He's been wowing audiences since he was just a boy, with family members gathering around to hear him sing. Gayle talks with the legendary Tony Bennett about his career, the school of arts he founded, his musical inspirations and his love of jazz.
Tony started The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, New York, naming it after his "master and great friend." Although the school is public, students must audition to be admitted and graduation rates are very high. The students have the opportunity to perform at legendary locations like Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall before they graduate. "Whenever I have a chance, I show up and see how it's coming," Tony said. "Their spirit is fantastic."
Tony says that because of the work of artists like George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and others from that time period, it's easy for him to say there's no better country than America when it comes to producing popular music. "In our country, the '20s, '30s and '40s had the greatest songs that have ever been written," he says. "I'm convinced that at least 25 to 50 years from now, it will definitely be called America's classical music."
Tony also has a strong love for jazz, calling it "the most exciting popular music." "I consider jazz artists the most magnificent musicians that can be on the planet," he says. Besides singing, Tony is also a talented painter, with one of his pieces hanging in the Smithsonian's American Art Museum. "I've always had a passion to both sing and paint as far back as I can remember," Tony says. "I'm 82 years old, and I still have so much to learn. I'm far from finished with what I have to do."
Printed from Oprah.com on Wednesday, December 4, 2013