Sedaka was born in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Mac Sedaka, was a taxi driver and a Sephardic Jew of Lebanese descent He grew up in Brighton Beach, which lies on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.Sedaka is a cousin of the late singer Eydie Gormé. He demonstrated musical aptitude in his second-grade choral class, and when his teacher sent a note home suggesting he take piano lessons, his mother took a part-time job in an Abraham & Straus department store for six months to pay for a second-hand upright. In 1947, he auditioned successfully for a piano scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music's Preparatory Division for Children, which he attended on Saturdays. His mother wanted him to become a renowned classical pianist such as the contemporary of the day, Van Cliburn, but Sedaka was discovering pop music. When Sedaka was 13, a neighbor heard him playing and introduced him to her 16-year-old son, Howard Greenfield, an aspiring poet and lyricist. They became two of the legendary Brill Building's composers.