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Interview:
Even at 90, the best is yet to come for Tony Bennett
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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When Tony Bennett released his first singles in 1956, he had no idea he'd still be singing 60 years later -- at the ripe and, in his case, not-so-old age of 90.

"I always dreamed that I would like to do that, because I love entertaining people and making them feel good and have them walk out feeling very entertained," Bennett, who turned 90 on Aug. 3, says by phone from his home in New York. "And I just love the fact that in an era where everything's based on youth, there's a whole audience of the young and the middle-aged and the old that like me.

"So I really feel so god about the fact that I communicate with everybody. I've never been more popular. Here I am 90 years old and my voice is in top shape and people still want to hear me sing, so I'm very content."

Bennett

So what's the key to that enduring success -- which includes 19 Grammy Awards and being named a Kennedy Center Honoree and an NEA Jazz Master? "Well, I've had great training," Bennett explains. "I had good teachers at the American Theatre Wing when I came out of the service after the Second World War. They told me how to survive and taught me how to take care of myself and to be myself and try not to imitate any other singers. They always insisted I jsut be myself, and I've maintained that throughout the years."

Bennett celebrated his 90th with friends and family at the Rainbow Room in New York's Radio City Music hall, while a TV special, "Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet To Come," airs Dec. 20 on NBC with guests including Billy Joel, Elton John, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. The Fairmont Hotel, made famous in Bennett's hit "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," is erecting a statue of the singer on its property, and Bennett has teamed with NPR host Scott Simons on a new book, "Just Getting Started," which publishes Nov. 15 and features his remembrances about other artists and notable figures he's encountered over the years, from Frank Sinatra to Bob Hope to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Also on the docket is another album with Lady Gaga, a sequel to their Grammy Award-winning 2014 standards set "Cheek To Cheek" that brought her Little Monsters into the Bennett fold.

"She's busy right now, but at the beginning of next year we'll start doing an album," Bennett promises. "The first one went way over a million, and it's still selling. There'll be just wonderful songs that she and I both like."

Tony Bennett

8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12.

The Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

Tickets are $55-$95.

Call 313-471-6611 or visit olympiaentertainment.com.

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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