THE SPECIFICS: TONY BENNETT with ANTONIA BENNET: 7 p.m, Sun., January 20, 2013, State Theater, 8th St. & Hennepin Av., downtown Mpls., MN, $69.50-$130, www.hennepintheatertrust.com, www.TonyBennett.com, www.AntoniaBennet.com.
One of America's finest singers started his life in Astoria, Queens, New York, the son of an Italian immigrant and a seamstress. He grew up in nearly abject poverty and survived the Great Depression of the 1930's. He listened to the music of Al Jolson, Bob Hope, Eddie Cantor and Louis Armstrong. He was already singing by the time he was ten. Tony Benedetto set his sights on a career in music.
But then came WWII and a stint in the infantry, his unit replacing a unit which had suffered heavy losses during the Battle of the Bulge. He described it as "a front-row seat in Hell".
Following the war, Benedetto was invited by Pearl Bailey to open for her. She had invited Bob Hope to attend and Hope in turn invited Tony to go on the road with him. Hope simplified the name to Bennett. In 1950, Bennett cut a demo of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" which earned him a contract with Columbia Records, signed by Mitch Miller.
Bennett's career has endured many changes in pop and contemporary music, attributed to his lack of fear to change with the flow...grow as an artist. He has sung music he personally enjoys throughout his career and takes enormous pride in his voice and appearance. It hasn't all been hearts and flowers but Bennett is a survivor.
Antonia is his daughter and a very fine singer in her own right as evidenced by the video selections on her website. This is an evening not just of music but of music history.