Did you know that Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear of “Barlow and Bear” were both homeschooled?
Having followed Emily Bear for quite some time (she was featured in the July 2019 issue of Homeschooling Teen) and only recently being introduced to Abigail Barlow, I’m excited that the two of them have found their perfect niche as a musical duo. Barlow and Bear’s music is fresh and fun, combining elements from the pop, classical and jazz worlds that they came from, in the style of traditional musicals and Broadway shows.
Emily Bear and Abigail Barlow are the composers of the viral success, The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical, which quickly soared to #1 on the pop charts and Top 5 on the overall worldwide charts. The incredible response to Barlow and Bear’s music spread to all corners of the globe with more than 220 million views and more than 10 million streams in less than 2 weeks.
The popular Netflix series Bridgerton, a period drama showcasing an unusual twist on women and their role in British society, is described as a Regency-era Gossip Girl, following a group of families as they navigate London’s marriage and social scene.
After season one’s release (the first episode aired on December 25, 2020), the series inspired a flurry of social media reactions and responses. Among them, 22-year-old singer-songwriter and TikTok creator Abigail Barlow, who shared a musical theatre take with a song from the perspective of Daphne Bridgerton, the series’ leading lady.
“When I binged Bridgerton, it was just immediate to me that it belonged on the stage,” said Barlow. “[Sir Henry Granville] says, ‘You have no idea what it’s like to be in a room with someone you can’t live without and feel like you’re oceans away from them,’ and I was like ‘That’s a song!’ So I went to my piano and made a TikTok, and it happened to resonate with everyone.”
Barlow reached out to Emily Bear, the 19-year-old pianist, composer, and singer who she met through a mutual friend. Emily had also binge-watched the entire show in a matter of days.
The two young women set out to answer the simple question: What if Bridgerton was a musical? They answered by composing and recording a concept album based on Bridgerton’s first season.
In January 2021, Barlow and Bear began collaborating to create and perform the songs on TikTok. They made 15 songs in 6 weeks, with lead vocals by Abigail Barlow and orchestration, production, and additional vocals by Emily Bear. Barlow and Bear built a solid following by live-streaming their writing sessions and giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at how their music is made. This also allowed them to receive immediate feedback from fans. They amassed 36 million likes, more than 2 million followers, and nearly 200 million views on the #bridgertonmusical hashtag.
“The duo has broken new ground by involving their audience in their process every step of the way via social media, and will be mirroring this direct-to-consumer distribution by self-releasing the album on all major streaming and downloading music services,” a press release described.
When Barlow and Bear officially released The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical album, it reached #1 on iTunes U.S. Pop Albums in just two hours!
And that’s what happens when Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, two impressive young women in their own right, join together to create music history. 🙂
As a result of their efforts, Barlow and Bear got their first-ever Grammy-nomination for best musical theater album! They’ve even been listed among 600 “disruptors” across 20 categories named to Forbes’ 10th annual 30 Under 30 List of those “who are reshaping industries and reimagining business around the world.”
Barlow and Bear were both homeschooled, which enabled them to develop their talents and surely contributed to helping them think outside the box.
Abigail Barlow grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Her doctor dad played piano, and soon she also learned how to play. Abigail enjoyed listening to music by everyone from Elton John and Amy Winehouse to Tori Kelly, Lorde, and Alessia Cara. Driven towards a career in the music industry as early as middle school, Abigail’s ambition drew the ire of jealous classmates which resulted in constant bullying, according to her website. So she opted for homeschooling, which enabled Abigail to kick off her career even sooner as she earned her high school diploma online. Abigail was always determined to pave her own path. Instead of just lip-syncing, she uploaded actual covers to Musical.ly and built a following of 600K-plus on the platform. An early adopter of YouNow, she attracted over 60K fans and garnered a nomination for “YouNower of the Year” in 2017. After relocating to Los Angeles, she put all her energy into carving out a distinct, diverse, and dynamic sound introduced by the single “Emotional.”
Emily Bear grew up in Rockford, Illinois. Her father was an orthopedic surgeon and her mother a music educator. Emily’s musical talents were apparent at an early age. Emily had her professional piano debut at age 5, and she made a series of appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show starting at age 6. Emily enrolled in high school for two years, graduating at age 15 in 2017. Before that, she had been homeschooled which allowed her the freedom to practice piano, write and arrange compositions, practice jazz improvisation, and even study film scoring. Homeschooling also enabled Emily to perform at far-flung concerts across the country and around the world. At age 10, Emily composed and orchestrated her first piece which premiered with the Performance Santa Fe Orchestra. Emily’s two favorite genres are classical music and jazz; in fact, she is recognized in both worlds, which is extremely rare. Now based in Los Angeles (where she was mentored by the legendary Quincy Jones), Emily is able to transition easily between a wide range of musical styles including jazz, classical, film music and pop – exhibiting an exceptional ability to adapt and master them, even mixing genres.