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Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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Tony Bennett's voice will blow you away

PASADENA, Calif. - If you get a chance to hear Tony Bennett sing, you'll be amazed. He recently performed for a room full of TV critics - a cynical bunch by nature - and completely blew us away.

His voice is really that good.

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And then you realize that he's 85 years old and it's nothing short of astonishing.

To what does he attribute his amazing longevity - and the even more amazing longevity of his career?

"Well, I've had very good health, but I must say it was the American Theatre Wing that gave me great training," said Bennett, pointing to voice coaches he had as a young man. "It was great experience and great the teachers are the ones that gave me a good lesson about how to take care of my voice."

You can hear that voice in "Great Performances" on Friday at 8 p.m. on PBS/Ch. 7. Bennett returns in "Duets II," singing with Lady Gaga, John Mayer, Michael Buble, k.d. lang, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Queen Latifah, Norah Jones, Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Faith Hill, Alejandro Sanz, Carrie Underwood and Amy Winehouse (in what became her last recording).

And none of the vocals has been enhanced for the broadcast.

Still, there's nothing like hearing him in person.

"He has the goods," said Danny Bennett, Tony's son and longtime manager. "I think we all get astounded."

He said that his father was recently interviewed for an upcoming documentary "and I love this moment [when] he says, 'My goal in life is that when I get older, I want to show people that I'm getting better.' And he's 85 years old, saying 'when.'

"That's something that you can't fake. And it's that mind-set that I think enables him to constantly push that envelope. And he does. He takes chances that amaze people. And that's something that we just we don't have these days."

The elder Bennett has no plans to stop singing anytime soon.

"I will never retire," he said. "And if my voice goes, I'm still going to paint. I just want to keep improving as I go on, and it's just taught me what a beautiful life it is.

"It's not that I want to do it. I have to do it."

He's wasn't kidding about the painting. In addition to his 15 Grammys, Bennett has three paintings hanging in the Smithsonian.

TONY GOES GAGA: Of all the artists he sang with in "Duets" and "Duets II," the one who surprised him the most was Lady Gaga.

"Well, you know, you meet performers, and then all of a sudden you meet someone that has a touch of genius," Bennett said. "She's highly intelligent, highly creative. She knows so much about performing. She sings magnificent."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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