HER POWERHOUSE VOICE AND presence has established her as the diva of house music. Think of the classic songs: “Deep Inside”, “Beautiful People”, “I Get Lifted” and “Jazz it Up”.
But Barbara Tucker is more than just a singer. She is a choreographer, dancer, promoter and all-around ambassador for the dance music scene.
In her early days of clubbing, she choreographed and danced with Shannon, C&C Music Factory, Jay Williams, Sabel, BWP, Johnny O, Jovann, Butch Quick, Soul System, and Too Nice. She is the cofounder of The Underground Network, the longest running club night in New York City history. She promotes this night by organizing tours and booking/producing up-and-coming artists from Tokyo and Africa to Chicago and London.
Barbara is also the creator of the B-Crew Project that featured well-known singers such as herself, Mone, Dajae and Ultra Naté. She has worked with numerous artists such as Byron Stingily, Duane Harden, Inaya Day and George Morel, as well as with top producers Tommy Musto, Little Louie Vega, Lil Louis, Danny Tenaglia, Mood II Swing, and Blaze.
Miss Tucker continues to create and perform, and her energy is boundless. She spoke with 5 Magazine about her projects, her philosophy, and gives a new viewpoint on some of the weakness of the House community…
I see you have received accolades not only from singing, but for acting and dancing as well. Did you train in all three genres growing up?
Yes, I have had some form of training.
Did you always want to sing house music?
I didn’t want to sing. I wanted to be a teacher or a flight attendant. I guess it was in the stars.
Tell us more about your dancing and choreography. Where in New York did you train?
I took classes in school and danced with various dance companies, from Internal Combustion to Keith SQ Dance Company.
You were cofounder of The Underground Network, New York’s longest running club night. Can you tell us more about this night?
The Underground Network started in 1992 with Don Welch, Willie Wall, another young lady and myself. The first year at the elite location in Manhattan, we alternated DJs from Frankie Knuckles, Camacho, DJ Paradise, David Morales, Little Louie Vega… but of course there were more. Following that year, we moved to the Sound Factory Bar and needed a resident DJ. We asked around, and finally Lil Louie Vega said yes. Together we grew supporting artists, over 300 shows, dance troupes and fashion shows.
We were the party that supported the community as a whole. Don and I came up with all the themes and it was a family. At that time we were the longest Wednesday night house party recognized by the promoters’ community and won an award for that. We did tours, dance contests, gospel shows, etc… We had a blast!
Growing up in New York, did you go out to all the house clubs every night? Do you still go to them now?
I went out many nights, four out of seven or five out of seven, depending on the event. That’s how I became a promoter. Knowing all the hot parties… At that time I was working with Deee-lite, doing videos and touring between parties.
What can you see are the differences in the house scene between New York and Chicago?
It seems to me that New York was more creative dance-wise. That’s why we had so many dance contests. We are open and pushing this thing up, not worrying so much of who came first. Just happy to be down.
How do you feel about hip-hop music taking over more and more house residencies everyday? What can we do about this?
I love hip-hop with R&B. Hey, when a community is one, they are strong. We (house) are all over the place. Every culture taking from the foundation, not wanting to preserve it as much as destroy the fundamental sound. They in rap respect the pioneers. The house community today barely wants to remember the first five years of artists like Jomanda, Adeva, On Top or Phase II.
I always say, we have no unity so there is no real community. And where there’s no community how can there be unity?
Tell us about the B-Crew Project.
The B Crew is a brainchild of mine. The first group of singers consisted of Dajae, Mone, Ultra Nate and myself. Just wanting to show unity among house singers. It was a project I did for Strictly Rhythm at the time. Now we still perform, but with different players. More like a Jones Girls doing house music.
What do you attribute your success to?
I attribute my success to loving, respecting and teaching what I do. I give God praise and thanks everyday for this blessed music. I don’t give up, I don’t stop, I am appreciative, and I don’t do the diva thing! I just do… I work my craft as an art. It’s a package, not just a voice! You must entertain! People need to feel your heart and the soul of what you’re doing…
It seems more difficult for a house vocalist to become recognized compared to DJs and producers. How did you overcome this?
I don’t look at myself as a singer. I am an activist for this thing. I promote this, I eat this, dream it, and I am always there for the next person. Hey, I’ve been in this business for twenty years, I have so much to be thankful for.
Now I am working on my label, B Star Records. I’m producing, staging, a consulting artist, hosting parties in Ibiza and promoting other artists every year for the WMC.
I invest in myself. I love networking and I love meeting other cultures and respect and love how God moves through other performers. When I have down time, I serve. Volunteer at the church, help young people, mentor and I don’t make it about me, it’s always about the person or people you’re trying to lead to get the message through song to!
God bless you and thank you for all your time!