He died about two weeks ago.
About six or seven years ago, I got the opportunity to see Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. I was excited; and to be honest, a little more excited to see Gaga than Tony. Of course, they were both amazing, singing standards together. But the evening belonged to Tony – a consummate, classy, elegant singer and performer. He had my heart from the moment he stepped on stage.
At one point, he put his microphone down on the piano and sang acapella. His voice and presence filled Radio City Music Hall. What a gift I was given that night. Tony came on stage and sang. That was it. He didn’t need anything else. His voice was honest, without any gimmicks; it was obvious how dedicated he was to his craft, and his love of singing; and he did it with class and a style that let me into his world. That night he gave a master class in what it means to be a singer.
I remember my parents playing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” on the stereo in the living room, and I strive to write the way Tony sang. I want it to be honest; there’s no room for gimmicks in my writing. I want to write from a place of humility, to continue to be dedicated to my craft, to be true to my voice, to be open to learning something new all the time, and to let readers in.
Mr. Bennett, you left your heart on the stage. I hope to leave mine on the page. Thank you for everything you taught me that night.