behold, not unlike a comet sighting. She added class to the proceedings—even as she was finished seemingly moments after she began.



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