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Artist Profile: Tony Bennett
Anthony Dominick “Tony” Benedetto (born August 3, 1926), known as Tony Bennett, is an American singer of popular music, standards, show tunes, and jazz. Bennett is also an accomplished painter, having created works—under the name Anthony Benedetto—that are on permanent public display in several institutions. He is the founder of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in New York City.
Raised in New York City, Bennett began singing at an early age. He fought in the final stages of World War II as an infantryman with the U.S. Army in the European Theatre. Afterwards, he developed his singing technique, signed with Columbia Records, and had his first number-one popular song with “Because of You” in 1951. Several top hits such as “Rags to Riches” followed in the early 1950s. Bennett then further refined his approach to encompass jazz singing. He reached an artistic peak in the late 1950s with albums such as The Beat of My Heart and Basie Swings, Bennett Sings. In 1962, Bennett recorded his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”. His career and his personal life then suffered an extended downturn during the height of the rock music era.
Bennett staged a comeback in the late 1980s and 1990s, putting out gold record albums again and expanding his audience to the MTV Generation while keeping his musical style intact. He remains a popular and critically praised recording artist and concert performer in the 2010s. Bennett has won 17 Grammy Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented in 2001) and two Emmy Awards, and has been named an NEA Jazz Master and a Kennedy Center Honoree. He has sold over 50 million records worldwide.
Founded in 1999 by Tony Bennett and Susan Benedetto, Exploring the Arts (ETA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to strengthen the role of the arts in American education by returning arts-enriched programming to public schools across the country. To this end, ETA develops programs that connect private funders, individual artists and cultural institutions to public schools as a way to achieve greater equality of resources and opportunity for youth of all means and backgrounds. ETA champions programs and curricula that: (1) teach young artists to embrace true craft over the cult of fame that pervades our culture; (2) promote interdisciplinary learning by integrating the arts with standard academics; and (3) that encourage social consciousness and a commitment to community.