Timeless voice tours Asia in Sept

( China Daily )

Updated: 2013-08-11

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 Timeless voice tours Asia in Sept

Italian-American singer Tony Bennett will be serenading his fans in China. Provided to China Daily

Timeless voice tours Asia in Sept

Although Tony Bennett has been famous in the United States for more than 60 years, the singer will only make his debut China tour in September.

He will perform in two concerts at the Mixing Room and Muse in the Mercedes-Benz Arena complex of Shanghai on Sept 19 and 20.

Bennett is an Italian-American singer with a career spanning more than half a century. With over 50 million records sold worldwide, he has received 17 Grammy Awards including Record of the Year in 1995 for his MTV Unplugged CD that introduced the singer to a new generation, and the Grammy Lifetime Award. His 2007 TV special, Tony Bennett: An American Classic, also won seven Emmy Awards.

"Tony Bennett is one of the greatest performers and legends of all time," says Michael Craig Enoch, general manager of the Mercedes-Benz Arena. "His artistry and accomplishments are recognized and applauded all over the world and we are honored to welcome him to Shanghai."

"I am so excited to have the opportunity to visit China for the first time and perform in Shanghai," Bennett told China Daily in an e-mail interview. "I have always kept to the premise never to insult the public by presenting to them poor quality music."

Bennett loves the popular standards from the 1920s-'40s, believing it was a golden age of songwriter with master craftsmen such as Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and the Gershwin brothers.

"So these are the songs that I perform in concert and I find that audiences all over the world just love them," he said.

Originally named Anthony Benedetto, Bennett was born in 1926, and served as a US army infantryman during World War II. He was performing in Greenwich Village New York when comedian Bob Hope discovered him, and gave him the stage name Tony Bennett.

Bennett has been an accomplished painter too, creating works under his original name.

His first big hit Because of You came out in 1951. His signature song I Left My Heart in San Francisco was recorded in 1962. The late Chinese pop idol Leslie Cheung used to sing Bennett's Boulevard of Broken Dreams and American punk rock band Green Day performed a rock adaptation of it too.

"I wanted to create a 'hit catalog', not just have 'hit songs' that would be big for a few weeks and then instantly forgotten," says Bennett.

Today's young artists are faced with lots of pressure, and sometimes the commercial aspects become more important that the music itself, Bennett says. "When I was starting out, there was a small theater circuit that allowed you to 'be bad before you got good.' It was a great training ground for artists such as myself.

"Now an artist has to hit it huge from the first and if the next single doesn't do well, they get dropped. There is no emphasis on building artists for a long career So my advice is always to make sure you are making music that you have a passion for creating."

Following Bennett's concerts in Shanghai, a newly compiled collection of 20 Tony Bennett recordings will be released in China. His new The Classics series will feature a bonus track of a duet with Chinese pop idol Wang Lee-hom.

Bennett recorded a duets album to celebrate his 80th birthday in 2006. His son Danny, also his manager, came up with the artists, such as Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Elton John and Barbra Streisand.

"The only thing that was important to me was that we record with each artist in the studio together, side by side - not put the duet together electronically.

"I think that is what makes a duet exciting when the two artists are looking each other in the eye and reacting together to each other's performance," Bennett said.

Duets: An American Classic became one of the best selling CDs of the year and Bennett's career. Duets II came out in 2011, featuring Bennett performing with a new group of celebrated artistes including Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble, Lady Gaga and John Mayer.

Bennett has only these two Shanghai concerts in China on his itinerary. His Asia tour will start on Sept 7 in Tokyo. Other stops in Asia include Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Manila, all before Shanghai.


(China Daily 08/11/2013 page15)

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