Although he leaves it in San Francisco, Tony Bennett shares his beautiful heart with the world. And for his humanistic endeavors, especially toward nurturing young artists, the vocal stylist and master of the American songbook received the Humanity in the Arts Peace Award in the evening of July 11th at the 46th annual Montreux Jazz Festival.
The award, given by the International Committee of Artists for Peace, was presented to Mr. Bennett by ICAP co-president Herbie Hancock. Festival founder Claude Nobs, a past recipient of the award, joined Mr. Hancock onstage for the presentation at Stravinski Hall. Mr. Hancock, who would go on to delight a packed auditorium later that evening in a performance with his current band—Lionel Loueke on guitar, James Genus on bass, and Trevor Lawrence Jr. on drums—read from the award certificate: “For your exceptional commitment as an outstanding ambassador of conscience and peace, for your consummate artistry, and for your tireless efforts, as an artist, to advocate for peace and harmony throughout our global community.”
Mr. Bennett and his wife, Susan Crow, a New York City schoolteacher, are the founders of Exploring the Arts, a charitable organization dedicated to creating, promoting and supporting arts education. In 2001, they established the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, a public high school (named for Mr. Bennett’s close friend and colleague) dedicated to teaching the performing arts. Among its many virtues, the school has a very high graduation rate.
ICAP brought its anti-bullying musical project iChoose to the school in June 2010, and, in light of the significant impact iChoose had on students and the community, Mr. Bennett asked Mr. Hancock how he can further support the activities of ICAP.
After receiving a standing ovation from the more than 4,000 in attendance, Mr. Bennett expressed his overwhelming joy and appreciation to ICAP for the honor.
At this year’s festival, ICAP debuted a new exhibition, “Voices of Hope—Voices of Change,” which was also held at Stravinski Hall, one of the most visible venues for the prestigious musical event, held on the shores of Lake Geneva. The exhibition, on display June 29–July 14, presents the words of major performing artists who speak to the great untapped potential possessed by individuals, especially youth, as well as the power and responsibility of artists to bring awareness to the important issues of our time—the power of the heart to make things happen.
“Voices of Hope—Voices of Change” includes these artists and their comments:
Alicia Keys: How we treat the poor is a reflection of who we are as a people.
Bono: Music can change the world because it can change people.
Herbie Hancock: I believe in humanity and the creativity of the human spirit.
Patti Smith: Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.
Wayne Shorter: If you are in this higher condition and you’re performing, something transcends the music and reaches to the inside of someone else. It triggers a well of wisdom.
Shakira: I believe that I have to use the resources provided by my artistic career in order to tell people about real problems in the real world.
Sade: You can only grow as an artist as long as you allow yourself the time to grow as a person
Quincy Jones: I feel that there is a wealth of untapped greatness in the younger generation that needs a jumpstart to come forth.
Ricky Martin: I’m going to use my music and my career to talk about things that we should be concerned about.
Angelique Kidjo: My parent taught me to be a person with a social conscious – and that what you give is never lost.
Carlos Santana: The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.
Ella Fitzgerald: If I can touch other people with my music, maybe help them have a better day, that’s wonderful.