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Tony Bennett is an American jazz vocalist, best known for performing standards and his signature song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."
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Moreover, music marketing was so focused on young listeners that it was squeezing adults who bought Bennett's albums out of the record stores.
Bennett has weathered such troubles and completely revitalized his career. He credits his son Danny, who is now his manager, with making many key decisions. Danny put Bennett on television, on the animated series The Simpsons, on talk shows with David Letterman and Jay Leno, and on MTV Unplugged. The last appearance earned the singer a flock of young fans. He now has a recording contract with Columbia that allows him to simply turn in his finished record, with no corporate input on content. Among Bennett's later recordings are the Grammy-winning MTV Unplugged; a series of tribute albums, Bennett/Berlin (Irving Berlin), Perfectly Frank (as in Sinatra), Tony Bennett on Holiday (Billie Holiday) and Here's to the Ladies (miscellaneous female singers); and the children's album The Playground. These recordings demonstrate that Bennett still has plenty of ideas about the music he wants to sing, and that he is in fine form. With a half-century of professional singing under his belt, Bennett credits learning bel canto technique with preserving his voice; he told Billboard, "It teaches you how to breathe properly and how to sing so that you don't push and you don't destroy your voice."
During the 1990s Bennett published two books that gave fans an inside look into his personal life and career. Tony Bennett: What My Heart Has Seen(1996) is a coffee-table book of his paintings, exhibiting a very serious pastime for a man who once aspired to be a painter. His autobiography The Good Life(1998) details his childhood, singing career, personal life and friendships. Signing his name "Anthony Benedetto," he began showing his paintings in 1977 and has since sold his work for as much as $40,000 a canvas. What My Heart Has Seen includes a number of portraits of famous people, as well as still-lifes, landscapes, and cityscapes that are dominated by scenes of New York and San Francisco.
To mark his 80th birthday in 2006, he released Tony Bennett: Duets - An American Classic, recorded with a collection of stars including Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Elvis Costello, Bono and Sting. The project proved to be such a success that he did another celebratory album in 201l for his 85th birthday.
Bennett released Duets II in the fall of 2011, and his work with Lady Gaga on "The Lady Is a Tramp" proved to be one of its highlights. The album also featured another distinctive track—the late Amy Winehouse's final recording. She and Bennett sang together on "Body and Soul." Their collaboration won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group in 2012. That same night, Bennett also took home an award for "Who Can I Turn To?" his duet with Queen Latifah.
Also in 2012, his fans got an inside look at the recording of Duets II as well as the life of the legendary singer, in the documentary The Zen of Bennett. The project is the brainchild of Bennett's son Danny, who served as its producer.
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Jazz vocalists have made immeasurable contributions to the American songbook. Not only was Louis Armstrong renowned for his innovations as a trumpet soloist, but he also had a distinctive, gravelly voice that incorporated swing and humor. A host of other jazz singers enjoyed great popularity in the mid-20th century, including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne and Nina Simone. Several established careers in film and television as well. Contemporary artists like Harry Connick Jr. and Diana Krall continue to carry the musical baton.
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