Barbara was born in Oxford and educated at Queen’s College, Harley Street, London and the Royal College of Music, where she studied clarinet, piano, flute and composition. Whilst retaining a strong interest in classical music, Barbara was captivated by the jazz work of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane and developed a consuming passion for the saxophone. She formed her own group Paraphernalia in 1977. The band , still touring and recording despite Barbara being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1997, became one of the major instrumental attractions on the European concert scene. Barbara’s original and inventive compositions and soaring saxophone and flute improvisations, have earned her international acclaim, while the originality of the music has appealed to a wider audience than solely contemporary jazz buffs.
Millions throughout the world have heard the sound of her haunting saxophone playing the title theme to the TV Series, ‘A Touch of Frost’.
Barbara released her 17th album with her band Paraphernalia “Never Say Goodbye”, in 2005. Her most recent release, ‘Perpetual Motion‘, dated 2012, features 10 of her compositions played by the 12 piece Apollo Saxophone Orchestra. Another album featuring her compositions played by ‘Trifarious‘, a clarinet trio with piano and violin led by virtuoso Tim Redpath, is due out later this year.
In 1964, Barbara was invited to take the lead alto chair in The New Jazz Orchestra, a seminal group of young English jazz musicians under the direction of the late Neil Ardley. There she met her husband-to-be, drummer Jon Hiseman, and they married in 1967. They have a son Marcus and a daughter – singer Ana Gracey – and three grand children, Lili, Isabelle and Benjamin.