This week, Tony Bennett opened himself up to generations of fans with a marathon of digital appearances to promote the release of his entire Columbia Records catalog available for download on iTunes, as well as the long awaited release of Tony Bennett Live at the Sahara: Las Vegas, 1964.
The 87-year-old crooner icon’s “digital day” included a HuffPost Live Chat, a Q&A on Twitter courtesy of the hashtag #AskTony, a nostalgic look-back video series on Facebook and finally, the digital-iest of all digital platforms, a reddit AMA.
Always a class act, Tony doled out advice and wisdom for current and future musicians and the common man alike. Read carefully:
Be Yourself: When asked about how to achieve the kind of longevity he’s had in his career, Bennett told HuffPost that when he was coming up the ranks, “the whole secret was to find out how to be very natural on the stage. And by doing that you were different. Just by being yourself, you were automatically different.” Bennett went on to say on reddit that when he looks at many musicians today, “everyone seems to be doing the same thing.” Bennett’s advice for standing out enough to stick around is simple: “just by being yourself you [are] different than everybody else.”
Respect those who came before you, respect those who come after you: Bennett listed Louis Armstrong, Franks Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald as his musical inspirations. On reddit, he told the story of meeting Sinatra for the first time and telling the famous singer how nervous he was to perform. Sinatra gave Bennett some advice, which he continues to pass on: “The public if they see that you’re nervous, they will support you, they will reach out to you, and when they reach out to you, just reach out to them.”
Bennet was also quick to shed praise on current artists, particularly Lady Gaga, who he’ll release a jazz album with in early 2014. Bennett described Gaga as “brilliant” and “creative” and when asked if her tendency toward the dramatic distracted from those qualities, Tony casually replied that we would all see her genius eventually. “She’s off to a start to become bigger in popularity than Elvis Presley.”
Follow your passion, always: Bennett realized he loved both singing and painting as a child and has pursued both every day since, with no plans to stop. Tony insisted that even though he’s been around a while, “believe me when I say that I’m absolutely just starting out. I still have very, very much to learn.”
After 87 years, Tony Bennett has lived a full life. As that life’s work becomes available for current fans and future generations on iTunes, he shares his best wisdom yet: “Life is a gift and the more we treat it like that, the more we can respect one another on this planet. When you’re alive, you’re alive.”