"I feel that I have already been extremely successful," Antonia Bennett said. "I am achieving my goals, more and more each day – and I couldn't ask for more than that!" Bennett is the youngest of four children of famed traditional pop singer Tony Bennett and actress Sandra Grant. Mr. Anthony Dominick "Tony" Benedetto (89 and still performing last year) won 18 Grammy Awards and sold over 50 million records worldwide! He recorded his signature song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" in 1962. Yet each decade brought a re-discovery of Mr. Tony's tenor tone talent, including a recently celebrated appearance with Lady Gaga.
Mr. Tony's duet with Amy Winehouse on "Body and Soul" – reportedly the last recording she made before her death - charted on the Billboard Hot 100. This made Mr. Tony the oldest living artist to appear there, as well as the artist with the greatest span of appearances! The album made Mr. Tony the oldest living artist to reach that top spot, as well as marking the first time he had reached it himself. A model of Koss headphones, the Tony Bennett Signature Edition (TBSE1), was created for this milestone. (Mr. Tony was one of the early adopters of the Koss product back in the 1960s.)
Antonia, the daughter of legendary singer Mr. Tony, Bennett has been performing alongside her father since she could walk and talk. She studied and performed at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute and Berklee College of Music in Boston. Beginning in the mid-2000s, Miss Tony began to appear as an opening act or as a guest during her father's shows. She performed in opera houses, casinos, jazz clubs and amphitheaters worldwide, including Radio City Music Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, the Umbria Jazz Festival, the Newport Jazz Festival, The Greek Theatre, Royal Albert Hall in London and Caesars Palace. Some of her early performances were shared with legendary American icons such as Rosemary Clooney, Count Basie, Regis Philbin, Don Rickles, and growing up with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Gene Kelly! She did a couple of scenes with Angelina Jolie in the Clint Eastwood-directed "Changeling." Antonia can be heard in a duet with dad on the track "I've got my love to keep me warm," on his "A Swingin' Christmas" album.
Her debut album Embrace Me, is a treatment of standards from the Great American Songbook, released on small TV and show tunes label Perseverance Records last year. On this album, Miss Tony covers the likes of Porter, Gershwin, Hammerstein, Cahn, Kern and other greats from the American Songbook of standards. The Great American Songbook, also known as American Standards, is the canon of the most important and influential American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century. The Songbook comprises standards by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin, and also Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, Richard Rodgers, and others. The album is currently available on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes and Noble.
1. All of You
"I absolutely love to sing and perform," Antonia said. "Bringing others joy and happiness is just about the most rewarding thing you can do in life. All of the hard work and perseverance is definitely worth the effort when you get to look down at a smiling crowd! I find motivation from a wide variety of things. Music, my audience, art, peoples me daily (especially those persevering despite substantial life challenges), that which I consider beautiful in life – nature, children – and the list goes continues." With no children of her own, Antonia says she enjoys listening to music, art and travel. Her most favorite celebrity is Dad, "because of how much I respect, love, and admire him." Accomplished in her right, Antonia qualities are reminiscent of the great female jazz vocalists of the twentieth century, but her song list harkens back to Daddy. However, it is wonderful to hear the old pop standards.
Traditional pop (also classic pop or pop standards) music consists of Western (and particularly American) popular music that generally pre-dates the advent of rock and roll in the mid-1950s. Traditional/classic pop music is generally regarded as having existed between the mid-1940s and mid-1950s. All Music defines traditional pop as "post-big band and pre-rock & roll pop music." This definition is disputed by many scholars, however, as many of the most popular works of Cole Porter and those of George and Ira Gershwin pre-date World War II, while the works of Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern date to World War I.
The impression on Antonia's album though is that these songs are old. Every song from her last record is available on Jazz Standards. The classic lyrics are found virtually on any lyric portal website. Miss Tony does not have the eclectic performance of Patricia Barber. Nor the showy suspense of Diana Krall. She is not as smoky deep or husky rich as either Mr. Tony or Cassandra Wilson. Hers are faithful reproductions. She isn't re-styling the classics. Just playing them straight. The recoding is not crowded with sonic artifacts or jumbled with big band sounds. Their pace remains fixed on 1950s time. Neither did the accompanying jazz standard instruments give flashy appearances either. Their performance enhanced her singing and did not distract from it. No tweaking audiophile is going to reach for "Embrace Me" to show off a piano tickling or bad bass riff.
Lovers of Mr. Tony and Old Blue Eyes Frankie will be glad she is around. I found myself reaching for Norah Jones and Dido.
A JazzTimes profile from 2010 said that her voice does not resemble that of Mr. Tony, saying "her sound suggests the creaminess of Jane Monheit cut with a 90-proof jigger or two of Nellie McKay." According to The New York Times, her beautiful voice "conjures echoes of Billie Holiday and Rickie Lee Jones, with a hint of Betty Boop.”" Miss Tony said that "is a nice compliment." The album, however, did not make me want to hear more of Miss Bennett. Instead, it made me want to hear more from Ole Blue Eyes Frankie Sinatra or dear ole dad Tony.
Is it hard to introduce your own music and sound? "Everything in life has challenges; I feel that I am lucky to have the platform I've had." Yet she is not interested in using a stage name to become somebody other than The Miss Tony Bennett. "I am more interested in doing the work and letting it speak for itself. Honestly, I try to just be myself. However, I am inspired by many wonderful musicians and talent. I'm constantly trying to learn and improve upon those musicians who have become masters of their craft. I don't believe that people should contain their music interests to just one genre." Antonia's tastes change with her moods. Lately it's been, "From This Moment On" although she did not say if it was the Diana Krall or Shania Twain version. "Each type of music brings something different to the table, "she said, "emulating different moods, scenarios and memories. People should listen to what they can connect with and what makes them happy."
"I like to remember that things can always be worse," says Antonia Bennett. "I have been so fortunate with my successes, and it has definitely been a combination of hard work and wonderful people in my life. When you love what you do, even things that would seem difficult and impossible are attainable."