National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum

605 East 222nd Street
Euclid, OH 44123




Phone: 216-261-3263

Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA

Fax: 216-261-4134


Cilka enters the Hall of Fame in many facets of the polka world. Her contributions are as a singer, disc jockey, music director, recording artist, lyricist, and composer.


Cilka is equally at ease singing on television with Frankie Yankovic or at Carnegie Hall with the Cleveland Orchestra.


Her musical interests began with Anna Vadnal and the Slovenian Children's Chorus at Slovenian Workmen's Home in Cleveland in 1947 and continued at the Cleveland Institute of Music Opera Workshop. She pursued classical music after receiving a voice scholarship at the Cleveland Music School Settlement. At the same time Cecilia sang with the Glasbena Matica Slovenian Singing Society and with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus.


Cecilia's interest in Slovenian music was nurtured at home where her mom, Josephine Valencic, instilled in her children pride of nationality. On a visit to Slovenia in 1960, Cilka was the first American to appear on RTV Ljubljana television on the show "Pokazi Kaj Znas" (Show Your Talent). On her retum to Cleveland, she was asked to sing on local television's "Polka Varieties" and "Festival Five". She was among the first to sing the music of Avsenik in the States. She recorded her first album in Pittsburgh in 1966 with Sam Pugliano and Jake Derlink. Cilka's next two albums were with the Almars Orchestra on Delta International's polka label, and then a series of Cilka, Smooth as Cilka, Touch of Cilka, and Breakthrough, which brought a modern disco sound to polkas.


She hosted and produced the Slovenian Night Radio Show for ten years. Cilka has been striving to bring Slovenian music through polkas and waltzes to the largest possible American audiences. That is why she has translated more than 50 songs into English that have been recorded by some of the best polka bands. She wrote the lyrics for "The Wind Song", "Back Home to Pennsylvania", "Save the Last Dance", "Hey, Prijatelj, Means My Buddy", "Roses of Love", and "Friends Polka". She has also written a dozen original polkas.


With the hope of preserving Slovenian music in the U.S., Cilka has been teaching hundreds of children in the Slovenian Junior Chorus SNPJ Circle 2 for 25 years as director of the singers, taking them on tour to Slovenia, EPCOT Center, and cities in the U.S. and Canada. Some of the polka musicians who sang in the chorus are Christine Mihelich, Kathy Hlad, Billy Novak, Phil Srnick, Ed and Chuck Sumrada, Joey Tomsick, and Nancy Hlad.


She initiated the Super Button Box Bash in 1983, showcasing dozens of the best button accordion groups, with audiences of 1,000 people. Cilka arranged 42 popular Slovenian follk songs into two songbooks.


Back For history's sake, Cilka edited the United Slovenian Society's Slovenian National Directory of 1,200 Slovenian organizations of the U.S., including polka bands and polka radio shows.


In 1975 she was honored as Slovenian of the Year, youngest woman chosen.


Inducted in 1990  

National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame


Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient




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