An Evening with Tony Bennett will be at Andrew Jackson Hall in Nashville, TN
No one in popular American music has recorded for so long and at such a high level of excellence than Tony Bennett. The essence of his longevity and high artistic achievement was imbued in him in his loving childhood home in the Astoria section of Queens where he was born on August 3, 1926. His father died when Tony was 10 and his mother, Anna, raised Tony and his older brother and sister, John and Mary, in a home surrounded by loving relatives who were Tony's first fans filling him with encouragement and optimism. He attended the High School of Industrial Arts in Manhattan, where he continued nurturing his two passions, singing and painting. From the radio he developed a love of music hearing Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, and James Durante.
As a teenager Tony sang while waiting on tables and then enlisted in the Army during World War II and while in Europe he performed with military bands. He later had vocal studies at the American Theatre Wing School. The first time Bennett sang in a nightclub was in 1946 when he sat in with trombonist Tyree Glenn at the Shangri-La in Astoria. Bennett's big break came in 1949 when comedian Bob Hope noticed him working with Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village in New York City. As Bennett recalls, "Bob Hope came down to check out my act. He liked my singing so much that after the show he came back to see me in my dressing room and said, 'Come on kid, you're going to come to the Paramount and sing with me.' But first he told me he didn't care for my stage name (Joe Bari) and asked me what my real name was. I told him, 'My name is Anthony Dominick Benedetto' and he said, 'We'll call you Tony Bennett.' And that's how it happened. A new Americanized name -- the start of a wonderful career and a glorious adventure that has continued for over 60 years."
With millions of records sold world-wide and platinum and gold albums to his credit, Bennett has received seventeen Grammy Awards -- including a 1995 Grammy for Record of the Year for his "MTV Unplugged" CD which introduced this American master to a whole new generation -- and the Grammy Lifetime Award. His initial successes came via a string of Columbia singles in the early 1950's, including 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," recorded 50 years ago this coming January 2012. This song garnered him two Grammy Awards.
Tony Bennett is one of a handful of artists to have new albums charting in the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, and now in the first two decades of the 21st century. He has introduced a multitude of songs into the Great American Songbook that have since become standards for pop music. He has toured the world to sold out audiences with rave reviews whenever he performs. Bennett re-signed with Columbia Records in 1986 and released the critically acclaimed The Art of Excellence. Since his 1991 show-stopping performance at the Grammy Awards of "When Do The Bells Ring For Me," from his Astoria album, he has received a string of Grammy Awards for releases including Stepping Out, Perfectly Frank and MTV Unplugged.
In 2006, the year of his 80th birthday, his Duets: An American Classic was released. The album-which included performances with Paul McCartney, Elton John, Barbra Streisand, Bono and others-won three Grammy Awards and went on to be one of the best-selling CDs of the year and Tony's career. In celebration of his 85th birthday in 2011 the release of Bennett's highly anticipated, Duets II, featured Tony performing with a new roster of celebrated artists including, Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble, Aretha Franklin, Josh Groban, Lady Gaga, John Mayer, and many others. Duets II debuted at #1 on the Billboard Album charts, making Tony the only artist at the age of 85 to achieve this in the history of recorded music. Bennett won two Grammys for Duets II in the 2012 Grammy ceremony and this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the recording and release of his signature song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." This spring, a documentary entitled, THE ZEN OF BENNETT, which was created and conceived by Danny Bennett, Tony's son and manager, was premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2012. Bennett's latest CD, Bennett & Brubeck: The White House Session, Live 1962, features a live White House sponsored concert performance by these two jazz giants which was recorded and then only recently discovered over 50 years later . Bennett also authored his fourth book, the New York Times bestseller, LIFE IS A GIFT, which highlights his personal philosophies learned throughout his life and career.
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