Anka at 19 – The Workshop
In 1960, at the age of 15, a Canadian songwriter began working professionally as a stage performer. By the time he turned 18 he’d become the youngest singer ever to play all of the major music clubs across the United States. His name was Paul Anka, the songwriter who would later compose the classic lyrics for Frank Sinatra’s signature song, “My Way,” among many other hits.
To this day Anka is a major international touring artist. In 2007 he performed in Saskatoon, where, according to a local talent agent, he gave a “perfect” two-hour show, no intermission. He pays his musicians extra to play without a break, just to keep the show going; he understands the importance of momentum. Wish I could have been there!
Anka’s career has been sustained for more than forty years, largely because he has always been an extremely intelligent, self-aware individual. This fact is borne out in a National Film Board documentary produced in 1965. It’s this short, provocative film I use as the catalyst for a performance workshop called Anka at 19. We see clearly how he was a driven, ambitious businessman from age 14. But more importantly, from numerous things he says and does we see a genius performer at work. A genius in his teens, let’s remember. He articulates perfectly what he’s doing on stage to engage his audience, which at the time was mostly young and female. He’s well aware of his sexual appeal and which kinds of theatrical gestures and movements contribute to improving his stage presence and selling the song. He understands his audience.
This two-hour workshop is a wonderful way to introduce young people, or emerging musicians, to fundamental ideas about being a performer. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at what makes one particular music star tick, and how he connects masterfully with his audience.
For more details about the Anka at 19 workshop, please contact me directly.