20 November 2016 - TONY BENNETT


G'day folks,

 Anthony Dominick Benedetto, known professionally as Tony Bennett, is an American singer of traditional pop standards, big band, show tunes, and jazz.

Tony Bennett is the last of the great crooners. Born into an Italian family in the ethnic enclave of Astoria, New York, the young Tony Benedetto got his first look at show business in the days of vaudeville, where his uncle was a tap dancer. Though his family endured the Great Depression in bitter poverty, his parents instilled in him a love for art, literature, and music.

Tony began his music career at a young age, working as a singing waiter in nearby Italian restaurants. Though he studied music formally at New York’s School of Industrial Art, hard times forced him to drop out and pursue paying work at 16. Even as he worked a series of menial day jobs, Benedetto continued to gig at night right up until being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944. Benedetto saw heavy combat as an infantryman in France and Germany toward the end of the war and even took part in the liberation of a Nazi Concentration Camp.

In spite of the nightmarish experience he endured on the battlefront, the G.I. Bill made it possible for Tony to study at the American Theatre Wing upon his discharge in 1946. Though Tony managed a few recordings without registering on the pop radar, he did come to the attention of the rising Broadway star Pearl Bailey. She invited Tony to open for her. He did so and, as fortune would have it, performed to a house that included a summarily impressed Bob Hope.

Hope dubbed the young singer Tony Bennett and invited him on tour. The following year, he signed to Columbia Records and launched into a decade of dramatic success. With hits like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Blue Velvet,” and “Rags to Riches,” Bennett established himself as a suave and sophisticated counterpoint to Sinatra’s streetwise tough guy.

The result was something of a cultural phenomenon. Before there was Elvis, before the Beatles, Tony Bennett’s appearances in the pre–rock and roll era were known to attract gaggles of shrieking female fans.

In the late ‘50s, Bennett also earned musical credibility beyond the Billboard landscape, recording with leading jazz masters like Herbie Mann, Art Blakey, and Chico Hamilton. This credibility may also account for his ability to remain relevant into the early ‘60s, even after the first surge of rock and roll. Indeed, 1962 would be a landmark year for Bennett, who headlined a star-studded bill at Carnegie Hall, performed at the opening broadcast of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, and released what remains his signature song, the breezy and perfectly evocative “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Tony Bennett enriched his legacy by successfully courting the MTV audience. Appearances on the Late Show With David Letterman, the Simpsons, and MTV Unplugged suddenly made Tony Bennett hip again.

It also garnered a resurgence of attention, acclaim, and recognition for the aging star. Indeed, the last 20 years have been something of a victory lap for Bennett, who continues not only to perform into his 80s but to collect all manner of accolades. He is the winner of an astonishing 17 Grammy Awards, two Emmys, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He also continues to surprise audiences by collaborating with major contemporary artists like K.D. Lang, Christina Aguilera, and Lady Gaga.


Clancy's comment: This man always had a silky voice.

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