RAHWAY – Legendary musician Neil Sedaka will perform at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 26. Ticket prices range from $57-$87.
With a career spanning six decades, a rare feat in the entertainment world, Sedaka never ceases to amaze. He has written a new collection of songs for the recent release, “The Show Goes On.” Sedaka has been working on numerous other projects, everything from a CD with demos from the beginning of his career to an 8-CD box set.
On April 29 last year, Sedaka won over a whole new generation of fans when he appeared as a guest judge on the Fox Network’s “American Idol.” The response from viewers from as young as pre-teens and teenagers to fans who go back with Sedaka when he was a teen idol has been phenomenal.
Sedaka’s songs are back on the Billboard charts, making this the sixth straight decade that he has made the charts. Clay Aiken’s version of “Solitaire” reached #4 on the Hot 100 Singles chart, and has been one of the Top Selling Singles for twelve straight weeks. Renee Olstead’s self-titled CD, which includes her duet on “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” with jazz pianist and singer Peter Cincotti, debuted at #4 on the Top Jazz Album chart after the album’s release on May 25.
It is hard to imagine the history of rock and roll without the many contributions of Neil Sedaka. For over four decades, Sedaka’s timeless standards have helped change the face of popular music. With countless hit singles, and platinum and gold records, he is recognized as one of rock and pop music’s legendary pioneers, and remains as vital a force today as he was when he first achieved his string of hits back in the late 1950s. But his meteoric rise to success began even before that.
It was classical music that shaped the musicianship of the young Neil Sedaka. At the age of eight, he had already begun his intensive classical piano training at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music, practicing up to five hours a day. And by the time Sedaka was 16, Artur Rubinstein voted him one of the finest classical pianists in New York City high schools. Classical music has always remained a passion for Sedaka, and though he once considered earning a doctorate in the field, it was not where he chose to forge his legend.
Since his classmates were listening to pop and rock and roll playing on the radio, and being eager to gain the acceptance of his peers, Sedaka began to play the latest music at parties. He formed a doo-wop group in high school, the Tokens, and they recorded two singles that became regional hits. Greater success was soon to follow, when after having been introduced to a young neighbor, Howard Greenfield, they began a successful songwriting partnership. As Sedaka has noted, “for a long period of time, we wrote a song a day.” While some songs never made it out of the house, many others made their way around the world. In the four years between 1959 and 1963, the songwriting team sold over 25 million records and their collaboration was to last for 30 years, one of the longest partnerships in music history.
Sedaka and Greenfield became one of the original creators of the “Brill Building Sound” in the late fifties and early sixties when they were the first to sign with Don Kirshner and Al Nevins at Aldon Music. Not long after, Kirshner and Nevins signed songwriters Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Paul Simon, among others, and they became the center of the pop music world. They worked in a competitive but communal environment, producing the innocent, romantic anthems of the era that would dominate the music charts.
It was in 1958, at the age of 18, when Sedaka was catapulted into stardom after Connie Francis recorded his “Stupid Cupid.” She then sang the theme song Neil and Howie had written for the 1960 MGM spring break classic, “Where the Boys Are,” which would be her biggest hit. Rhythm and blues stars Clyde McPhatter and LaVern Baker also scored hits with his songs. As a result of these hits, Sedaka was able to sign a contract with RCA as a writer and performer of his own material. Sedaka soon recorded chart toppers “The Diary,” “Oh! Carol,” ” Stairway to Heaven,” “Calendar Girl,” “Little Devil,” “Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen,” “Next Door To An Angel,” and “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” songs that have become a part of peoples’ lives and can instantly take listeners back to special moments.
Sedaka had become a “Teen Idol” and flew around the world as one of the youngest performers to tour extensively. He studied the styles of music that had reached the top of the charts in other countries, and innovatively combined these styles with classical and pop music. His music became distinguished for a unique recording style involving multi-tracking his own voice to achieve a rich sound. But all of this was merely the first act in a career that has not ceased to evolve and entertain.
The Union County Performing Arts Center is located at 1601 Irving Street. To purchase tickets, call the box office at 732-499-8226 or visit www.ucpac.org.
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