Barbra Streisand on Marriage, Music and Motherhood
09/19/2014 AT 09:10 AM EDT
Sitting in a New York hotel room with her doggy Sammie waiting patiently nearby, she tells a story about an evening with Liza Minnelli at fashion designer Donna Karan's home.
"Liza got up in the middle of the room to sing, and I thought, 'How the hell does she do that?'" Streisand, 72, remembers.
"I was never that type of person – I don't even sing at home! I can't sing when I can see people. I get spooked."
This from a woman who is the only artist to have five No. 1 albums in five decades consecutively and has released her 34th studio album, Partners.
"[Singing]'s not about performing. I like it when it's just me and my music," she explains. "I don't have to be charming or funny."
Privately she is very much both.
After country star Blake Shelton – one of the 12 men duetting with Streisand on her new album – recorded his part of their song, she sent him a gift.
"She couldn't have been more humble or appreciative," Shelton says.
"She sent me a piece of crystal that was like, 'Thank you, Love Barbra.' I pushed all my awards away [at home] and put that in the middle."
Despite a passing appreciation for Miley Cyrus – "Her look is kind of wonderful," she says – Streisand is content with her un-21st-century interests.
"I have Twitter, but I don't know how to do it. I think I'm probably from another time," says Streisand.