Legendary crooner and unofficial Rat Pack member Paul Anka returns with Sessions, an all-new album of iconic American standards.
For Sessions, Paul Anka chose songs by some of his favorite contemporary songwriters including “Farewell, Angelina,” originally written and performed by Bob Dylan. There’s also the classic “It Was A Very Good Year,” written by his friend Ervin Drake and made a household favorite swan song by his close comrade, Frank Sinatra.
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, it was there that his dream to make it as a singer and composer was solidified. There was not a doubt in his young tenacious mind. 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 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." Costa was duly enthusiastic about the potential of the young singer and songwriter. The rapid and enormous success of “Diana,” his first number one hit, made him a star at the young age of 15. Soon Paul found himself traveling by bus with the top names of the day for the Cavalcade of Stars. 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, including the last song Holly ever recorded, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.” 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. Songwriting and performing “are what gave me the confidence to keep going,” he says.
In the early '60s, 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 4 million records there. In the late '60s, Anka wrote “My Way” for Sinatra and by the '70s, 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 include 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 Sinatra, Celine Dion, Tom Jones and daughter Anthea Anka. If this wasn’t enough, it was revealed upon its release in 2009 that Anka cowrote Michael Jackson’s posthumous number one worldwide hit, “This Is It,” which further cemented his place upon the most prolific and versatile songwriters of any generation.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Rock Swings and Classic Songs, My Way ingeniously featured songs originally created by some of the biggest rock performers of the day. Anka, of course, did the songs “his way.” Rock Swings went Top 10 in the UK, and was certified gold in the UK, France, and Canada, hit number two on Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums chart and went on to sell half a million units worldwide. In 2011, Anka released his first Christmas album in decades. Songs Of December features lush romantic versions of popular holiday songs like “Let It Snow,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” All were recorded with a full orchestra in the renowned Capitol studios. It’s a true holiday classic. 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 album Duets was released, featuring artists such as Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Tom Jones, Celine Dion, and Michael Bublé, who Anka was with from the start of his career as well as co-producer on his self-titled album in 2003. Duets provides a musical journey through the life and times of Paul Anka and includes heartfelt liner notes written by Anka himself as an introduction to the classic songs he and his collaborators have chosen. In 2014, Anka saw the release of another song he co-wrote with Michael Jackson, “Love Never Felt So Good,” off Jackson’s album Xscape. In 2018, Anka’s collaboration with Drake on the song “Don’t Matter To Me” was released on Drake’s Scorpion. The song alone had over 400 million downloads and reached the Top 10 of the Billboard charts. Most recently, In 2020, Anka wowed the judges and audiences alike during his time on the hit television competition show, The Masked Singer.