Neil Sedaka at Pala

Published on November 27th, 2014

As he nears 60 years in the music business, Neil Sedaka knows the key to sticking around is being a master of diversity and reinvention.

“I’ve done the pop, classical, kids’ songs, Christmas, you name it. I’ve always strived to write different songs,” he said.

As a writer of such songs as “Where the Boys Are,” “Calendar Girl” and “Love Will Keep Us Together,” Sedaka – who performs Saturday at Pala Casino Spa & Resort – has seen his lyrical babies soar to the top of the charts. But it’s not just the songwriting; his vocal talents also have made him the tremendous success he is.

“The songs have been a vehicle for my voice, and it’s my voice that comes first,” he said. “I think I am underrated as a singer because even those bubblegum songs were not just simple tunes.”

Sedaka hit the music scene in the 1950s and carried through into the ’60s. There was a dry spell in the late ’60s as a recording artist, but then he was back in the big time in the early 1970s with the massive hits “Laughter in the Rain” and “Bad Blood.”

While he amassed a number of chart hits in the ’50s and ’60s as both an artist and songwriter, it was time to go in a new direction the following decade.

“It was thanks to Elton John who saw me perform and signed me to his label,” he said. “I changed lyricists because I wanted something more poetic, and that’s where ‘Solitaire’ and ‘Laughter in the Rain’ came from. It was the sisedakangers and songwriters period, and I wanted to be in competition with those writers.”

While he may slow down in terms of the number of live dates, Sedaka certainly is not slowing down in other areas, with the release of his record “The Real Neil.”

“I just wrote my first piano concerto, which is the last song on the new album,” he said. “I’ll be going over to England and perform it with the London Philharmonic. It really does stretch you musically to do something like that. It certainly embellishes the ballads.”

And he still loves the immediate adrenaline rush being onstage provides.

“People come up to me and they tell me they grew up with the songs and it reminds them of who they were with, what they were doing. Of course, I do new things as well,” he said.

Some of those new things include a new Broadway play, a disco song and more classical music.

“I did a dance mix, ‘Beginning to Breathe Again,’ and I had a famous dance mixer working with me, and he thought it would be good as a disco record,” he said. “And the Broadway show about my life in New York will be starting up soon.”

But he’s still plugging away, still working on something new and different.

“The piano is my inspiration,” he said. “It asks me when I sit down at it, ‘How good are you, really?’”

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