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Tony Bennett coming to York
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Tony Bennett coming to York

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Tony Bennett is a music icon. So naturally, he’s going to surround himself with vocal powerhouses. Having already collaborated with Lady Gaga on 2014’s Cheek to Cheek, the 90-year-old crooner has expressed interest in working with Beyoncé on his next musical venture. “I like Beyoncé so I’d like to do something with her,” Bennett tells People. Albeit not for a little while, the legendary singer also insists that he’ll continue to record with the Mother Monster. Wochit

Tony Bennett has left his heart in San Francisco, sung with Lady Gaga and released a pair of generation-spanning albums of duets with singers from Paul McCartney to Josh Groban.

On May 5, Bennett will perform for a sold-out crowd in York at the renamed Appell Center for the Performing Arts. It will be his second appearance there. Bennett performed in 1989 at the Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center.

And along the way, the kid from Astoria, Queens, who was born Anthony Benedetto, has won 19 Grammy Awards, including a lifetime Grammy celebrating a career that started in 1949 as part of singer Pearl Bailey’s revue.

Comedian Bob Hope caught one of the shows at the Village Inn and offered Bennett a place in Hope’s show at the Paramount Theater. He also suggested a new stage name for the young singer, Tony Bennett.

FlipSide caught up with the famed singer by email.

More:Music legend Tony Bennett to perform in York

Q: Tony, do you have a favorite songwriter or songwriters? Whose music you like to sing?

A: I gravitate to the golden age of songwriting from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, where you had master songwriters such as the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, and on and on all crafting the best popular music that in the end became the Great American Songbook. When I started out my premise was not to just have a hit record but to create a “hit catalog,” and that meant a lot of heated conversations with the record label which would push me to record novelty songs that would hit it big for three weeks and then be forgotten. In the end I prevailed and these songs are America’s classical music, and everywhere I tour outside the U.S. they know this music.

Q: Through your duets with Lady Gaga, you’ve introduced yourself to a new generation of fans. It seems like you two have a real chemistry on stage. How do you like performing together?

A: I just love her — she is a true artist of the highest sense and she comes completely prepared and works out every detail whenever she does anything. And yet, on the other side of that, she can be completely spontaneous on stage and change things around, which is rare. She is the complete package and I know her career will be a very long and successful one.

More:The Hoovers swept up in Strand’s modern history

Q: Can the audience in York expect you to sing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”?

A: I often get asked what is my favorite song and I always point to my signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” as it allowed me to become international, and I get commissioned all over the world just to perform that song. I have a magnificent jazz quartet that tours with me so when you work with jazz musicians you are able to keep things very spontaneous and switch around the set list or change the pacing right on stage. It keeps every performance  different and in the moment.

Q: Do you still paint? 

A: Yes, I paint every day, whether at home in New York City or on the road, and I thrilled that the Paley Center for Media in Manhattan is going to open an exhibition of my paintings starting on May 3 and running through June 18… It was Duke Ellington who really encouraged me to take my painting seriously. He said it’s always better to have two creative passions and he was right.

More:New name for Strand Capitol: Appell Center for the Performing Arts

Q: You and your wife Susan have been supporters of the arts in school. Why is arts education such an important cause to you?

A; During World War II, Winston Churchill was supporting the fund for the arts with Parliament and he was confronted by the members who questioned why they should allot funds during wartime for the arts, and Churchill’s response was, “What else are we fighting for?”  And that is why with my wife Susan, we founded Exploring the Arts to support arts education and programs in public high schools. When students have a strong arts curriculum they like to come to school and they like to stay in school. By communicating with each other through the arts we connect in a way that goes beyond our differences. It goes right to our humanity.  And it makes us better citizens of the world as a result.

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Source: Lady Gaga

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