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IPA Hall of Fame Biography
New York City …. “Hi Polka Cuzzins!”
Walt Procanyn is an accordionist and bandleader who currently resides in Woodside, the Queens section of the big apple. Walt is well known throughout the big band and polka circle as a maverick and innovator. He has revolutionized the polka industry by incorporating the big band sound in what used to be “traditional” polka music.
He recorded several albums for arc international records in Toronto, Canada. He is exclusively for Eastwind International artists in New York City. He has recorded over 39 albums. His professional musical training and his Ukrainian and polish background has influenced his music. Walt said, ‘I always have a love for the lifting sounds of big band and polka music.”
In the U.S. Navy he was in the special service. He placed first in the all-navy talent contest by beating out several hundred ‘swabbies’. For many years the Walt Procanyn bandstand big band and polka show was heard in and around the Baltimore Washington area. Mr. Procanyn was booking many of the top-notch bands from around the country, as well as the big-name bands of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Sammy K, and Guy Lombardo at the Eastwind Million Dollar Ballroom in Baltimore. He was among a handful of people responsible for not only keeping the polka music alive, but as well as making it thrive.
Walt felt that the polka sound was failing to attract a new and younger audience. It was always his goal to record and present a new and bigger sound that would attract a new following. He thought that he could rejuvenate the polka sound. People in that industry, however, were less enthusiastic. They chuckled when he first mentioned the idea, but Mr. Procanyn is not easily dissuaded. And, like his name says, he works hard to achieve his goals! He reworked some traditional polkas with a big band sound, and then took his sound to the people. His Polka Cuzzins marveled at his new concept in sound.
Walt Procanyn speaks most fondly of a benefit that he and his band performed at the Zembo’s Shrine temple in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for the Childrens’ burn unit. Performing for charitable causes brings great joy and satisfaction to the Walt Procanyn Orchestra. Walt’s musical direction is by no means limited to just polka music though, he and his big band are quite prolific at playing popular big band sounds.
Today, Walt’s latest cd is ‘Music of your Life’ which according to DJ Greg Drust from Milwaukee, Wisconsin is “his best work yet”, and that “walt plays it as it was and tell it like it is”. Mr. Drust says, “music of your life” includes velvet sounds of the big band, stunning acapella vocals, powerhouse polkas, and lush instrumentals.” And, for the first time ever, he introduces you to the new sounds of his mariachi band. Plus “music of your life” is his most diverse album ever, including songs from mariachi, gospel, to ballads and traditional polka and big band sounds. It has something truly for everybody. No one plays big band and polka music any better.