The legendary singer Tony Bennett has been living with Alzheimer's in recent years. Last night I watched an incredible piece on "60 Minutes" about Tony as he prepared to play his final shows at Radio City Music Hall.
Music is an unparalleled activator for Tony. Being a performer and true professional is so hard-wired into his brain that it is a sight to behold when the curtain rises and he is on stage, in his element.
What's more is Tony is not relying on replicating notes verbatim from sheet music. As a Jazz singer, he is adding nuance, variation, and improvisation in every performance. Tony's neurologist Dr. Gayatri Devi states, "Even though he doesn't know what the day might be or where his apartment is, he still can sing the whole repertoire of the American songbook and move people."
When asked how music stimulates the brain, Dr. Devi responds, "music engages multiple parts of the brain. There's the auditory cortex for hearing. There's the part of the brain that deals with movement and dance. There's the visual system that gets engaged, so it's kind of like a whole brain activator."
I've included the entire segment above. There's a moment on stage with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga that really moved me, but I won't spoil it.