Making music, the joy of reading and dinosaur pets
By Karen Jones
Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Neil Sedaka has been writing and performing hit music for over 50 years. A classically trained musician who embraced Rock and Pop in the late 1950s, he soared to the top with Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Oh! Carol, and Calendar Girl. He has written over 1000 songs, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been honored with the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sedaka shows no signs of slowing down and remains immersed in creative and charitable projects. He is also a devoted family man in a business that is not known for being family-friendly. He has been married to his wife Leba for 50 years and they have two children and three grandchildren.
He says his grandchildren enjoyed listening to some of his old hits so much he decided to reinvent them as children’s songs and children’s books. The first release was Waking Up is Hard to Do, inspired by Breaking Up is Hard to Do, followed by this year’s Dinosaur Pet inspired by Calendar Girl. Both are from Imagine Publishing. Dinosaur Petis packaged with a three-song CD performed by Sedaka.
Author Access: What would you like young readers to learn from Dinosaur Pet?
Neil Sedaka: I would like them to learn the love of reading, and for that love to continue throughout their education and lives. I was not a good reader in school. My passion was music and I was studying piano at Julliard when I was nine. But I know the immense value of reading and am delighted to see the enthusiasm for it in my grandchildren. I hope the music CD included with my book instills in children the marriage of listening and reading along with the written word.
AA: How important is it for children to be exposed to music at an early age?
NS: Every young child should take up an instrument. Music makes children much more well-rounded. If they can play in a school band or orchestra, they learn how to work in unison to produce something wonderful. It’s also very therapeutic to play music on your own and listen to it on your own. It’s a great muse for life.
AA: What do you think is the secret for success in the arts?
NS: Being in the right place at the right time–but you need to be ready for when the moment happens so do your work and be prepared. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and fell in love with the Doo-Wop street sound of the 1950s. I quickly formed a group and started a very different music career path then my classical roots. But I had the training and I was ready to seize the opportunity. You should always be developing and trying to reinvent yourself as an artist, which I do to this day.
AA: Are there any upcoming projects you would like to discuss?
NS: Yes! I will be performing my first symphony Joie De Vivre, and my first piano concerto Manhattan Intermezzo at The Royal Albert Hall in London on October 17th 2012. In addition, there is a play about my life entitled “Laughter in the Rain” that will be launched in London’s West End by the end of 2012. It’s a very exciting time.
All Photos: Courtesy of Neil Sedaka Music.