Pop’s oldest teen keeps doing it his own way

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Juan-les-Pins (France) (AFP) – Paul Anka – the silky-voiced crooner who wrote evergreen classics like “She’s a Lady” and the lyrics to “My Way” – has been circling the neighborhood since landing his first world number one in 1957 .

But it took the Canadian 80 years to headline one of the best jazz festivals in the world alongside legends like George Benson, Gilberto Gil and Van Morrison.

“It’s going to be a thrill for me” to play at the Juan Jazz Festival on the French Riviera – which starts on Wednesday – Anka told AFP from her home in Los Angeles.

Indeed, the line-up is a gathering of pure jazz royalty, from Herbie Hancock to Diana Krall, Stacey Kent and Armenian pianist genius Tigran Hamasyan.

But Anka’s roots are pure pop, going straight to the top of the charts – as he was then called – with his debut hit, “Diana”, when he was just 16.

The song ushered in the star-studded era of Teeny Bopper, with Anka the first teenager to score a number one hit in Britain.

‘My path’

The song told of Anka’s unrequited love for an older woman who was ‘out of my league’ – Diana Ayoub was 19 at the time – and he used to pine for her after the spotted at her Orthodox church in Ottawa.

The son of Syrian and Lebanese immigrants, Anka grew up speaking French, which is how he came to write the English version of one of the most sung songs of the 20th century, “My Way”.

His rendition of the standard, originally recorded by French singer Claude François as “Comme d’habitu” became Frank Sinatra’s signature standard, as well as a hit for Elvis and Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols.

Trump’s refusal: singer Anka said no to the inauguration of the former American president Fabrice COFFRINI AFP/File

“I have a great history with France, with the French and music,” Anka said.

“I have to do some of the original hits that first took me to France as a young boy – ‘Diana’, ‘You Are My Destiny’ and ‘My Way’ of course,” he said. -he adds.

sorry trump

Anka was due to sing “My Way” during Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president in 2017 before stepping down, although he avoided saying whether he supported it.

“You have a better chance of getting a rooster sunrise on that one,” he said.

While his romantic standards such as “(You’re) Have My Baby” may be a bit cheesy to some, his songs and stardom have endured.

‘Put Your Head on My Shoulder’ inspired a viral TikTok challenge last year, and ‘She’s a Lady’ – which he also wrote – is one of Welsh singer Tom Jones’ greatest delights.

Anka also appeared on stage alongside Lisa in a 1995 episode of “The Simpsons” titled “Treehouse of Horror VI” in which he co-starred.

The singer was and still is friends with big names in French music and hinted that he would pay tribute to some of them during his show in Juan-les-Pins.

“You’ll see when I do my show… I was connected to all the French singers from (Charles) Aznavour, to Johnny Hallyday (“the French Elvis”), Gilbert Bécaud and Mireille Mathieu, for whom I wrote an album .

“One of my favorites was Michel Colombier”, a prolific composer of Hollywood films who “wrote a few albums with me”.

Anka said he wanted to “get a sense of the audience” before deciding what to play, even if there would be a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. “I can’t be selfish and do what I want for myself .

“I want to be eclectic…I don’t know if I’ll have time to sing anything from the new album, and I don’t know if anyone will be interested,” quipped the singer, who just recording a new TV special.

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