Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Sedaka reveals songbook secrets for Belfast fans

By Eddie McIlwaine

Published 15/04/2009

Hats off: Neil Sedaka plays Belfast's Waterfront Hall on June 18
Hats off: Neil Sedaka plays Belfast's Waterfront Hall on June 18

Legendary song man Neil Sedaka has revealed that he was inspired to write his greatest hit Solitaire by |another celebrated American entertainer — Roberta Flack.

He was listening to her singing the soaring soul ballad The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face at the time.

“I've never divulged this to anyone else before,” said the man who will be in Belfast in high summer to play the Waterfront on June 18.

“But there I was engrossed in the way she was performing that lovely song when suddenly the idea came to me for Solitaire.

“Roberta took me into a place, into the mood to write Solitaire. If it hadn't been for her it would never have happened.

“It's a song about a lonely man playing cards all by himself and dreaming and keeping going day after day with his game and his thoughts about a lost love.

“But it is definitely not about myself,” stressed the grandfather of three who has been married to Leba, mother of his son and daughter, for 45 years.

“I have had an extremely happy life and have just celebrated my 70th birthday on a cruise with the family all around me.

“So, if it hadn't been for Roberta and the quality of her way with The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Solitaire might never have been written at all about loneliness.”

Solitaire, one of the great songs of the 70s, was recorded by Andy Williams, The Carpenters, Johnny Mathis and Elvis among others.

Sedaka has been hailed as a man with two special God-given talents — one as a songwriter and the other as a performer.

By the time Neil gets to the Waterfront his new CD The Music Of My Life will be in the shops.

“It's a while since I was in Belfast, probably at your Ulster Hall,” added Sedaka. “I remember Belfast audiences for the way they like to sing along. I can assure them I will be doing all my favourite songs for them to join in once again.”

Tickets are now on sale for Neil Sedaka at the Waterfront box office 9033 4455 and at all the usual Wonderland agencies.

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