Born in Italy, but emigrating to Philadelphia when she was a child, Sylvia Bennett traveled a twisted path on her way to becoming a jazz singer. Her first taste of show business came through appearances on children's shows during the 1950's. She started singing professionally in 1976 after moving to Miami, doing cabaret and pop. She even released two disco records. After she earned some notoriety, Phyllis Diller, Jackie Mason and other headliners began to use her to open their acts when in Florida. She was content being a pop performer until she met Lionel Hampton, who told her she should be singing jazz. Recording with Hampton in 1985, Bennett worked with him at festivals and at the inaugurals of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Three jazz records resulted from Hampton's injunction to go jazz -- I Need a Man in 1988 for New York Music, Rainbows in the Sky in 1991 for her own company, Out of Sight Music, and Here's That Rainy Day for Bay Cities in 1992. Tenor man Boots Randolph joined her on the latter session. During the 1990's, Bennett has appeared at European jazz festivals, notably in Budapest and in Amsterdam. Citing such diverse influences as Barbra Streisand and Nancy Wilson, Bennett possesses a clear soprano voice, is at ease with both ballads and up tempo tunes and takes an occasional fling with the blues.
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