Tony Bennett (August 13, 1926 — July 21, 2023) was a world-famous jazz and pop music vocalist. Born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in Astoria, New York, Bennett studied music and painting at the High School of Industrial Arts. A talented visual artist, his paintings would later be exhibited under his real name in New York City, Paris and London.

Originally possessing a tenor voice that would deepen over the years, Bennett sang during his service with the US Army's entertainment unit toward the end of World War II. Upon his discharge from the service, he worked in night clubs before joining a Pearl Bailey revue in Greenwich Village as singer and master of ceremonies under the name Joe Bari. He was spotted there by Bob Hope, who engaged him to sing in his Paramount show. He changed his stage name to Tony Bennett shortly thereafter.

In 1950 he successfully auditioned for Columbia Records producer Mitch Miller, singing "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams", and a year later topped the US chart with "Because Of You" and "Cold, Cold Heart". Other 50s hits, mostly backed by the Percy Faith Orchestra, included "Rags To Riches", "Just In Time", "Stranger In Paradise" (from Kismet), "There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight", "Cinnamon Sinner", "Can You Find It In Your Heart" and "In The Middle Of An Island".

In 1958 his album Basie Swings-Bennett Sings was a precursor to later jazz-based work. That same year, "Firefly" - a song by the new songwriting team of Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh - was Bennett's last US Top 40 entry until 1962, when he made a major comeback with a song penned in 1954 entitled "I Left My Heart In San Francisco". A double-album recording of his sell-out Carnegie Hall concert that year won a Grammy Award. This period saw a strengthened association with his long-time pianist/arranger Ralph Sharon and frequently featured cornet soloist Bobby Hackett.

Often quoted as being unable to find suitable new material, Bennett nevertheless made the 1960s singles charts with contemporary songs such as "I Wanna Be Around", "The Good Life", "Who Can I Turn To" and "If I Ruled The World". Even so, the future lay with concerts and his prolific album output, which included US Top 40 albums such as I Wanna Be Around, The Many Moods Of Tony, The Movie Song Album, and four albums with Canadian composer/conductor Robert Farnon.

In the 1970s Bennett left Columbia Records and recorded for various labels including his own, making albums with jazz musicians Ruby Braff and Bill Evans. His return to Columbia in the mid-1980s produced The Art Of Excellence, which included a duet with Ray Charles, and Bennett/Berlin, a celebration of America's premier songwriter, on which he was accompanied by the Ralph Sharon Trio. He continued to gain excellent reviews at venues such as the Desert Inn, Las Vegas, and in 1991 celebrated forty years in the business with a concert at London's Prince Edward Theatre.

In 1993 and 1994 he was awarded Grammys for "Best Traditional Pop Performance" for his albums Perfectly Frank and Steppin' Out. Around the same time, Bennett was "discovered" by younger audiences following his appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman, benefit shows hosted by "alternative rock" radio stations, and his Unplugged session on the cable television channel MTV. The latter teamed him with contemporary artists k.d. lang and Elvis Costello.

Bennett's MTV Unplugged album spent thirty-five weeks at the top of the US jazz chart, and earned him two more Grammys and a World Music Award in 1995. He received a second World Music Award for his lifelong contribution to the music industry. Bennett's star continued to shine with Here's To The Ladies, a formidable collection of classic songs with particularly impressive versions of "God Bless The Child" and "I Got Rhythm". He expanded his Billie Holiday catalogue with the excellent Tony Bennett On Holiday: A Tribute To Billie Holiday.

The 1990s proved to be Bennett's most critically acclaimed decade, especially with his Duke Ellington tribute album. His voice had ripened with age and he appeared hip to a much wider and younger audience. Musical collaborations continued over the following two decades, including albums and performances with Lady Gaga, Billy Joel, Diana Krall, and others. He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. Though being diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2016, he continued to work until the COVID-19 pandemic. He announced his retirement from concerts at the age of 95 in 2021, and died at his home in New York City two years later. He was interred alongside his parents at Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York.

Source information: muze/

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