HOH’s One-Minute Recess: A Renaissance Crooner

Posted April 29, 2009 at 11:08am

Legendary performer Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but he’s sure taking the nation’s capital by storm.

Bennett presented his personal portrait of Duke Ellington to the National Portrait Gallery this morning, where it was installed in the museum’s “New Arrivals— gallery. Today marks the 110th anniversary of Ellington’s birth, and Bennett’s watercolor tribute will hang in the gallery throughout the summer.

HOH met up with Bennett in the Capitol Visitor Center last night, just after he performed “The Good Life— for Members and special guests. And while Bennett said he was honored by the gallery’s selection of his work, he noted that the Ellington portrait is actually the third piece that he has presented to the Smithsonian Institution.

“I can’t ask for more success when it comes to my artwork,— he said.

Art wasn’t the only thing on Bennett’s mind, however. During his trip to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Bennett urged Members to support legislation compensating artists when their songs are played on the radio.

He certainly had an audience — dozens of Members came out to pose for photos with the singer, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Bob Bennett (R-Utah), as well as Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

But it was Sen. Patrick Leahy (the sponsor of the artist compensation bill) who had the honor of introducing the singer. The Vermont Democrat noted that while he has a very Irish name, his mother was an Italian American — and a very big fan of the crooner. With his introduction of Bennett, Leahy said, “she would admit that I finally amounted to something.—

Not that Leahy isn’t a big Bennett fan himself.

“I have a number of your songs on my iPod,— Leahy told the singer. “I listen to it, especially when I’m traveling … and want to relax.—

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