Listeners to “Smiley & West” this weekend will hear a surprise guest appearance by Barbra Streisand. The appearance was such a surprise that Tavis Smiley and Cornel West had no idea that the legendary singer was going to call in.
The program, distributed by Public Radio International (PRI), begins airing Friday (4/20) on public radio stations nationwide. For the particular episode, Smiley and West pay tribute to the Academy Award-winning husband-and-wife songwriting duo Alan and Marilyn Bergman. The radio show pays homage to the Bergmans’ stellar lyrical career and learns the secrets behind their 54 year marriage.
Unbeknownst to either the hosts or the guests, Barbra Streisand surprised everyone by calling in to reflect on her long friendship with the Bergmans. Streisand, who was just 18 years old when the three met, became the Bergmans’ muse and recorded a vast number of their songs including “The Way We Were”, “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?”, and the soundtrack to “Yentl.”
“It’s the integrity of the lyric, the imagination of the lyric, the poetry of the lyric,” Streisand said, reflecting on the Bergman’s lyrical genius. “It just has great depth. I don’t know of anyone that comes close to them.”
Last year, Streisand recorded an entire album in tribute to the Bergmans titled “What Matters Most.” While she was on the line, West took the opportunity to wish Streisand an early happy birthday. That is coming Tuesday, April 24.
In addition to being broadcast on affiliate radio stations, the special conversation can also be heard on www.smileyandwest.com starting this Friday, April 20.