Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga Take It to the Classroom

Courtesy Interscope Geffen A&M Records

The superstars surprise students at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts on the last day of classes with discussion, performance.

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga thrilled more than 700 New York City students at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts on the last day of classes with a surprise appearance.

Founded by Tony Bennett in his hometown of Astoria, Queens, the school usually hosts the singer for graduation, but this year, due to his tour schedule, he was unable to attend. 

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Instead, he decided to do something special for the last day of classes, so he asked Lady Gaga to join him for a master class in the school’s Tony Bennett Concert Hall. Moderated by NBC’s Lester Holt, the two conversed onstage about a variety of subjects, including jazz, the Great American Songbook and creativity, while fielding questions from the students.

Bennett then performed the classic “The Very Thought of You,” followed by Lady Gaga’s rendition of “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” In a spontaneous and playful moment, the two began to serenade each other with the standard "I Can’t Give You Anything but Love." Gaga then added in a cheek-to-cheek slow dance. Several musicians have done master classes at FSSA in the past, including Billy Joel and Paul McCartney.

"When I first heard Gaga sing, my reaction was that she is going to be bigger than Elvis,” said Bennett. “She is so bright and intelligent and she has it. In jazz you either got it — the syncopation, the rhythm — or you don't, and when I heard Gaga I said, 'She's got it!' "

Gaga talked about what a wonderful experience she always has when she sings with Tony, enthusing: "When I am with Tony, I feel like I’m 15 years old at home listening to Ella and Coltrane records. The way he sings is effortless and so prolific. It’s so liberating to be able to sing jazz, especially at this point in my career!"

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In response to Tony's comment "these songs are so timeless," Gaga joked: "Like a good black dress, they never go out of style." 

The event ended with student choirs performing a rendition of Bennett’s “Smile” and Gaga’s “Applause.  

Gaga and Bennett first met when the two performed at the Robin Hood Foundation benefit gala in 2011. Lady Gaga joined Bennett for a duet of “The Lady Is a Tramp” for the latter's Duets II album. Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett are currently collaborating on a jazz album planned for release later this year.

FSSA was founded by Bennett, in association with the NYC Department of Education in 2001, as part of the singer’s efforts to support arts education in public schools. He and his wife, Susan Benedetto, also founded Exploring the Arts, which currently supports a total of 17 public high schools in NYC and Los Angeles.