(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The newly renovated State Theatre New Jersey presents Paul Anka in Anka Sings Sinatra: His Songs, My Songs, My Way on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 at 8:00pm. This unique and highly anticipated tour will feature Paul Anka paying tribute to his friend, one of the greatest entertainers ever to take the stage: Frank Sinatra.
“The Anka Sings Sinatra tour will honor a great artist who has influenced me more than anyone else throughout my career, Frank Sinatra,” said Anka. “This show will also feature the hits that have spanned my career on this 65th anniversary year. It will be a night filled with his songs, my songs, my way!”
In 2021, Anka released a new album called Making Memories, a brand-new collection of reimagined classics and new recordings. Making Memories features a duet with Olivia Newton-John but, also a newly reimagined version of his 1957 hit, “You Are My Destiny,” which Anka performs with the multi-national classical crossover vocal group Il Divo.
Born July 30, 1941, in Ottawa, Canada, into a close-knit family, Paul Anka didn’t waste time getting his life in music started. From an early age he sang in a choir, studied piano, and honed his writing skills with journalism courses, even working as a cub reporter at the Ottawa Citizen. By 13, he had his own vocal group, the Bobbysoxers. Blinded by determination, he would take his mother’s car and drive to perform at every amateur night he could across the river in Quebec. Soon after, he won a trip to New York by winning a Campbell’s soup contest that required him to spend three months collecting soup can labels. After visiting the music hub of New York, was there that his dream to make it as a singer composer was solidified.
In 1956, he convinced his parents to let him travel to Los Angeles to visit his uncle, where he hitchhiked to a meeting with Modern Records that led to the release of Anka’s first single, “Blau-Wile Deveest Fontaine.” The inspiration for the song came from a book he was reading for a report he had to write for Fisher Park school by the former Governor General of Canada, John Buchan. Although it was not a hit, Anka kept plugging away. He went so far as to sneak into Fats Domino’s dressing room in Ottawa to meet him and his manager. In the dressing room, Fats Domino and Chuck Berry were sitting there and Anka sang his music to them. They told him to stay in school. When Anka returned to New York in 1957, he scored a meeting with Don Costa, the A&R representative for ABC-Paramount Records, playing him a batch of songs that included “Diana.” The rapid and enormous success of “Diana,” his first number one hit, made him a star at the young age of 15.
Soon Anka found himself traveling by bus with the ‘Cavalcade of Stars’ with the top names of the day. He honed his craft surrounded by the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Frankie Lymon, and Chuck Berry. Anka was the youngest entertainer to ever perform at the Copacabana.
After a few hit songs, Anka confident in his talent as a writer wisely knew that being a songwriter meant the power was in the pen. As a result, he went on to write for Connie Francis, Leslie Gore, and Buddy Holly. Other hit songs include the Academy Award-nominated theme for the 1962 film in which he starred, The Longest Day. He notably penned the longest running theme in television history for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
In the early 60’s, he became a junior associate of Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Even with the British invasion, Anka still had chart records. He moved to Italy and outsold the Italians, selling an astonishing four million records there. In the late 60’s, Anka wrote “My Way” for Frank Sinatra and by the 70’s, he had another string of hits like “(You’re) Having My Baby,” “Don’t Like To Sleep Alone,” and “Times Of Your Life,” which confirmed his status as an icon of popular music.
His later achievements as a recording artist included the charted song, “Hold Me ‘Til the Morning Comes,” a hit duet with Peter Cetera in 1983, the Spanish-language album Amigos in 1996, and Body of Work, a 1998 duets album that featured Frank Sinatra, Celine Dion, Tom Jones, and daughter Anthea Anka.
In April 2013, Anka released his New York Times bestselling autobiography, My Way. This autobiography is a remarkable story of a decades-long career as an entertainer, actor, and songwriter. During the same time, his new 14-song album entitled Duets was released and featured artists such as Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Tom Jones, Celine Dion, and Michael Bublé. Duets set a milestone in Billboard chart history and Anka became the only artist to have a CD on the Billboard Top 100 Chart for seven consecutive decades.
Tickets range from $45-$95. For tickets, more information, or group discounts, call State Theatre Guest Services at 732-246-SHOW (7469) or visit online at STNJ.org. State Theatre Guest Services, located at 15 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick NJ, is open by phone and email only, Tuesday through Friday from 11:00am to 5:00pm. For in-person purchases, Guest Services is open Tuesday through Friday from 12:00pm to 4:30pm. Additional ticket and transaction fees may apply.
After major renovations, State Theatre New Jersey has reopened and celebrated its 100th Anniversary in December 2021 in a fully renovated theater including newly renovated lobbies, all new restrooms, upgraded HVAC systems, a new elevator for access to all levels, and brand-new theater seats. Originally built as a silent film and vaudeville palace, State Theatre’s historic significance was honored by PBS by featuring it in its documentary series, Treasures of New Jersey, in the fall of 2018. “Treasures of New Jersey: State Theatre New Jersey” can be streamed online.
Today, State Theatre is the largest performing arts center in Central New Jersey and has welcomed more than six million people through its doors since reopening as a non-profit performing arts center in 1988. State Theatre New Jersey is a cornerstone of the cultural vitality of Middlesex County and averages a total economic impact on New Brunswick and the surrounding area of more than $18 million a year. The mainstage programs have featured high-caliber artists such as Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, Kevin Hart, Ringo Starr, Melissa Etheridge, John Leguizamo, Harry Connick, Jr., Diana Krall, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Program offerings include Broadway, orchestra, family, dance, comedy, rock/pop, jazz, Performances for Schools, and Sensory-Friendly Performances.
State Theatre New Jersey’s programs are made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Grant funding has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners through a grant award from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund.