Paul Anka returned to Winston-Salem in December of 2011 to perform once again with the Piedmont Wind Symphony. Held at the LJVM coliseum, the PWS reported a record crowd for the Holiday Concert event. Paul Anka entertained and amazed concert-goers as he serenaded his way through the audience. Throughout the performance, Anka sang, played guitar, piano and even took a turn at conducting the PWS!
Born in 1941 in Ottawa into a tight-knit Canadian family, Paul Anka didn’t waste much time getting his life in music started. He sang in the choir at church and studied piano. He honed his writing skills with journalism courses, even working for a spell at the Ottawa Citizen. By 13, he had his own vocal group, the Bobbysoxers. He performed at every amateur night he could get to in his mother’s car, unbeknownst to her, of course. Soon after, he won a trip to New York by winning a Campbell’s Soup contest for IGA Food Stores that required him to spend three months collecting soup can labels. It was there his dream was solidified, he was going to make it as a singer-composer, and there was not a doubt in his young tenacious mind.
Songwriting and performing “are what gave me the confidence to keep going,” Paul says. Becoming a junior associate of Sinatra and the Rat Pack also had its privileges. By the 70s, the success of “My Way” and a string of hits like “(You’re) Having My Baby”, confirmed his status as an icon of poular music. His later achievements as a recording artist included “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, Patti LaBelle, Tom Jones and daughter Anthea Anka. If this wasn’t enough, it was revealed upon its release in 2009, that Anka co-wrote Michael Jackson’s posthumous #1 worldwide hit, “This is it”, which has further cemented his place as one of the most prolific and versatile songwriters of any generation.