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Chance encounter yields evening with ‘ageless’ Tony Bennett

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I regularly capture the images of the Memphis Botanic Garden's "Live at the Garden" concert series. Last Sunday night (June 2), legendary singer of jazz, poplar music, standards and show tunes Tony Bennett performed before an almost sellout crowd.

I looked around to see if any African Americans were in the crowd. There were not many but among them was three generations of one family –Valerie Jackson-Collins; her mom, Velma H. Whitelo; and her son, Randall J. Jackson, who attends Georgetown College in Kentucky.

I asked Jackson-Collins what drew the family to hear the 86-year-old Tony Bennett in concert. She said the family was out having dinner when her mom had a chance exchange with a young man who invited her to attend the concert. Her mom reasoned that with Bennett getting up their in age, the concert was a historical event not to be missed.

Jackson-Collins lives in Eads, and her mom lives in Whitehaven. Randall Jackson plays football at Georgetown College.

So how was it to be up close and in position to watch and listen as a legend performed? Wonderful was the agreed upon description.

The concert was originally scheduled for Saturday but inclement weather pushed it back a day. Bennett – still strong of voice – radiated energy throughout the evening, singing hits such as "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," "Fly Me to the Moon" and "For Once in My Life."

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