Photography by Randall Kahn
While his classically trained voice has awarded him the spotlight on the world’s most renowned stages—from the Metropolitan Opera to Moscow’s Svetlanov Hall—vocalist Terry Barber knows there’s no place like the Treasure Coast.
“It will always be one of my homes, no matter where I live,” Barber says.
The area is fortunate to have him: Barber is a countertenor—the rarest voice type—which means he can sing comfortably in the range women sing.
“In the pop music world, that is not strange,” Barber explains. “People don’t think twice when they hear Sam Smith or Frankie Valli or the Bee Gees. But when you use a classical singing technique and sing in that same range, people’s eyes kind of pop out of their heads.”
Now based in the Northeast and the father of 10-year-old twins, Barber first moved to South Florida in 2007 to be near family in Palm City and Port St. Lucie. While working with a major cancer organization in the wake of losing his mother, Barber began to recognize the need for an advocate between artists and the charities they support.
“I’ve been able to help hundreds of artists in the Treasure Coast to use their talent to meet all kinds of different needs,” explains Barber. Examples include providing music or art enrichment programs to the elderly or using dance to feed the poor or comfort the sick. “All the programs have a dual impact in that they support artists first and then help them use their talent to meet a need in the community. It’s not ever art for art’s sake, which I do a lot in my own career, but that’s not the point of this organization.”
Through Artists for a Cause, Barber also supports local up-and-coming talent by involving them in his own tours, providing an opportunity for professional experience, mentorship and coaching. One such artist is Palm City’s Eliza Levy, who will join Barber’s tour in northern New York this month.
“Eliza is an outstanding vocalist and becoming quite an actress and dancer as well,” Barber says. “Her goal is Broadway, I believe. One of the things I really like about her talent is the range of sounds that she can make
Barber, too, uses his talent in a range of styles, from popular music to rock to opera. He was recently the featured entertainer at the Arts Council of Martin County’s fortieth anniversary gala, where he performed works in Italian—he’s sung in 16 languages so far—and his lauded Freddie Mercury tribute production returns home to The Lyric Theatre on April 17.
A lifelong learner—he has a master’s degree in historically informed performance from Trinity College London—Barber prepared the program “by reading five biographies about Freddie” and listening to live interviews, enabling him to understand and thus share with audiences the larger-than-life persona of Queen’s legendary frontman.
“I want to make art and music for everybody,” Barber says. “My biggest goal as an artist—and, I think, the greatest goal of any artist—should be to make people feel.”