At almost 90 years old, Tony Bennett is the epitome of a renaissance man as well as one of America’s musical treasures. Born in 1926 in Astoria, Queens, New York, Bennett grew up with two siblings, living in poverty during the Great Depression. Tragedy struck Tony Bennett early: at the age of 10, he lost his father, who introduced him to literature and art and taught him to have compassion for those around him. During that same year, Bennett had his first introduction to the stage; singing to commemorate the opening of the Triborough Bridge (now known as RFK Triborough Bridge). Always keeping his family in his mind, Tony Bennett dropped out of school at the age of 16 and worked several jobs to help support them; a singing waiter at local Italian eateries, caricaturist, and copy boy and runner to name a few. Like many of the artists during that time, Bennett was also an enlisted man: he fought on the front lines during the Battle of the Bulge during World War II
Upon returning from the war, Tony Bennett started his recording career, with stiff competition from fellow crooner Frank Sinatra and others. It was at this time when he started to develop his distinctive style, which was so unique that it placed him out above the rest. In 1962, his now iconic tune, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” first hit the charts. 1965 became a pivotal year for Tony Bennett. With the British Invasion, the public started favoring rock music over the pop, standards, and jazz music that had been Bennett’s forte. He released a few singles, each celebrating a minor success. During this time, the public would get a first glance into Tony Bennett’s humanitarian side: he participated in the Selma to Montgomery Marches with Martin Luther King.
As the time passed and rock became more of a mainstay in households, Tony Bennett felt the pressure to perform some of these more contemporary songs. The results were abysmal at best. Tony’s heart just wasn’t in it. Eventually, Tony Bennett did return to his classic stylings but didn’t really get the accolades he deserved until the mid to late 1990s, where he reintroduced himself to a new audience, which was later praised as a move that demolished the generation gap. This is when he decided to pair up with some of the more contemporary artists to perform his music, in his style and the results were pure magic. In another brilliant move, he not only used his amazing talent in a musical vein, he also crossed the media bridge, performing on television, especially on television shows geared towards the younger demographic, including recording an MTV Unplugged album, which took the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1994.
Tony Bennett Meeting Millennials and the Cheek to Cheek Tour 2015
Just when you think he’s getting ready to retire, Tony Bennett continues pulling rabbits out of his proverbial hat, creating show after memorable show. Unlike many people, Bennett celebrated his 80th birthday for an entire year, doing what he did best; perform. He released another critically acclaimed album, Duets: An American Collection and their accompanying tours introduced him to another generation: the Millennials. One Millennial in particular, Lady Gaga, performed with Tony Bennett on multiple occasions, which like him has branched her star power over the older generations. The two of them are simply magic together and their “Cheek to Cheek Tour” has been received by both critics and the public as some of the best performances of each artist’s careers. Unlike many of Lady Gaga’s venues, this tour caters to a more intimate setting and has several musical festivals on its billing. Some of the upcoming show dates include stops at Caberet du Casino in Montreal, Lindenwood's J Scheidegger Center for the Arts in St. Charles, Missouri, and Lied Center For Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska.