Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

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Ostanek, Walter

Walter Ostanek, "Canada's Polka King," is not a monarch who is content to rest on his laurels. Instead, Walter's every action demonstrates a belief that the title carries with it a major responsibility which he takes very seriously. Based in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, Walter has worked tirelessly for thirty-one years to promote Slovenian Cleveland- Style Polkas and Waltzes across the entire North American continent and abroad.
Perfecting his skills during a musical childhood, Walter formed the Walter Ostenak Band in 1957, taking his inspiration from Frank Yankovic. Over the last thirty-one years, Walter has embellished upon the basic Cleveland-Style with his own "Country and Western" flavor while paying respect to all the many dimensions various artists have added to Cleveland-Style music.

A tribute to this polka "ecumenism," Walter's newly released two volume set, "Polka-Stalgia," captures the Ostanek band working individually with a virtual Who's Who of Cleveland-Style Polka artists. Likewise, through his "Hands Across the Border" series, Walter has established a long history of incorporating famous Cleveland-Style artists, both leaders and sidemen, on his recordings. (Note: A portion of the proceeds from all sales of "Polka-Stalgia" will go to the American-Slovenian Polka Foundation and National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame.) Among Walter's most popular recordings on the Arc, Marathon, Axe, Boot, CBS Canada, and World Renowned labels are the "Joanne Polka," "Lee and Ann's Polka," and "Play Me an Old Fashioned Waltz."

As an ambassador of Cleveland-Style Polkas and Waltzes, Walter has excelled. In addition to hosting his own television shows (the current one for fourteen consecutive years), radio shows (three currently), and polka tours, Walter has appeared on the "Johnny Carson Show," "Phil Donahue," "Tommy Hunter Show," and Cleveland's "Polka Varieties" as well as his own award-winning TV specials and telethons. He has also appeared in concert with Roy Clark, the Oakridge Boys, Ronnie Milsap, Ray Price, Mel Tillis, Brenda Lee, Slim Whitman, Tom T. Hall, T. G. Shepard, Tommy Hunter, Lawrence Welk, Myron Floren, and Frank Yankovic. Among the band's countless honors are 3 Grammy Awards and a Gold Record from Arc Recording Company.

Notwithstanding these accomplishments, Walter Ostanek remains relentless in his commitment to pleasing his audiences. All this is quite amazing for a fellow whose attitude still reflects the enthusiasm, humility,and dedication of an ambitious, awestruck youngster trying to break into the ranks.

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