McNair, Barbara

** This is just a short biographical summary – for the full story, check out this artist’s reviews! **

Variety star and accomplished actress Barbara McNair was famous before she arrived at Motown, and continued to be famous after she left. In between, she was one of Motown’s most successful artists in the MOR sphere, singing standards, pseudostandards and other mainstream pop material, but always with an undeniable soul twist.

Possessed of a fine voice, Barbara received little push at Motown, simply not fitting with most of the label’s output; of the company’s few toe-in-the-water efforts to capture mainstream white American audiences, the most convincing were monopolised by existing big-ticket acts (first Marvin Gaye, later the Supremes and Four Tops), and she left Motown at the end of the Sixties.

She continued to lead a fascinating life until she passed away in 2007: she was one of the first African-American entertainers to get her own televised variety show (the unimaginatively-named The Barbara McNair Show), she flew to Vietnam to entertain the troops (striking up an unlikely friendship with Bob Hope in the process), her showbiz mogul husband (her third) was later murdered by the Mafia amid dark rumours of FBI involvement, and – if all this wasn’t interesting enough – she also became one of the earliest black women to pose naked for Playboy. If ever there was a Motown artist who needed a TV miniseries making of their life story, it’s surely Miss McNair.

Review Archive: Barbara McNAIR (2 items)

We have 2 reviews for Barbara McNair currently available here on Motown Junkies – click the link above to see our archive for more details.

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