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Pop Culture

An ode to the wholesome friendship between Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

The pop star credited Bennett, who died on July 21 at age 96, with making her fall in love with music again after nearly quitting.

tony bennett, tony bennett lady gag, tony bennett dies

An amazing music duo, sure. But also loving friends.

Few celebrity friendships are as wholesome as the one shared between Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. The icons would release two Grammy-winning, chart-topping albums together and perform two sold-out concerts at Radio City Music Hall, but they were much more than creative collaborators.

Bennett, who passed away on July 21 at age 96, previously told Parade that he first met Gaga, whom he lovingly called “Lady,” at a charity concert, where she performed the jazz standard "Orange Colored Sky".

Struck by how she could captivate a crowd, Bennett immediately went backstage to meet her (a huge and pleasant surprise, Gaga would recall) and suggested they do an album together, which would later be titled, “Cheek to Cheek.”


This interaction had a profound effect on the pop idol, who at the time had been disillusioned with the music industry and “didn’t even want to sing” anymore. But recording together reignited her passion.

"All of a sudden, I'm singing in the studio with Tony and my childhood is flashing before me. All of those moments singing Ella Fitzgerald, being in the jazz band in high school and jazz being my first love. It's been really exciting to revisit everything again and go back to my roots,” she told USA Today.

Because of that reaffirmation, Gaga credits the crooner for “saving her life.” According to People, she would even end up getting a tattoo of a trumpet, drawn by Bennett, “just so I would always remember this time together.”

The duo’s friendship would continue to deepen throughout the years. Gaga became an advocate for Alzheimer's after Bennett’s diagnosis in 2016. In an interview with 60 Minutes in 2022, she shared how “beautiful” and “challenging” it was to watch someone she cared about change, but at the same time have his talent be unaffected.

"When that music comes on ... something happens to him," she said. "He knows exactly what he’s doing. I think he really pushed through something to give the world the gift of knowing things can change and you can still be magnificent.”

Though Gaga hasn’t commented on Bennett’s death, her sentiments are likely akin to what she said of “Love For Sale,” their last album made together: “The celebration of jazz, and us as musical companions, will live on with me forever.”

Fueled by a deep love of music, Tony Bennett wholeheartedly shared the spotlight (and his infectious joy) with singers across virtually all genres, singing duets with everyone from Barbara Streisand to Paul McCartney to Amy Winehouse to John Legend. He even sang with country superstar Carrie Underwood.

Besides God-given talent, Bennett had a childlike spirit that brought out the best in others, and he will be missed.

All images provided by CARE & Cargill

The impact of the CARE and Cargill partnership goes beyond empowering cocoa farmers

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Cocoa, the key ingredient found in your favorite chocolate bar, has been a highly revered food product throughout human history. It’s been used for religious ceremonies in Peru, royal feasts in England and France, traded as currency for the ancient Mayans. And considering that many of us enjoy chocolate on a regular basis (mochas and candy bars, anyone?) it seems like that love is still going strong even today.

And if you are someone who looks forward to that sweet chocolate pick-me-up on a regular basis, you likely have the women of West Africa to thank.

Women like Barbara Sika Larweh, a mother of six who works as a cocoa farmer in Larwehkrom, a community located within the Sefwi Wiawso Municipality in the Western North Region of Ghana.

care, cargillMama Cash now empowers other women to gain independence

Nearly 60% of the world’s cocoa comes from both Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, where Barbara and other mothers make up over half of the labor force. These female cocoa farmers shoulder the same physical burden as their male counterparts—all while also running households and paying for their children to go to school. And yet, they typically don’t receive equal income. Nor do they have access to the resources that could help them achieve financial independence.

Thankfully, positive changes are taking place. Barbara’s story exemplifies the impact of programs offered by CARE and Cargill, such as Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), which are small groups that offer low-interest loans to individuals living in poverty, helping them to build savings without going into devastating debt.

Through these initiatives, women, like Barbara, are equipped with vital knowledge like financial literacy to improve household incomes, sustainable agriculture practices that improve yields, and nutrition education to diversify their family’s diets.

“They came and trained me on the VSLA. I dedicated myself and volunteered so that I would be able to train my people, too,” Barbara explains.

Within the first year of using the programs, Barbara and the people she trained profited—earning her the nickname of “Mama Cash.”

This is no isolated event. In cocoa-growing communities supported by CARE and Cargill programming between 2019-2022, the number of households living below the national poverty line decreased by nearly 32% in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana - as a direct result of increasing and diversifying income through using these programs.

Like Barbara, who today is an executive member of the Community Development Committee, more than 2.4 million women have used their success as entrepreneurs to transform into leaders and decision-makers within their communities. Whether it’s giving most of their earnings back to their families, reducing child labor, or exponentially increasing overall farm yields, the rippling effect is profound.

The impact of the CARE and Cargill partnership goes beyond empowering cocoa farmers. The joint initiatives have fostered progress on complex global issues related to social justice, such as gender equality, climate change, and food security. By improving access to quality nutrition, water, and hygiene, the joint programs have positively influenced the cocoa communities’ well-being.

Suddenly there’s a lot more to think about the next time you eat a candy bar.

Find out more about the important partnership between CARE and Cargill here.
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NPS/Kurt Moses (Public Domain)

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