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Tony Bennett, Diana Krall: Bio

Tony Bennett's life and philosophy is the embodiment of the Great American Story. Having celebrated his 90th birthday on August 3rd 2016, his career as the pre-eminent singer of the 20th and 21st centuries is unprecedented. He continues to be embraced and loved by audiences of all generations.

Through his dedication to excellence and his insistence on quality, he has become the keeper of the flame by extolling the virtues and values represented by the Great American Songbook. Tony Bennett has been on the front lines of every major issue impacting the cornerstones of this country's modern history. He has performed for eleven U.S. Presidents, is a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and participated in the liberation of a concentration camp, and marched side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma to support civil rights. Throughout his life, Tony Bennett has been a dedicated pacifist and proactive humanitarian selflessly supporting many causes whose goals benefit the lives of millions. His love for his country has earned him the distinction of national treasure and the United Nations has named him a Citizen of the World as one of their foremost ambassadors.

Through his music, Tony Bennett has connected in unprecedented fashion with all generations of audiences. His commitment to humanitarian ideals has bridged our differences by highlighting what we have in common as citizens of the planet. He has fought for the hard issues when others have turned a blind eye and has remained true to the authenticity and creativity of his musical vision. Tony has achieved the Great American Dream but has never forgotten his own roots and is constantly working toward ensuring that others can achieve their dreams as well. His life story is compelling in the lessons and values that it teaches: dedication, commitment, courage, and compassion.

No one in popular American music has recorded for so long and at such a high level of excellence than Tony Bennett. In the last ten years alone he has sold ten million records. 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 nineteen 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 1950s, 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," which garnered him two Grammy Awards.

Tony Bennett is one of a handful of artists to have new albums charting in the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, 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 the new millennium, Bennett's artistry and popularity was higher than ever. 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. Bennett's first Duets album also inspired the Rob Marshall-directed television special Tony Bennett: An American Classic, which won seven Emmys making it the most honored program at the 2007 Emmy Awards. 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, the late Amy Winehouse (her last recording was their duet of "Body and Soul"), Michael Bublé, 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 that year marked the 50th Anniversary of the recording and release of his signature song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." 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. At the end of 2012, 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. Tony's collaborative jazz album with Lady Gaga, released in 2014, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek To Cheek, debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts, making Bennett, at the age of 88, the oldest artist to have a #1 album-breaking his own previously established historical record. "Cheek To Cheek" won a Grammy in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal category. Bennett's 2015 release, The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern won a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal album.

On August 3rd 2016, Tony Bennett celebrated his 90th birthday which was marked by the lighting of the Empire State Building in honor of his musical legacy along with a star-studded celebration at the famed Rainbow Room. Later that year NBC aired a two-hour prime time special, Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best is Yet to Come, which featured performances by Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Michael Bublé, and many more. Columbia Records released a companion CD to the television special, and Tony's fifth book was published, Just Getting Started.

Tony Bennett became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2005, was named an NEA Jazz Master in January of 2006, a Citizen of the World award from the United Nations, and a Billboard Magazine Century Award in honor of his outstanding contributions to music. In November 2017, the Library of Congress will present Tony with The Gershwin Prize, marking the first time the honor has been bestowed upon an "interpretive singer" as, to that date, it had only been given to composers.

Tony Bennett is a dedicated painter whose interest in art began as a child. He continues to paint every day, even as he tours internationally. He has exhibited his work in galleries around the world. The United Nations has commissioned him for two paintings, including one for their 50th anniversary. His original painting, "Homage to Hockney," is on permanent display at the Butler Institute of American Art, and the landmark National Arts Club in New York is home to Tony's painting "Boy on Sailboat, Sydney Bay." Three of his paintings are part of the Smithsonian Museums permanent collections, including his portrait of his friend Duke Ellington that became part of the National Portrait Gallery's collection in 2009.

Throughout his career, Tony Bennett has always put his heart and time into humanitarian concerns. He has raised millions of dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, which established a research fund in his name. His original paintings each year grace the cover of the American Cancer Society's annual holiday greeting card, proceeds from which are earmarked for cancer research. He is active in environmental concerns and social justice. He marched with Dr. King in the historical Selma-to-Montgomery Civil Rights movement, and the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta bestowed upon him their Salute to Greatness Award for his efforts in fighting racial discrimination.

In 1999, Tony Bennett and his wife, Susan Benedetto, a former public-school teacher, founded Exploring the Arts (ETA) to strengthen the role of the arts in public high school education. ETA connects private funders, individual artists, and cultural institutions to Partner Schools to achieve greater equality of resources and opportunity for youth of all means and backgrounds. ETA programs are designed to help school principals and teachers sustain the arts in the face of budget cuts and better leverage the arts to strengthen student learning and engagement. ETA's first endeavor was the establishment of Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), a public high school founded in 2001 by Tony and Susan in partnership with the NYC Department of Education. FSSA is housed in a newly constructed building in Tony's hometown of Astoria, Queens. Its state-of-the-art facilities include visual-art studios and a gallery, black-box theatres and a stagecraft workshop, dance studios, choral and orchestral classrooms, an 800-seat concert hall, a multi-media technology lab, and a rooftop performance garden. All students major in Dance, Theatre, Film, Fine Art, Vocal or Instrumental Music. FSSA also offers a rigorous academic curriculum and holds one of the highest graduation and college enrollment rates for NYC public high schools. ETA continued beyond its commitment to FSSA to expand their support and, to date, ETA currently partners with 37 public high schools-in all five boroughs of New York City and Los Angeles with expansion plans to serve more schools underway. (To learn more about Exploring the Arts visit exploringthearts.org.)

