Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga made a surprise appearance at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in New York City Monday, performing and hosting a master class in the school’s Tony Bennett Concert Hall.
Bennett opened the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in 2001 in his hometown of Astoria, Queens. Though he typically attends graduation, this year he is unable due to his tour schedule. So, instead, he brought his friend and collaborator Gaga with him to the last day of classes for something special.
Speaking with moderator Lester Holt of NBC, Bennett and Gaga talked about jazz music, The Great American Songbook, creativity and other subjects, fielding questions from members of the the 700-student audience.
The two then performed a couple classic American songs, with Bennett on “The Very Thought of You” and Gaga singing Cole Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” They followed that by playfully serenading each other with the standard “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” adding a cheek-to-cheek slow dance.
“When I first heard Gaga sing, my reaction was that she is going to be bigger than Elvis,” said Bennett. “She is so bright and intelligent and she has it. In jazz you either got it, the syncopation, the rhythm or you don’t, and when I heard Gaga I said she’s got it!”
Gaga chimed in, talking about singing with Bennett — a relationship that began when the two performed at the Robin Hood Foundation benefit gala in 2011, and soon after the two duetted on “The Lady Is a Tramp” for Bennett’s “Duets II” album.
“When I am with Tony I feel like I am fifteen years old at home listening to Ella and Coltrane records,” she said. “The way he sings is effortless and so prolific. It’s so liberating to be able to sing jazz, especially at this point in my career.”
The event closed with student choirs performing a rendition of Tony Bennett’s “Smile” and Lady Gaga’s “Applause.”
Gaga and Tony Bennett are currently collaborating on a jazz album planned for release later this year. Several musicians have perviously done master classes at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, including Billy Joel and Paul McCartney.