Neil Sedaka Appears at Strathmore (Video)
Singer, songwriter, composer and pianist Niel Sedaka performs May 16 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Sedaka’s career spans more than fifty years and his hits include “Calendar Girl,” “Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen,” “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” and many dozens more. Tickets start at $45 and are available by phone at 301.581.5100 or online at Strathmore website.
Classically trained, it was an introduction to Sedaka’s neighbor Howard Greenfield that began one of the most prolific songwriting partnerships of the last half-century and launched Sedaka into music. The duo’s projects sold 40 million records from 1959-1963. Sedaka and Greenfield became one of the originators of the “Brill Building” sound in the late ’50s and early ’60s.
Sedaka catapulted to stardom after Connie Francis recorded his “Stupid Cupid.” She then sang the theme song Sedaka and Greenfield had written for the spring break classic, Where the Boys Are. Rhythm and blues stars Clyde McPhatter and LaVern Baker also scored hits with his songs. As a result, Sedaka signed a contract with RCA as a writer and performer of his own material, recording the 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.” He also went on to write songs for Frank Sinatra (“The Hungry Years”), Elvis Presley (“Solitaire”), Tom Jones (“Puppet Man”), The Monkees (“When Love Comes Knocking At Your Door”), and The Fifth Dimension (“Workin’ on a Groovy Thing”).
Neil’s journey continued in the UK with the release of his album Emergence in 1972. It was Elton John who decided to sign Neil to his Rocket Records label and reintroduce Neil to American audiences. The two albums he recorded for Rocket,Sedaka’s Back and The Hungry Years, were both top sellers. Rolling Stonemagazine hailed Sedaka as “the new phenomenon.”
Sedaka also helped launch the career of Captain and Tennille with their version of his “Love Will Keep Us Together,” which won a Grammy for Record of the Year.
The accolades showered on Sedaka have been numerous, and include being inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, having a street named after him in his hometown of Brooklyn, being given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and receiving the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame.
A tribute at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center was thrown for Sedaka in 2007 to celebrate his 50th year in music, with performances by Connie Francis, Dion, Paul Shaffer, Natalie Cole, Clay Aiken, Renee Olstead, and Captain and Tennille.
Inspired by his grandchildren, Sedaka released Waking Up is Hard to Do, a collection of hits that have been reinvented as children’s songs. Since the release of the CD, Imagine Publishing has begun releasing a series of books based on these songs—Waking Up Is Hard to Do and Dinosaur Pet.
Neil has returned to his classical roots, composing his first symphonic piece, “Joie De Vivre,” and his first piano concerto, “Manhattan Intermezzo,” featured on the new release The Real Neil.
Laughter in the Rain, the critically acclaimed musical that chronicles Neil’s rise, fall, and rise again, just concluded its tour through the United Kingdom.
Neil Sedaka performing Breaking Up is Hard to Do: