Monday, September 09, 2013

Tony Sings: "I Left My Heart In Singapura." Part One Bennett Live In Singapore

Eighty seven years young Tony Bennett and his daughter Antonia sings in Singapore.  It's a rare treat especially for those who love top tunes from the 40s and 50s.  Bennett is still a name to be reckoned with since he keeps himself current by singing duet with today's stars like Carrie Underwood, Norah Jones, Lady Gaga and even the late Amy Winehouse.
Theatre @ One North seats 5,000 plus.
There are others like Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Faith Hill and Queen Latifah where he shares his microphone. Songs like I Left My Heart in San Francisco,  Lady Is A Tramp, Blue Velvet, Sunny Side of the Street and Stranger in Paradise will sound fresh like the breeze from the Star Performing Arts Centre where Bennett will be singing.

The Star Performing Arts Centre is less than a year old.
Bennett's songs remind me of young Singapore where spaces and places were more serene and subdued, when movies were either in black or white and people go to the National Theatre or a Badminton Hall (image below) to watch pop shows.  The melodies also bring back memories of Singapore's youth who impersonated stars like Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. 
A Straits Times advertisement promoting Title Holders' Show.
Some won titles as Singapore's Elvis, Singapore's Pat Boone or Singapore's Cliff Richard.  There were so many of them as the 1960's Straits Times advertisement shows.  But as far as I can remember there was no Singapore's Tony Bennett. Which brings me to the topic below:

Billy Yap: Singapore's Answer To Tony Bennett:
A few years ago I went with a friend to a recording studio where he recorded some popular standards like Strangers in the Night, Too Young, It's Impossible to name a few (check below image for list). 

There were no trial runs before his recording, no notes he found too high and no mistakes made in his lyrics. His rendition of the songs he selected was perfectly pitched, clearly defined and peppered with the touch and feel of a professional.

Billy Yap who is 82 this year, sings like Tony Bennett with a voice so smooth ladies swoon when he sings at house parties, wedding dinners and karaoke sessions.  To me Billy Yap is Singapore's Tony Bennett.

"I need no big band accompaniment," he says proudly, "Just give me a good pianist who can feel my song. The other alternative is a quality, karaoke backing..."

A retired teacher, table-tennis super league player and great-grand father Billy says he practises during Karaoke sessions with friends and family. He has been singing for the past 70s years and his musical ability stems from his mother who used to play the piano and sing after the family dinner.

Billy sings everywhere; in the house, in the car and during our kopi sessions at Thompson Plaza. He tells me he even sings in the bathroom and before he goes to bed. During a group travel overseas, Billy sang using the microphone in the tourist bus. It was a trip heading to Beijing, China.  Most of the tourists in the bus loved Chinese pops so when he sang, I left my heart in San Francisco, I thought he would be in deep trouble. Instead the 35 strong group cheered and asked for more.  
When I asked Billy what he thought of today's pop scene he remarked, "Singers do not sing the evergreens like they should be sung.  Nowadays current singers interpret the composition in their own way and it becomes a totally new song. It's a personal opinion." Well Billy, I have heard his duets with some of today's pop stars.  They sound great actually.

Billy only printed about 10 copies of his CDs that come with the package. He has given them away except the one for himself. We cannot afford Tony Bennett to sing at our home parties but Billy is available if you need someone to croon evergreens. No charge actually. Just drive him to the venue and back. He would love to sing for you.

"Strangers in the night, Exchanging trousers, Love at first sight, What are the chances?" One of Billy's jokes!

Image: Google and Andy Lim Collection.


Anonymous said...

Yap. Agree with Andy's comments about Billy a pal for over 30 years since our teaching days. A jovial and easy going fella with a smooth, rich voice. May he stay healthy and continue to croon like Tony Bennett for a long time to come.

Andy Lim* said...

Thank you KM. Appreciate your confirmation of Billy's good voice and jovial ways.

Alexandra MacKay Binnie said...

Sinatra was a fan of Tony bennett, saying he was the greatest.

Andy Lim* said...

I have taken the liberty of picking a favourite of mine by Tony Bennett. It was one of so many by TB on You Tube and recorded by others too. But his of course, is the best.

Yes, if you listen to it "when the lights are low..." you can feel the vibes.

BILLY YAP said...

My favourite, "I Left My Heart..."


Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board
and I find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I hope to offer something again and aid others such as you helped me.

my web page :: magic chef microwave reviews mcd1110st

Andy Lim* said...

Thank you for visiting. I don't know if you're selling anything but it's good to hear you want to help others.