Today Tony Bennett's artistry and accomplishments are applauded here at home and all over the world from people from 12- to 90-years old. On the occasion of Tony Bennett's 85th birthday, former President Bill Clinton observed, "Now in his seventh decade of singing, Tony Bennett has somehow kept his unique voice, with its beauty and range, its strength and style, and still in perfect pitch. But as talented as he is, Tony's most impressive quality is his giving spirit!"

For more about Tony Bennett and to get a glimpse into the mind of his creative process take a look at the documentary film Zen of Bennett at zenofbennett.com.

 

With her pre-bop piano style and cool but sensual singing, Diana Krall took the jazz world by storm in the late '90s. By the turn of the century she was firmly established as one of the biggest sellers in jazz. Her 1996 album, All for You, was a Nat King Cole tribute that showed the singer/pianist's roots, and she had great success in that traditional-minded mode before branching out into other styles in the 2010s.

Krall got her musical education when she was growing up in Nanaimo, British Columbia, from the classical piano lessons she began at age four and in her high school jazz band, but mostly from her father, a stride piano player with an extensive record collection. "I think Dad has every recording Fats Waller ever made," she said, "and I tried to learn them all."

Only Trust Your HeartKrall attended the Berklee College of Music on a music scholarship in the early '80s and then moved to Los Angeles, where she lived for three years before moving to Toronto. By 1990, she was based in New York, performing with a trio and singing. After releasing her first album on Justin Time Records, Krall was signed to GRP for her second, Only Trust Your Heart, and transferred to its Impulse! division for her third, the Nat King Cole Trio tribute album called All for You. Love Scenes followed in 1997, and in late 1998, she issued the seasonal Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

When I Look in Your EyesWhen I Look in Your Eyes followed in 1999. Whatever renown Krall had earned over the years for her work exploded with this album, which became an international best-seller and earned her a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. It was also the first jazz album to be nominated for Album of the Year in 25 years. Krall's crossover success followed her as she performed at Lilith Fair the following year, and her songs cropped up everywhere, from episodes of Sex in the City to films like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In 2001 she released The Look of Love, featuring charts by legendary arranger Claus Ogerman, best known for working with bossa nova innovator Antonio Carlos Jobim in the '60s. The album topped the Billboard charts and went quintuple platinum in Canada, the first by a Canadian jazz artist to do so. The Look of Love also helped Krall win three Junos in 2002, taking home awards for Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best Vocal Jazz Album of the Year.

The Girl in the Other Room In 2003, Krall married iconic British rock musician Elvis Costello. A year later, she issued The Girl in the Other Room. Covering a few standards, this album also included original material -- some co-written by Costello -- for the first time in her career. Returning to the large ensemble standards approach of her previous album, Krall released From This Moment On in 2006. She gave birth to twin sons in December of that year. In 2009, she teamed once again with The Look of Love arranger Ogerman for the bossa nova-themed Quiet Nights; the album performed well, debuting at number three on the Billboard Top 200. Krall returned three years later with Glad Rag Doll, a collection of early jazz and ragtime tunes from the '20s and '30s produced by T-Bone Burnett. Once again she attempted something new with the February 2015 release of Wallflower, an album featuring a selection of pop songs from the '60s onward by the likes of Bob Dylan, Elton John, Gilbert O'Sullivan, and the Eagles, all of whom had inspired her in her childhood. Krall returned to the Great American Songbook in 2017 with Turn Up the Quiet, an album recorded with three different jazz ensembles.

1 'S Wonderful  
2 My One And Only  
3 But Not For Me  
4 Nice Work If You Can Get It  
5 Love Is Here To Stay  
6 I Got Rhythm  
7 Somebody Loves Me  
8 Do It Again  
9 I've Got A Crush On You  
10 Fascinating Rhythm
11 They Can't Take That Away From Me  
12 Who Cares?  
Love Is Here To Stay - Trailer
Tony Bennett, Diana Krall - Fascinating Rhythm
Tony Bennett, Diana Krall - Love Is Here To Stay
'S Wonderful' on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Tony Bennett and Diana Krall celebrate their shared love of the music of George and Ira Gershwin on their new collaborative album, LOVE IS HERE TO STAY, set for a September 14th release on Verve Records/Columbia Records.  Tony Bennett, who celebrates his 92nd birthday today, has been friends with Diana Krall for over 20 years. The two toured together in 2000 and recorded duets for two of Bennett's albums ("Duets" and "Playin' With My Friends"), but this marks their first full album project together.  LOVE IS HERE TO STAY is out just in time for the 120th Anniversary of George Gershwin's birthday which takes place on September 26th.  Both multi-Grammy winning and platinum-selling artists, Bennett is the only artist at the ages of 85 and 88, respectively, to have an album debut at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and Krall is the only jazz artist to have eight albums debut at #1 on Billboard's Jazz Albums chart.  Danny Bennett, President and CEO of Verve Label Group commented, "When Tony Bennett and Diana Krall sing the music of the Gershwins, it's truly the consummate artistic pairing of singers and songwriting.  It's one of those recordings that when you listen to it, you recognize instantly that it had to happen - it was just a matter of getting these two extraordinary performers into a studio and putting the Gershwin songbook in front of them."

Crossover Media Projects with: Tony Bennett, Diana Krall