I’m performing in one of Rome’s cutest jazz clubs in the lovely area Monti, as I find myself extensively introducing Angel Eyes. It lends itself perfectly to be sung in a cafe. And blah blah blah. And how convenient this place is. “And hey, look, there’s the bar. Cheers!”

As I raise my glass of wine, I think…. “ Am I making a fool of myself here?”

Then I turn round and see my drummer Valerio raising his glass of beer as we simultaneously bring a salute to all the boys and girls who loved and were left heartbroken. THANK you, Valerio! You just saved me from an era of embarrassment.

Yes, spontaneous mind bulbs can be glorious, but sometimes you just have to try them at home first. There’s no business like show business…

Speaking of show business. I simply love Tony Bennett for that. There’s so much to be learned when you hear him sing, and there’s lots to be learned when he tells the story of how he got his performer’s name.

Anthony Dominick Benedetto was economized by comedian Bob Hope, as simple as that.

(Thank you, Bob, thank you, Tony. Now I’m having doubts again about Huizinga. I knooooow! Make a choice! Stick to it! Keep your lane.)

The seemingly effortless way in which Tony chats with his audience is inspiring. That is exactly what you could be doing when you talk to your audience. Imagine you are entertaining your own crowd at a dinner party. (Three can be a crowd, certainly.)

Do you fear to have nothing to say at your own dinner party? Hardly, I guess. Well, only perhaps if Albert Einstein would be among your guests. You’ll wish you paid more attention at maths. Or is it just me?

Tony Bennett works with scripted events, I dare say. The moments that he addresses his audience are carefully chosen. You could do the same thing. Choose some moments in your set and think of what you want to share.

Do a little research on the background of the composer, your lyrics, find a personal connection, find a universal connection…

And, here’s my biggest tip: try this at home. Speak your words out loud. Record them and see if it works for you. You could just save yourself from historical, awkward moments.


Ilse Huizinga

My album tip for you:

MTV Unplugged, Columbia, 1994

Tony Bennett on Wikipedia: