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Antonia Bennett: Behind the Beats

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Antonia Bennett.

If you ever saw Tony Bennett in concert, there’s a good chance you might be familiar with his daughter Antonia, who opened for her father many times over the past two decades. If not, let us introduce you to Antonia Bennett, a fresh new voice emerging on the smooth jazz scene.

We sat down with Antonia Bennett at the end of 2023 for our year-end BEATS magazine. Check out the magazine article 'New Voices' in our BEATS magazine here, but first keep scrolling for the extended version of our interview in text format.

Allen Kepler: “Right On Time” is your debut single for ‘smooth jazz’ radio.  Tell us how it might be different (or similar) to your previous recordings.

Antonia Bennett: Most of my previous recordings have all been from the Great American song book. This is an original song I wrote with Cliff Goldmacher and I’m very proud of it. I think it’s a good representation of who I am today. 

AK: The tune is positive, upbeat and very memorable in its melody… What artists or songs do you feel influence your creativity?

AB: Nat Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Mildred Bailey, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie. I have a pretty wide range of things that I’m influenced by and many of those things cross genres. I like to think that I’m influenced by all of my all surroundings and there’s something to take from everywhere, even things you wouldn’t normally gravitate towards. 

AK: You started singing and performing at a very young age…

AB: The earliest memories I have of singing are at the Fairmont Hotel with my dad.  When my dad was out on the road with the Basie Orchestra, I would get on stage and sing things like the, “Hokey Pokey,” and, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

AK: I had the pleasure of interviewing your father just over ten years ago. He was a true pleasure and one of the most dynamic, passionate and creative people I have ever met. Tell us about your relationship.

AB: He wasn’t just my father, he was my friend and mentor. We both had a lot of common interests. We enjoyed music and art. We would work out together, go ice skating in the winter, play tennis in the summer, visit museums, and go to concerts. We really enjoyed each others company.

AK: You had a lot of exposure to some of the great performers while growing up… Tell us about some of those experiences.

AB: Every Christmas Day, my dad would pick me up and take me to Ella Fitzgerald’s house. She would proceed to pull every record she owned out of the sleeve and listen to one artist after another because she was so inspired by the music. It was so wonderful to be together. 

My Dad was often double billed with Rosemary Clooney, who had a voice like a bell, crisp and clean. She had incredible phrasing and she brought so much to each song that she sang because she was a wonderful storyteller. I learned so much from watching her. 

AK:Your musical training includes the prestigious Berklee College of Music. How did that experience influence your music and performance?

AB: Up until the point I went to Berklee, I had only been surrounded by musicians that were older than me. I had never really been around young musicians. WhenI got to Berklee, I was surrounded by many musicians my age. Many were already great musicians and others were coming into their own. It was wonderful to be able to share and explore with people who were in my peer group. Up until this point, I felt like a little bit of an outsider because I had this thing that I liked to do and my friends didn’t really understand it. It was a great place to experiment, to learn, and to grow. 

AK: What is in store for you in 2024?

AB: I’ll be releasing my record and I’m going to be touring the United States. I’m continuing to write more music and work on collecting more material for the record after this one, a future release.

Find more on her website, here.

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