Back at the Saban Theatre on Dec. 10 & 11
PAUL Anka refuses to rest on his laurels, even after over 50 years spent stealing the hearts of concertgoers around the world and writing hundreds of hits for a diverse collection of legendary musicians.
“If you’re really in this, you’re afraid to sit back at home and count your money,” Anka told the Asian Journal via telephone on Friday, December 2 ahead of two performances scheduled at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, California beginning on Saturday, December 10.
“Good is the enemy of great.”
Ever since he got his first big break at the age of 16 with his crooning 1957 chart topper, “Diana,” Anka has relentlessly pursued opportunity.
As a young performer and songwriter he learned the ins and outs of show business running with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Anka would go on to write what many would regard as the Ol’ Blue Eyes’s definitive song, “My Way.”
When John, Paul, Ringo, George and Beatlemania took over American airwaves in the ‘60s, Anka pursued fame by writing (in multiple languages) and performing in Europe and Asia. He recalled singing to packed audiences at Araneta Coliseum during his first performances in the Philippines in the late ‘50s.
“[Filipinos] embraced music differently than any other country in that region,” Anka told the Asian Journal. “The passion they’ve got stayed with me.”
As he matured, Anka would grow into a prolific songwriter, penning music for artists like Michael Jackson, Buddy Holly, Patti Labelle and Celine Dion. Since he last spoke with the Asian Journal in 2014, he has toured through Chilé and the U.S., completed recordings in Europe, and has been staying busy in the studio writing new material.
Lately, large portions of his time have become devoted to business ventures with companies like ARHT Media, a company developing technology that brings lifelike holograms onstage at live events. Anka said he looked forward to seeing those holograms implemented in his and other shows.
However, Anka intends to carry his performances at the Saban unassisted by next generation stagecraft.
The impact of technological advances, the emergence of viral celebrities and an increasingly direct link between consumers and artists haven’t gone unnoticed by the seasoned musician.
“The music business has changed,” said Anka. “It’s no longer going in and trying to force an album down a consumer’s throat.”
He said he’s been unfazed by the rapidly evolving nature of his industry. Anka feels driven by a passion for his craft that, he believes pushes, him to create music that genuinely connects with those he writes for as well as his own devoted fans.
“I own the space that I’m in [and] It’s just getting broader and broader.”
That passion will be center stage at his shows next week. Anka sings with minimal barriers to the audience, connecting with them emotionally and, oftentimes, physically. He said that, if he were allowed to, he’d put on a show for as many hours as people were willing to listen.
“That’s the only time I get away,” said the musician and entrepreneur. “There’s no phone calls, there’s nobody bothering me, I’m up there by myself, there’s nobody bustin’ my balls … it’s an amazing bubble that you land in that nothing and nobody can interrupt. I cherish that.”
He adds that none of this would be possible without his fans. The idea of becoming a part of their lives through music is what has fueled his ability to create and sustained his decades-long career.
“You have to have a passion for it. It can’t be forced. You can‘t wake up and think ‘oh god not this again,” Anka said.