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‘He Was Sweet to Everyone’ - Tony Bennett’s Warmth Remembered by Colleague & Friend

By Jake Beardslee · July 22, 2023

Legendary singer Tony Bennett was acclaimed for his inspiring talent, consummate professionalism and kindness.  Tom Beetz, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Legendary singer Tony Bennett, who passed away this week at age 96, was praised by those who knew him best as not just a monumentally talented vocalist, but also a kind and thoughtful man.

Grammy-winning producer David Kahne, who collaborated extensively with Bennett, explained what made the singer so special.

“He was a professional at a level that you don’t hardly ever see - maybe 3 or 4 times in your life,” Kahne told ABC News, recalling a studio session when Bennett refused to sing a big note because the trumpet solo before it wasn’t good enough. “He was looking at it as an entire performance. And I went and talked to the trumpet player and the trumpet player did it good and Tony nailed his big note and we were done. Everybody clapped. He just gave a complete performance.”

Kahne also noted Bennett’s “incredibly kind” nature. He shared a touching memory of Bennett calling Ella Fitzgerald after recording her song “You Showed Me The Way.” “She got on the phone and she was on the speakers and said he played her the song and she was crying. She said, ‘Thank you, T, I love you.’ It was so nice. And thinking of the transfer from her to him to everybody and how everybody shared and the level of of performance… You don’t get to experience that very often, but it was such a touching moment between him and her.”

Kahne said Bennett had a unique vocal quality that allowed listeners to connect deeply with him: “He had that special thing that maybe four people have had in my life. Singers where he sounds loud when he’s singing very quiet. And that was where his phrasing was from. He wasn’t listening to saxophone players. He said Trombone players.”

Bennett was kind to everyone he interacted with, said Kahne, from waiters at restaurants to massive orchestras. “He would walk in and everybody would just feel okay. And if there was a problem, he let it get solved, and he brought it forward in a positive way. He was just so kind to everyone.”

Anthony Dominick Benedetto - aka Tony Bennett - will be missed not only for his sweet, powerful and truly unforgetable vocalizations, but also for the warmth and humanity he brought to the world.

Light Wave commentary

The recent passing of Tony Bennett marks the end of an era for traditional pop music. Bennett was one of the last remaining icons of the Great American Songbook, with a career stretching over seven decades. Music producer David Kahne provides a touching glimpse into what made Bennett so beloved - namely, his incredible talent and professionalism as a performer combined with his warmth and compassion as a person. In an age when so many celebrities are addicted to attention and controversy, Bennett was a class the likes of which we will never see again. Sadly, the world has lost a true gentleman and consummate entertainer. Bennett was an iconic role model for excellence and decency that today’s artists would do well to emulate.