Can you name one law firm partner who has had major-label record deal and a hit single, has written songs for artists as varied as Jeff Beck and New Edition, and now sings opera? She's a member of Mesh, and you're about to meet her.
Mesh is an online and offline community of professionals with creative second lives. Perfect for Tina Barker, known in her early days as Tina B, who got her start as a New York City diva in the early 80s. She talk to HITC about life then, life now, and the truth about old adages.
The New York scene must have been something in 1981, when your first project came out ("Jazzy Sensation" with Afrika Bambaata), and you started recording with Rockers Revenge. What defined that time?
It was an open time - music was changing and a lot of people thought that rap music was just a fad that would die away soon. (Boy were they wrong!) It was very exciting to be part of what felt like a seminal music movement.
When you were signed by Elektra in 1983, how did you view your Boston University Law Degree?
I swore I would never practice law again (which is a testimony to the adage "Never Say Never")!
The characters in the "Bodyguard" video are hilarious. How did Adam Yauch and Mike Dee of the Beastie Boys get involved?
I knew them from years before. We owned a recording studio called Shakedown Sound and Adam worked there as an assistant. The Beastie Boys also recorded their demos there. Adam was looking to direct a video, so we decided to do it with him. He wrote it as well.
In 1992 you returned to law and started studying opera. A big change from the previous almost 10 years, which you spent recording with dozens of artists in the world of pop, rock, reggae and R&B. How did you find your way to opera?
I always sang opera with voice teachers to develop my voice and fell in love with it. I saw many operas when I lived in New York (Pavarotti in Tosca, for example). After losing my last record deal, I didn't sing for a bit and then woke up in the middle of the night with an aria going through my head. I spent the next days and weeks listening and found a new teacher and got studying!
Since moving to London in 2000, you've become a partner at Brown Rudnick, and you've created what could almost be defined as a new genre - operatronix. For those not indoctrinated, what's operatronix?
It was actually created by my former partner, Musician/Producer George Christie. If you go to www.myspace.com/miazmo you will get the full description - operatic vocals with electronica beats and ambiance.
As an outsider looking in, it seems like you've done it all. What's next? Or is that what going to Mars without a space ship (as we read on your website) is all about? Good luck with that!
There is always another horizon! I am working on a project to be unleashed on Valentine's Day with producer Ray Hayden called "Some Things Are Timeless". Ray has recorded some great soul classics in a classical style and we have written some new songs, wome of which are being sung by me in a classical/soul style. If it takes off, could be to Mars...
Visit Tina B's MySpace page to listen to Operatronix.
For more information, visit her website.