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Singer Antonia Bennett will join her father, Tony Bennett, for an Aug. 30 concert at the Anderson Center for the Performing Arts.
Binghamton to embrace the Bennetts
August 27, 2014Tweet
Antonia Bennett always learns something new when she tours and performs with her legendary father.
“He’s such a master,” she said of Tony Bennett. “Watching him is so thrilling because there are moments when it looks like he’s not doing much, but in that moment he’s actually doing a lot.
“There are nuances every time I watch the show. Maybe it’s in the way he greets the audience or the way he puts his hand out or the way he takes a bow or his phrasing. It’s about his entire presence.”
Antonia Bennett will make her presence felt onstage at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, at the Anderson Center for the Performing Arts, when she opens for her 88-year-old father, who has sold more than 50 million records and earned 17 Grammy Awards in a singing career spanning nearly 65 years. Bennett will not only duet with her father in the middle of the show, but she will also perform songs from her new album, “Embrace Me.”
The album, recorded with the Jon Davis Trio and produced by Holly Knight, features standards from the Great American Songbook such as George and Ira Gershwin’s “But Not For Me” and “Embraceable You;” Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington’s “The Nearness of You;” and Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields’ “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” The latter song also appears on Tony Bennett’s upcoming “Cheek to Cheek” duets album with Lady Gaga.
“Embrace Me” shows off a voice that ASCAP Magazine calls “simultaneously sultry and familiar, sassy and classy.” Bennett said she considers the album an “equal collaboration” with the jazz trio.
“It is all songs that we’ve been (performing) together for so many years,” she said. “We picked our favorite tunes and did them. It was a natural progression. … We got together and each person brought their own opinion.”
There are several reasons why the songs on “Embrace Me” have stood the test of time, Bennett said.
“The lyrics are so poignant and timeless,” she said. “The melodies are equally as beautiful and rich. As an interpreter of the Great American Songbook, they make it so easy because you have so much to pull from. These stories are so good.”
Bennett considers “The Nearness of You” one of her favorites to sing.
“I’ve sung that since I was very little,” she recalled. “My dad came home from a trip to Japan when I was a little girl and he brought me a record of Abbey Lincoln – who was a great singer – and Hank Jones, a wonderful pianist. The whole record was voice and piano. She sang that song and I remember just clinging to that record.”
Although she said she was influenced by many kinds of music, Bennett said standards have always interested her. After all, she was often on stage as a young girl singing with her father.
“My dad was bringing me onstage as soon as I could walk and talk!” she said. “We would sing things like ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ and ‘The Hokey Pokey’ and then I slowly graduated into other things. I didn’t know what key I was singing in, but I knew a lot of songs. I watched a lot of musicals and all of the old movies. I probably knew more show tunes and jazz standards than any other kid my age, that’s for sure!”
Bennett graduated from the Berklee School of Music in Boston and started her music career. She has opened concerts for her father for the past decade, performed with him on the 2008 album “A Swingin’ Christmas” and released three albums of her own while touring across the United States.
Now 40, Bennett said the support of her father and his band has been a key to her success.
“My dad is so proud of me,” she said. “He’s my biggest fan – sometimes I call him my publicist! He is amazing. And the guys in the band are so excited for me. They have given me a lot of support and experience. (Guitarist) Gray Sargent and (bassist) Marshall Wood practically watched me grow up as a musician. I think I met Marshall when I was 10 or 12. It’s amazing to have experienced musicians working with you because you gain so much by being around them. They make you better.”
Bennett, who will have album-release celebrations on both coasts for “Embrace Me,” said her next project will be a big-band/orchestra album featuring tunes from both the Great American Songbook and original songs.
She said she hopes the Binghamton University audience will like the Anderson Center concert as much as she will enjoy performing at it.
“My dad is so good at what he does,” she said. “I know people will like him. He really is sensational to watch. On my end, I want people to walk away saying: ‘She’s a good singer. She has good chops.’ I hope they become fans of mine, too, and look for my record and show my love and support as I do more things on my own.”