Born in the Bronx, New York, they were first known as The Bagelman Sisters. They made a name for themselves as Yiddish jazz singers. When their act became more popular, they changed their stage name to The Barry Sisters. They started performing in the New York Catskills resort hotels. They eventually toured with Mickey Katz. From 1937 until the mid 1950s they performed on the New York Radio Show "Yiddish Melodies in Swing", where they would sing jazz recordings in the Yiddish language. Their recordings included popular tunes, such as "Rain Drops Keep Falling on My Head" translated into Yiddish (Trop'ns Fin Regen Oif Mein Kop).
During the height of their popularity, they even made appearances on the Ed Sullivan and Jack Paar shows and were one of the few American acts to tour the Soviet Union in 1959.
The Barry Sisters also recorded with other noted Jewish singers such as Barbra Streisand and Moishe Oysher.
The Barry Sisters are thought to be the inspiration for the Saturday Night Live skit, "The Sweeney Sisters," in which Jan Hooks and Nora Dunn portrayed a sister cabaret act. Mark Shaiman did the musical arrangements for those sketches.
Merna Barry was born in 1925 and died in 1976. Claire Barry, born in 1923, continues to sing and perform, and was featured in the 2002 NPR radio show, "The Yiddish Radio Project."
The duo's 11th and final album, "My Way," was issued in 1973.
1961 Side By Side
1961 We Belong Together
1963 In Israel Recorded Live
1964 Fiddler On The Roof
1966 Something Spanish
1970 At home
1973 Our Way
1977 Single Songs
1994 Tum Balalaika
2001 Their Greatest Yiddish Hits / 2 CD
2002 All Gold Of The World