Tony Bennett – popular swing singer
Tony Bennett is an American popular singer. He is a performer of swing and pop music with elements of jazz, mainly from the repertoire of Great American Songbook. Bennett joined the Italian-American bel canto tradition represented by such singers as Frank Sinatra and Vic Damone. In fact, Sinatra often publicly referred to Bennett as his favorite singer. Having achieved enormous popularity in the early 1950s, Bennett began to lose audience with the advent of rock music. At the end of the 1980s and 1990s, Bennett gradually caught up popularity. In the 1990s and 2000s he received numerous Grammy awards for traditional pop music.
Anthony Dominick Benedetto (his real name) was born on August 3, 1926 in New York City. His father was a grocer, who emigrated from Podàrgoni (rural areas of the South-eastern part of the Italian city Reggio Calabria), and his mother was a seamstress. There were three children in the family. His father died when Anthony was 10 years old. Young Benedetto was fond of listening to Eddie Cantor, Judy Garland and Bing Crosby, as well as jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden and Joe Venturi.
10-year-old boy performed at the Triborough Bridge opening ceremony. Cartoons and drawing were his passion at an early age. He attended High School of Industrial Art where he studied painting and music, but left it at the age of 16 to support his family. He worked in the Associated Press and performed in Paramus, night club of New Jersey.
In November 1944 Benedetto was drafted into the US Army. He served first in France and then in Germany. In March 1945, Bennett was on the front line, which later described as a “front row seat in hell.”
After the war, Tony was left in Germany and performed with the army groups, using the alias Joe Bari, which he began to use even before the war.
In 1946 he returned to the United States and attended the American Theatre Wing.
The single Because of You (1951) became his first success and reached the top of the pop charts in Billboard magazine. In the same year, Bennett again reached the first line of the pop charts with the single Cold, Cold Heart.
His song Blue Velvet attracted crowds of teenage fans and in 1954 his single Stranger in Paradise topped Billboard charts.
In the 50s rock and roll became popular and young singers like Bennett were knocked out of the charts.
In 1963, Tony was awarded Grammy for his song I Left My Heart in San Francisco.
At the end of the 1970s when Bennett was ready to give up music American public became nostalgic for the standards of the Great American Songbook. In 1992 and 1993 Bennett released two tribute albums. Both earned him Grammy statuette.
In 1994 his son Danny suggested to make an unusual step – record a live concert on the youth channel MTV. So a live album MTV Unplugged appeared and brought Bennett another Grammy. In subsequent years, Bennett regularly recorded new discs, which brought him Grammy.
In 2011, Tony Bennett became the oldest singer in history to top (with the album Duets II) US Billboard 200.
In 2014, Bennett released a collaborative album with Lady Gaga.
Bennett is also an artist. His work has been exhibited widely, and he claims David Hockney as a major influence. His pictures are in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.