Tony Bennett turns 92 in August, but the elder statesman of the Great American Songbook isn’t sitting around reminiscing about the past. The recipient of 19 Grammy Awards is still recording and performing.
Bennett recently answered a few questions.
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What elements make a song right for Tony Bennett?
My premise has always been to create a hit catalog and not just go after hit records, which often can be novelty songs that hit it big for a few weeks and then are forgotten. So, I’m always looking for a song that has a timeless quality and that I can communicate effectively. I have to say to myself, “I understand what the composer is saying here and I know I can convey that to an audience.” And if that’s the case, then I know it’s a good song to sing.
You’ve done duets with a variety of artists. What current singers would you like to work with?
Well, I still love working with Lady Gaga. We get along so well and she just keeps getting better and better. I met Beyoncé backstage at the Grammys and she said she would like to do something together one day so I hope that happens as she completely understands how to perform for an audience. She may have 30 dancers on the stage with her but she grabs your full attention.
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When can fans expect a new album?
We have a few new projects in the works but it’s a bit too early for me to say anything just yet but soon we will announce.
What is some basic industry advice you received that still applies to current artists trying to create lasting careers?
The first piece of advice I got was from Pearl Bailey, who along with Bob Hope gave me one of my first big breaks in the business. Pearlie Mae said to me, “Tony, I can start you out but it’s going to take you 10 years just to know how to walk on stage correctly.” And what she was really saying is, artists have to develop and find their own way. If they get caught up too much in trends or what a producer or record label is telling them to do then they move away from their own authenticity. Performers like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé have found themselves and keep their own vision of what kind of artists they want to be — and that’s the key to longevity.
With worldwide record sales in the millions, and dozens of platinum and gold albums to his credit, Tony Bennett is a musician who touches the hearts and souls of audiences with his legendary vocals and charming stage presence.
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His long list of achievements, spanning over 60 years, includes 19 Grammy Awards, including the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
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His initial successes in the early 1950's included such chart-toppers as "Because of You," "Rags to Riches," and a remake of Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart." He had 24 songs in the Top 40, including: "I Wanna Be Around," "The Good Life," "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)?" and his signature song, "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," which garnered him the first two of his Grammy Awards.