Veteran crooner Tony Bennett is throwing his support behind a new campaign encouraging children to stay in school and graduate. The legendary singer will take part in a day long broadcast on American Graduate Day next month (27Sep14) from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting and U.S. TV station WNET New York.
The broadcast will attempt to boost school graduation rates, and a number of other celebrities will also be taking part, including Girls actress Alison Williams, actor Edward James Olmos, American statesman Colin Powell, and U.S. Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
It will include interviews and performances celebrating the work of groups helping youth to succeed at school and work.
Lady Gaga made a surprise appearance with crooner Tony Bennett at the Montreal Jazz Festival in Canada on Tuesday night (01Jul14). The Born This Way hitmaker is working with the legendary singer on a new jazz-themed album and she stunned Bennett's fans by joining him on stage during his show at Montreal's Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier venue to showcase some of their material.
They performed a number of tracks including jazz standard Lush Life, which Gaga declared to be her "favourite song".
The pop star later shared pictures of herself with Bennett on her Instagram.com page, writing, "Surprise! I sang with Tony tonight in Montreal's Jazz Festival!... I had the time of my life tonight."
The pair worked together on Bennett's 2011 album Duets II and have remained close ever since. Their new record Cheek to Cheek is set to hit shelves later this year (14).
Lady Gaga surprised drinkers at a hotel bar in New York City on Wednesday night (18Jun14) by putting on an impromptu performance. The Poker Face star showed up at the Gramercy Park Hotel's Rose Bar in Manhattan with jazz musician Brian Newman, who has been working with the singer on a collaboration with Tony Bennett.
The pair put on a brief performance for patrons, and a source tells New York Post gossip column Page Six, "They sounded great."
Earlier that day, Gaga and Newman had matching tattoos inked as a tribute to Bennett, and they also visited Arlene's Grocery, a music venue where the pop star performed before finding fame.
Lady Gaga now boasts a permanent reminder of her friendship with crooner Tony Bennett after having a tattoo of one of his drawings inked on her arm. The Bad Romance superstar grew close to the Because of You legend in 2011 when they collaborated on his Duets II album, and they have remained firm friends ever since.
Gaga proved her dedication to the 87 year old on Wednesday (18Jun14) when she had the image of a trumpet, sketched by Bennett, tattooed on her inner bicep.
Brian Newman, who is working on Gaga's new jazz-themed record with Bennett, also had the same design permanently etched on his arm.
In a post on Twitter.com, the singer wrote, "Bennedetto. Tony's an artist. He sketched this trumpet and were getting tattoos (sic)... Let's go it's jazz time world."
Sir Tom Jones is set to receive the Silver Clef lifetime achievement award at a Nordoff Robbins charity event next month (Jul14). The Welsh singer will be feted at a ceremony in London on 4 July (14). Past recipients of the accolade include Barry Gibb and Tony Bennett.
Oprah Winfrey and U.S. President Barack Obama have joined stars including Bette Midler, Tony Bennett, Rihanna and Pharrell Williams to pay tribute to celebrated writer/poet Maya Angelou following her death on Wednesday (28May14). The influential author passed away at her home in North Carolina, just days after ill health prompted her to cancel an appearance at a prizegiving this Friday (30May14), and celebrities took to their Twitter.com blogs to celebrate her life within minutes of the tragic announcement.
Veteran entertainer Midler became one of the first stars to comment on the 86 year old's passing, writing, "The beautiful Maya Angelou died this morning. A big and radiant soul, at rest at last", while crooner Bennett posted, "Maya Angelou was an exceptional writer and human being and her inspiration will continue to enrich us all."
Rihanna praised Angelou as an "angel" and revealed, "The first book I read as a teenager, 'I know why the caged bird sings'. Felt like we knew her", and singer and superproducer Williams mused, "Her light will be sorely missed".
TV titan Winfrey paid a touching tribute to her longtime "mentor, mother/sister, and friend", adding, "She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. The world knows her as a poet but at the heart of her, she was a teacher. 'When you learn, teach. When you get, give,' is one of my best lessons from her... "She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace. I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds."
President Obama, who awarded Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, also issued a statement about Angelou's passing, writing in part, "(Wife) Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time: a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman."
A slew of other tributes have also been posted online from the likes of Olivia Wilde, Kerry Washington, Beyonce, William Shatner, Kelly Rowland, Lena Dunham, Olivia Munn, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, rapper Nas, and revered U.S. broadcaster Larry King.
Music icon Billy Joel has opened up about trying heroin, revealing his high from the drug inspired his song Scandinavian Skies. The Piano Man celebrated his 65th birthday a week early on Monday (28Apr14) with a Town Hall event moderated by shock jock Howard Stern and broadcast live on Sirius XM.
During the meeting, Stern inquired about Joel's past drug use, and the singer confessed he once tried heroin and the result was the track Scandinavian Skies from his 1982 album, The Nylon Curtain.
Joel recalled, "This was back in the late '70s I think. We were in Amsterdam, and there was all this stuff going on, so I said 'Let me see what this is like.'
"It got me so high I didn't know how to deal with it. You just get way out, just go to another place, and you're into the blues. All you want to hear is the blues. You start drooling, and you get sick."
The star-studded event also included live performances by Pink, Melissa Etheridge, Boyz II Men, Idina Menzel and Tony Bennett, who sang covers of some of Joel's greatest hits.
Legendary crooner Tony Bennett has dismissed modern songwriting as "mostly terrible." The Rags To Riches singer is dismayed by the state of popular music and believes record label executives are obsessed with ensuring their releases make money quickly rather than backing records that will stand the test of time.
Bennett also accuses music corporations of dumbing down by refusing to release music that will engage listeners on an intellectual level.
The 87-year-old star tells BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, "The songs that are written today, most of them are terrible. It's a very bad period musically throughout the world for popular music. The corporations took it over and they want to make so much money and they don't care whether the public likes it or not. They think the public is ignorant so their attitude is don't give them anything intelligent as it won't sell."
He is also convinced that labels are struggling at the moment because they are only concerned with selling records to a younger audience, adding, "I grew up in an era where the record companies just sold records to everybody, and the whole family bought songs. Today record companies are failing because they're putting their eggs just on the young, and I think it's rather silly. They're missing out thousands of people, but they don't buy them (records) because they don't have lasting quality."
Iconic actress/singer Doris Day will celebrate her 90th birthday next month (Apr14) by helping to raise money for her own animal welfare charity. Organisers at the Doris Day Animal Foundation will host a fashion show for dogs, an adoption event and a tribute dinner for fans in the Hollywood veteran's honour in her adopted Carmel, California on 4 April (14). The birthday bash will also feature an auction of memorabilia donated by Day and pals including Sir Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett.
U.S. leader President Barack Obama has added his tribute to those pouring in following the death of folk music legend Pete Seeger, saluting the late icon for "reminding us where we come from". Obama released a statement on Tuesday morning (28Jan14) after learning of the activist singer/songwriter's passing at the age of 94.
He wrote, "Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community - to stand up for what's right, speak out against what's wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be.
"Over the years, Pete used his voice - and his hammer - to strike blows for worker's rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along.
"For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayer to Pete's family and all those who loved him."
Billy Bragg, Tom Morello, Tony Bennett and Steve Martin were among the first celebrities to offer tributes to Seeger, who passed away in New York City after a short illness.