Photo by Jon Chase
Her hands touch the keys and her voice lifts, at first tentative and quavering, then firm and full. Her diction is clean and precise, nothing garbled or distorted. The words are the thing here – words that tell a story.
Meet Barbara Baig, writer and performer of cabaret songs. “Intimate theater” is how she describes her art. “It’s my passion,” she says, “combining words and music.”
Her songs are built around characters and situations. In “Somewhere He Waits,” a divorced man wonders what to do with his life. In “The Night B.B. King Sang the Blues,” a white teenager hears the blues legend perform and it changes his life. Some are humorous. In “I Hate to Cook,” a woman describes all the dishes she does not prepare.
Baig believes that her skills as a songwriter help her in her other job – teaching writing to students in the Divinity School, a job she has held for 15 years.
“You have to learn to tap into your subconscious, but also to think about what you’re saying and make it clear. All writing is about communication. You have to ask yourself, would this be meaningful for people?”
But both kinds of writing are also about sound. Words and music – that’s the key, whether it’s a song or a sermon.
“Really good writing speaks to the inner ear. If you can write prose that’s alive, that has rhythms, that’s sensitive to the sounds of language, people will read it.”
Baig’s artistry can be heard on her new CD, “Right Here,” or at her CD release concert at Johnny D’s in Davis Square, Somerville, on June 19.
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