Life Is a Gift: The Zen of Bennett
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One of the most well-known and beloved vocalists of our time, Tony Bennett is an American icon. Now, in this rich and beautiful memoir, the legendary Grammy and Emmy Award–winning singer takes us behind the scenes of his multi-platinum career. Revealing, insightful, and always moving, Life Is a Gift tells the stories of Bennett’s experiences in the music industry, what he learned, and who he met along the way, including Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, and Duke Ellington, as well as Amy Winehouse, John Mayer, and Lady Gaga. A "master class in life," this revealing retrospective offers an intimate look at Tony Bennett's journey, from growing up during the Great Depression to carving a career in popular music that has spanned more than six decades as his popularity among all generations continues to grow.
by a choir in a hotel hallway, sent to him by Ellington himself. Tony persevered and thrived, thanks mostly to his devotion to music. It has been his cape and his swaddling cloth, a gift to him and his gift to us. “Go with truth and beauty, and forget everything else.” It is one of the tips Bennett offers in this book, and part of why the New York Times recently said of Bennett’s work, “We aren’t likely to see a recording career like this again.” We aren’t likely to see a man like this,
occupied Germany. Obviously the citizens of that country weren’t very friendly toward our army, so the new orchestra was supposed to break down some of those barriers. In late 1945, they started auditioning for musicians, and at first I was given the job of librarian. My job was making sure all the music was in order for each performance. But when the officer in charge, Lin Arison, heard me sing, he told me to join the band, too. We did a weekly broadcast over the Armed Forces Network that went
Fifty-Second Street was a haven for all the greats. You could just roll into those little clubs on any day and witness magic. This was the age of jam sessions; when the acts were done performing at 3 a.m., they’d close the doors and keep playing until noon the next day. As a young man, after listening to hours of Miles Davis and all these other incredible players, I’d walk out with my friends from a pitch-black room into the glaring sunshine. I can’t figure out how we functioned on so little
provided us with a temporary site. We opened the Sinatra School in 2001 with both former governor Mario Cuomo and Harry Belafonte on hand for opening day (two gentlemen who are also experts in “giving back”). The school flourished, and we began an intensive process to raise funds for our future permanent site while providing ongoing programmatic support. I was a product of public schools with quality arts programs, and Susan was a teacher at a public high school, so we understood that the arts
connected and how they’re made. Studying anatomy makes you realize what a monument the human body is. So many people are unhappy with themselves physically, but when you realize what you’re walking around with anatomically, and that everyone has a different physique that makes them an individual, you learn to appreciate yours a lot more. I am also always reading, which is the most wonderful thing anyone can do, because you constantly learn from the masters that way. When I first met the poet