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Two Music Legends Headed to Charlotte!

May 19, 2015

It’s not every day that a music legend performs in your city. We recently announced that two of music’s most legendary living artists will be performing in Charlotte later this year. Each respected and reputable in very different ways, country music singer and songwriter Merle Haggard comes to Belk Theater this summer, and classic crooner Tony Bennett plays Ovens Auditorium this fall.

merle300Country music legend Merle Haggard is often called “the poet of the common man.” It’s a tribute to his incredible success and to the lasting mark he has made, not just on country music, but on American music as a whole.

The term imposes an aura of loftiness that’s totally at odds with the grit and heart of Haggard’s songs. “I’d be more comfortable with something like ‘professor,’ ” he once told a reporter, and the description suits him. Studying and observing life around him, Haggard relays what he sees, hears and feels through his songs. The lyrics are simple, the music is exceptionally listenable. Others who have lived through those same situations recognize the truth in the stories he tells. But Haggard’s real gift is that anyone who hears his songs recognizes the truth in them.

When a Merle Haggard song plays, it can make an innocent-as-apple-pie grandma understand the stark loneliness and self-loathing of a prisoner on death row; a rich kid who never wanted for any material possession get a feel for the pain of wondering where the next meal will come from; a tee-totaling pillar of the community sympathize with the poor heartbroken guy downing shots at the local bar.

As a result, Haggard found his songs at the top of the charts on a regular basis. Immediately embraced by country fans, he also earned the respect of his peers. In addition to the 40 No. 1 hits included here, Haggard charted scores of Top 10 songs. He won just about every music award imaginable, both as a performer and as a songwriter, and in 1994 was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Merle Haggard performs in Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, June 30, at 7:30 p.m. Get tickets and more info.

TonyBennett_300With millions of records sold worldwide and platinum and gold albums to his credit, Tony Bennett has received 18 Grammy Awards—including a 1995 Grammy for Record of the Year for his “MTV Unplugged” CD, which introduced this American master to a whole new generation—and the Grammy Lifetime Award. His initial successes came via a string of Columbia singles in the early 1950’s, including  “Because of You,” “Rags to Riches,” and a remake of Hank Williams “Cold, Cold Heart,” proving that Bennett has dabbled in country music himself.

He had 24 songs in the Top 40, including “I Wanna Be Around,” “The Good Life,” “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)” and his signature song, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” which garnered him two Grammy Awards. Bennett is one of a handful of artists to have new albums charting in every decade since the 50’s. He has introduced a multitude of songs into the Great American Songbook that have since become standards for pop music. He was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2005.

In celebration of his 85th birthday in 2011, the release of Bennett’s highly anticipated “Duets II” featured Tony performing with a new roster of celebrated artists including the late Amy Winehouse (her last recording was their duet of “Body and Soul”), Michael Bublé, Aretha Franklin, and many others. 2014 saw the release of his collaboration with Lady Gaga titled “Cheek to Cheek,” proving that Bennett’s voice knows no generation boundaries. He beat his own record when, at age 88, the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Album charts.

Tony Bennett performs at Ovens Auditorium on Saturday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m. Ticket are selling fast, so don’t wait. Get tickets and more info.

We hope to see you in the theater as we celebrate these two living legends! For a full list of upcoming concerts, click here.

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