Man of 1,000 songs brings extensive repertoire, multi-faceted talent, and six decades of entertainment history to the Schuster
When Neil Sedaka steps on the stage of the Schuster Center’s Mead Theatre Friday, October 7 at 8 pm to kick-off the DPO’s 2005-2006 BankOne SuperPops Series, he will also be kicking off his fifty-ninth year as a singer, songwriter, composer…and entertainment legend.
In 1962, Sedaka became an overnight success, when his song, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, ranked Number One and became the first Number One Record Grammy nomination for Best Rock and Roll Recording. In fact, his “overnight success” took him 15 of what we can properly describe as The Hungry Years.
At the age of eight, Sedaka had already begun his intensive classical piano training at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music, practicing up to five hours a day. He must have known he was Workin’ on a Groovy Thing, because – by the time he was sixteen, Artur Rubinstein voted him one of the finest classical pianists in New York City high schools!
In the four years between 1959 and 1963, the songwriting team of Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield sold over twenty-five million records, and their collaboration was to last for thirty years, one of the longest partnerships in music history. And breaking up was hard to do.
With over 1,000 songs to his credit, Sedaka might appear to be a bit of a machine, or a Puppet Man. If so, then it is his wife, Leba, who deftly pulls the strings. It is evident from the fact that Neil and Leba have been married for 42 years that most of his songs have a basis in his personal, emotional experience.
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Their relationship has been a form of Miracle Song. Yes, there have been hard times, but – in the midst of them – the Sedakas have enjoyed a lot of Laughter in the Rain.
Sedaka’s songs have become a part of peoples’ lives and can instantly take listeners back to special moments. As a result, they are classics unto themselves. Witness the fact that Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, re-released as a ballad in 1975, made music history when it reached #1 on the charts, becoming the first song recorded in two different versions by the same artist to reach the Top Ten.
With a career spanning six decades, a rare feat in the entertainment world, Sedaka never ceases to amaze. And he is still Bouncin’ All Over the World:
Neil recently filmed a guest appearance on the CBS hit sitcom The King of Queens.
After a record-breaking five-week engagement at the Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany this summer, Neil’s musical Breaking Up Is Hard To Do is set to open in January, 2006 at the Actor’s Playhouse in Coral Gables.
This past June 10, he received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame at the organization’s 35th annual induction and awards ceremony in New York.
The Sedakas have two children: daughter Dara is a recording artist and vocalist for television and radio commercials, and son Marc is a successful screenwriter in Los Angeles. Marc and his wife, Samantha, have given Neil and Leba three grandchildren – Amanda, Charlotte, and most recently (September 9, 2005) Ethan.
All of his musical experiences in the past 58 years have raised Sedaka to the status of a legend – a consummate musician, an extraordinary vocalist, and an ageless songwriting talent. As he has written: Love Will Keep Us Together. And it has proven to be true. Nothing or no one can ever separate the man from his true loves: his wife, his family, and his music.
Truly, breaking up is hard to do.