LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tony Bennett performed on the very first Grammy Awards, and as he returns for the 54th show this Sunday, the singer says it never gets old.
"I've been on every single one that we've had through the years," Bennett said Friday after rehearsing a duet with Carrie Underwood. "And what I love about it ... this is the only place where all the performers get together in one weekend, and it's so great to see old friends and new guys that are coming up."
The 85-year-old entertainer said he knows most of the artists, "and the new ones, I'm interested in."
He and Underwood are set to perform the 1924 classic "It Had to Be You." Underwood, 28, called Bennett "America's most enduring artist."
Indeed, Bennett will be celebrated for his own classic song, the 50-year-old hit "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," in the City by the Bay next week.
After running through their Grammy performance three times, Bennett told Underwood, "It was beautiful singing with you."
"She's beautiful and she sings great and she's so popular," he said as he came off stage. "It's just a wonderful experience to be on the show."
The pair is also set to present the award for best new artist. Up for the honor are The Band Perry, Bon Iver, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj and Skrillex.
Grammy Awards Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich said it's great seeing Bennett — his longtime friend and a 15-time Grammy winner — on the stage. The producer is proud of all the show's performers, which include Bruno Mars, Chris Brown, Katy Perry and Adele, and he's especially excited about the opening number: Bruce Springsteen's new song "We Take Care of Our Own."
"It's a remarkable song. It's a song we need to hear," Ehrlich said. "It's because of what's going on in this country: Politically, the economy, internationally. This guy, he's the conscience of this country.
"I really believe that the 11,000 people here, many of whom are involved in the music industry, will be proud of who they are and what they do, and hopefully 25 million people at home, too," he continued. "At its best, that's what music can do for us."
The Grammys will be presented Sunday at Staples Center and broadcast live on CBS.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at http://www.twitter.com/APSandy .