Elaine Barry was a soprano whose career, especially notable in the field of new music, was twice interrupted by serious illness. Born Elaine Hooker in London, she was educated at Wimborne school, Dorset, where she took part in many musical and dramatic performances. She went on to the Royal College of Music (RCM), London, where she studied voice with Ruth Packer and piano with Ian Lake, and was inspired by the conductor and coach James Lockhart, a lifelong friend. After the RCM she took a traditional path for young singers, joining the Glyndebourne Festival chorus, and then Welsh National Opera (WNO) chorus, performing the roles of Barbarina with WNO and Servilia in La Clemenza di Tito at the 1968 Wexford festival. But rather than continuing in opera, she became a consort singer and a concert soloist.