It takes legendary qualities to have a career that spans over thirty years in the music industry. It takes titan-esque qualities to be a part of the initial waves of a musical genre and to become “the Queen” of said genre. Barbara Tucker is that Queen of House music and she is still a titanic figure in dance music.
Ms. Tucker’s career has been nothing short of extraordinary. She has brought to this world multiple dance hits, which still appear in countless DJ sets to this day and still influence the genre. She has inspired many musically and now she inspires many more through her charitable works. She is a beacon that illuminates the humble and just pathway to stardom.
We at CULTR felt it was necessary for us to sit-down with the Queen of House and understand the genius that Ms. Tucker has unleashed upon the universe. Fortunately for us, she said yes and entertained our questions. Without further adieu, here is our interview with Barbara Tucker.
How did you get started in the dance world? What attracted you to the burgeoning scene?
Growing up in Brooklyn, coming out of church I’ve always been artistic in the world of dance, theater and music. As time went on, I was a part of a dance group in Brooklyn called Internal Combustion. We would rehearse at a club called The Ozone Layer where David Morales was the DJ. There was all kinds of inspiration around me.
You’ve been dubbed the Queen of House, how does it feel to be dubbed as such and be seen as a legend in the genre?
I’ve been called that and at first didn’t think much about it, then one day in Ibiza doing a Soul Heaven party with Fleur Woolford, DJ Louie Vega was on the bill and asked to introduce me. His words were heartfelt, and at the end he said, “to me she is the Queen of House.” There I started to embrace it – being here now 35 years, whether choreographing promoting events, mentoring, sessions, writing, producing, panels – I feel I’ve earned it!
In your words, what makes a great dance record?
What makes a good dance record to me is to start with a beat – one you’d still be dancin to on its own, some cool sexy chords that make you wanna start singing, a funky bassline with that sexy feel – which can bring a happy feeling mixture, a label behind it, a diva vocal on it, strong backgrounds…and there you would have something powerful!
You’ve had seven #1 Dance Records, do you have a favorite of the lot? Or do you have a favorite record outside of those?
I’ve actually had nine #1 Billboard hits, but Google has not caught up, ha! I have some new tunes dropping and I fall in love with the ones that are more community/humanitarian based. There’s never just one.
We’re coming up on the 20th anniversary of “Stop Playing With My Mind”. What can you share with us about the initial release, the feeling as it took off, or anything else about the track? Any plans for an anniversary release?
So Duane Harden and myself wrote “Stop Playin With My Mind” and it was a ke-ke in the studio with producer Freddy Turner (1/2 of the production team “Whiplash and Turner”) that did the music. This song is based on a guy who doesn’t know if he wants to be with a man or a woman, but he’s attracted to this woman, so we went back and forth with a love-tug kinda thing. Initially, Duane was supposed to be on the record but in the end, we were blessed with Darryl D’Bonneau. Duane and I did the first performance of it in Ibiza on the Strictly Rhythm tour in 1998.
What are some of your favorite current house records or artists?
There are some new artists coming up like Cynthia Tucker, love how powerful her voice is. I love Onita Boone’s remake of “Aint’t Nobody,” her vocals are bananas. Also loving the new track by DjQ on I Am House/Music Plant, “Come to the Dance Floor” – that bumps with his Barry White voice MC-ing on it. There’s also a song on Quantize called, “If You Really Love House,” that track drives me up!
Are there any artists you think are poised for a breakout or deserve some more attention?
I think DjQ with his voice is here to rock the dance floor. We can do with more of those pumping jackin’ rappers on the tracks, they wake up the floor like Mike Dunn.
Your career has spanned over three decades. From your perspective, how has the industry evolved? What do you think is the next evolution and how can we prepare for these changes?
So now here 35 years later since my first recording “Set It Off” with Harlequin 4/Jus Borne Records, times have definitely changed. Unfortunately I don’t know if we are ready. There’s no artist development like there was before, just quicky tracks for the moment. We’re needing more songs for the long-run. There’s tons of indie labels but they don’t nurture artists like they used to. Sometimes they use name-brand hype to build on a song, and then we don’t see them, we see the DJ. I’d like to see more unity with these collaborations. We need “think tanks” and new visions. Who’s going to the conferences, where are the artists? I personally love conferences and meeting my music community.
You’ve become quite involved in humanitarian work. What can you tell us about your work?
I am proud to be a part of the Bookbank Foundation founded by Dr. Glenn Toby where we bring awareness of the shelters and homelessness in the New York area. We also do an annual fundraiser concert with 20 house artists and the proceeds fund needs in the shelters. We rent 2 huge buses and hit various shelters in one day, bringing clothes, toiletries, books, inspiration, songs, love, and empowerment. I’ve written 2 songs around this – one we sung at the finale of the WMC awards show in 2014 called “WE CAN HEAL” and the other in 2019 for Nervous Records “LIVE DREAM HOPE LOVE,” which should be released soon. I also work a lot with the Zoe Ministries prayer line – I love praying for people and helping them.
You have a wealth of knowledge and experience in this industry. Is there a piece of advice you’d like to share for young artists, music business professionals or even young dreamers?
One thing I know is God our creator gave us the gift of creative music – never forget that, and use that gift to bless the world. Adding some joy and happiness and inspiration through your works, do it for the love and people will feel that passion as you create it authentically. Good things will follow.
Anything else you would like to tell readers?
I do wanna say, don’t get tired or give up. God entrusted you to bring what he placed on the inside of you, out for the world. Yes there are going to be some pitfalls, some haters, some challenges, but I think it’s all just to see how strong you want to be as a creator and to see if you really believe in yourself. So keep pushing forward, you got this 🙂