Lady Gaga is releasing a new album with Tony Bennett this spring.
Sadly, the upcoming collaboration comes with the news that Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016. In a profile of Bennett on AARP, it was revealed that Tony and Gaga recorded the new album between 2018 and 2020,
In the profile, Bennett’s wife says that that he was already showing symptoms of dementia in 2018. The documentary footage of the two in the studio together describes Bennett as a “muted presence” who “speaks rarely” due to the onset of dementia.
Gaga kept her sentences “short and simple” when speaking to Bennett, at one point telling him:
“You sound so good, Tony.”
But Bennett just looks at Gaga in silence. Gaga says,
“Wasn’t that fun every night?”
The AARP story describes one poignant scene,
“… in an extraordinarily moving sequence in which Tony (a man she calls ‘an incredible mentor, and friend, and father figure‘) sings a solo passage of a love song. Gaga looks on, from behind her mic, her smile breaking into a quiver, her eyes brimming, before she puts her hands over her face and sobs.”
Bennett’s family decided to make his Alzheimer’s diagnosis public for the first time ahead of the album’s release, realizing that he would be unable to complete promotional activities due to his symptoms.
Bennett’s son, Danny, said in the profile that he spoke to Gaga before the article went out to
“make sure she was cool, because she watches his back all the time. She was like,
‘Absolutely, it’s just another gift that he can give to the world.’”
Bennett’s neurologist, Gayatri Devi, explained that making music has been very positive for his health for the past few years.
“It kept him on his toes and also stimulated his brain in a significant way…
He is doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do. He really is the symbol of hope for someone with a cognitive disorder.”
You can read the full AARP story here and find out more about the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.