Lady Gaga sheds quirky image for jazz album with Tony Bennett

Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:59am EDT
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By Robert-Jan Bartunek

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, bridging a 60-year age gap to form one of music's unlikeliest pairs, launched a jazz album on Monday that lets the pop diva put aside her wacky image to sing sweet harmonies with the elder statesman of cool.

"Cheek to Cheek," on sale on Tuesday after a launch concert in the ornate Renaissance setting of the Grand-Place in Brussels, features jazz standards by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and others a distant world away from Lady Gaga's 21st century.

"When I began writing music for the music industry, I became known as the quirky girl from downtown New York," she told a news conference at the 15th-century city hall.

"So I tailored my music to be that way, to get noticed, to be able to travel more and play more shows," said the 28-year-old artist known to many as much for startling costumes - like a robe made of meat - as for her innovative music and stage shows.

But swathed in blue velvet with a 2-metre (6-foot) train, Lady Gaga this week was more 1950s Hollywood star than queen of MTV in 2014 - although still easily young enough to be Bennett's grand-daughter.

"I feel liberated," she said, holding the hand of her fellow Italian-American New Yorker and musing on the challenges of old-style jazz. "It's been over eight years and I've not been singing out. But Tony will not accept any less than all of me."

The two first met in 2011 at a charity concert in New York and a short time afterwards, recorded a version of "The Lady is a Tramp" for Bennett's album Duets II.

"I was overjoyed that he had heard that I'd been singing jazz for so long, perhaps I was even afraid that I had lost that part of me," Lady Gaga said.   Continued...

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett pose on the balcony of Brussels townhall after a news conference, September 22, 2014.  REUTERS/Yves Herman