Jason Olaine, vice president of programming at Jazz at Lincoln Center, which will celebrate Tony Bennett in a concert gala next April, has known Antonia for years, and praised her “fresh, direct” vocal approach. “It feels very honest, without a lot of ornamentation,” he said. “I’ve seen her on the East Coast with other groups, and it will be nice to have her in a small group setting, with people she’s intimately familiar with.”
While her album doesn’t have a firm release date, Bennett has more live concerts planned for February in Chicago. “I don’t really have a timeline, because I look at my dad and I think, he just kept reinventing himself and going on and on,” she said.
Bennett also credits her light touch musically in part to her father’s influence: “He would always give me this great advice, which is to sing the way you speak.” She added, “I think the most important thing I absorbed from my dad was how much he loved what he did — how much he got from the audience, and how much he gave in return.”
After her father learned he had Alzheimer’s disease, his work became therapeutic, she said. “I think just being in that routine of singing and performing was important for him. Sometimes he would repeat a song, but nobody ever cared — he always sang like it like he was singing it for the first time. It was beautiful to watch him do something he really loved. Even after he stopped singing in concert halls, he would get together with his piano player and go through songs.”
Bennett is already carrying on a family tradition, inviting her own daughter, Maya, 7, onstage during performances. “I’ll let her sing the parts she knows, and if I think she doesn’t know a part I’ll just sneak the words in,” she said.
For Bennett, something more than maternal pride is at work in such moments. “I feel very confident now,” she said. “I feel like this is my time; I’ve been honing my craft for many years, and I feel whatever I put out now will be a good reflection of who I am — like a page in a book that I can keep building on. I’d really like to be able to do this forever and ever.”