Although talent TV shows seem to grow in popularity yearly and are even globally licensed, gaining country-specific versions, not all participants stay in the spotlight. Although talent is crucial, charisma and standing out from the crowd play a pivotal role. It’s not unusual that even those who fail to win remain in audiences’ minds and build successful careers. One of those is Sal Valentinetti, a charming “America’s Got Talent” finalist. If you are wondering where Sal Valentinetti is today, we have you covered.
- 1 How did Sal come to prominence?
- 2 How Sal became a singer and musician?
- 3 “America’s Got Talent” is ‘ot Sal’s first TV show audition try-out
- 4 Sal at the first “AGT” live audition
- 5 Going to Quarterfinals
- 6 Journey to the Finals of AGT
- 7 Sal competes in “AGT” finale, and comes back for “America’s Got Talent: The Champions”
- 8 Sal’s album releases
- 9 Private and family life
- 10 Public appearances and charity promotions
- 11 Meeting celebrities
- 12 Business promotions
- 13 Cars and sports
- 14 Funny personality and quotes
- 15 Conclusion
How did Sal come to prominence?
Sal took the stage during Season 11 of “America’s Got Talent”, a TV show that premiered on 31 May 2016. He charmed everyone with his soulful jazz voice, first singing the legendary Frank Sinatra song, “My Way”, with the judges impressed by his rendition – Heidi Klum, one of the judges, was so smitten by his voice and charisma that she pressed the prestigious Golden Buzzer, sending Sal straight to the Live Shows.
We will delve into that and more as we cover Sal’s journey from a pizza delivery guy to a star known as “Sal the Voice”. To put your mind at ease for now, Sal continues to do what he loves the most, singing at private and public events, and is even a recording artist. Let’s get into it.
How Sal became a singer and musician?
Sal Valentinetti, born on 26 August 1995, is a “100% Italian” (according to his Instagram bio) singer and performer, although he prefers the term “entertainer”. He rose to prominence in Season 11 of “America’s Got Talent” when he ended in 5th place. However, he didn’t always know his potential, and only competed in the show at age 20. Sal only realized how gifted he wasin his mid-teens, after a reputable person pointed it out.
During a horn lesson when he was 15, a well-known Long Island private music teacher and performer, Dr. Joseph Merkel, discovered his talent. During one lesson, Dr. Merkel requested that Sal pick a song to play. To his surprise, Sal began belting out the lyrics to “Mack the Knife”, a well-known Bobby Darin tune; it turned out to be a song he loved to listen to with his Italian grandmother. After seeing how promising his talent was, the music teacher encouraged Sal to pick up singing lessons and start playing brass, which he did. That event marked the humble beginnings of an upcoming superstar who, in our opinion, has yet to attract the global recognition he deserves.
“America’s Got Talent” is ‘ot Sal’s first TV show audition try-out
Before he appeared on “AGT”, Sal Valentinetti tried out for another renowned singing TV competition show, “American Idol”. He attempted to appear on TV during Season 14, which premiered on 7 January 2015, and passed the off-screen auditions stage, but unfortunately never made it to the live shows. Hence, many fans who have only seen him on TV or YouTube are unaware of this.
Sal at the first “AGT” live audition
The appearance most people recognize Sal Valentinetti from is the Episode 1103 audition of Season 11 of America’s Got Talent. He confidently walked on stage as contestant number 1114315, and introduced the entourage he’d brought—three aunts, his mother and two cousins, Big Time Tommie and Tommy Trance. He confirmed that “up until a few years ago, he barely sang ‘Happy Birthday’ out loud” and that his parents would call him out when he sang in the shower for wasting money.
Sal revealed that he delivers pizzas for his cousin’s pizza place in Bethpage, New York. When asked about his goals, he revealed that he always liked Dean Martin-style roasts, and wants to aid their return. Additionally, Sal revealed that his love for that particular type of music comes from his grandmother’s music collection – after she passed away, the music they listened to was what he remembered her by. Before he was given the “go!” signal, Sal asked Mel, “How you doin’?” His inflection made it clear that it was a quote from Joey Tribbiani, a “Friends” TV show character played by Matt LeBlanc. Shortly afterwards, Sal began his captivating performance of Frank Sinatra’s iconic song“My Way”.
Going to Quarterfinals
Simon Cowell was impressed with his first audition, saying “If you want to sing this kind of music, you can’t fake it. It’s either in you or it’s not, and you’re an old soul. And I’m guessing right now your grandmother is looking down on you and saying, ‘Yeah, he did it his way!’ Mel B and Howie Mandel gave him a “yes” too, praising the power, control and tone of his voice, calling his singing “flawless”.
I'm doing it my way tonight at 8/7c on #AGT #SalTheVoice #LiveShows
Posted by Sal "The Voice" Valentinetti on Tuesday, August 2, 2016
However, besides his incredible voice, it was Heidi Klum that made his TV appearance memorable. After getting up on stage, hugging him, and kissing his cheek, Heidi went back to her seat. After saying she loves the way he talks and signs, he said “I love the way you look tonight!”, a name of a well-known song, making the audience cheer. After the clapping settled, Heidi asked him, “Do you want to know how I feel about you?”.
As soon as he responded with “Tell me!” she got up and pressed the Golden Buzzer, a button that each judge can use once per season, introduced in Season 10. In doing so, Heidi sent Sal Valentinetti straight to the Live Shows round, i.e., quarterfinals. Sal was shocked and said, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life!” as the realization settled.
Journey to the Finals of AGT
In episode 1113, Week 2 of AGT Season 11, Sal Valentinetti sang “Story of My Life” by One Direction in a jazz style. Unfortunately, the audience didn’t share the sentiment, and he ended up among the last 3 competitors in America’s Vote. Luckily, the Dunkin’ Save portion was a lifeline, and he proceeded to the Semifinals, where he sang “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra. After getting enough votes, he moved on to the Finals, where he received standing ovations from all four judges singing “Mack The Knife” by Bobby Darin, the song that had first impressed his music teacher, and made him focus on singing as a teenager.
Sal competes in “AGT” finale, and comes back for “America’s Got Talent: The Champions”
Sal finally reached his goal, and placed in the finale of “America’s Got Talent” and performed “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” alongside The Jersey Boys. Although the hopes of him winning the show were high when he landed in the Top 5, heended up in 5th place behind Brian Justin Crum (4th place), Jon Dorenbos (3rd), The Clairvoyants (runner-up), and Grace VanderWaal (winner).
Luckily, thanks to his fun personality and hype, he was invited to return to an All-Star competition, “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” (Season 1), which aired on 7 January 2019. Despite receiving standing ovations from all judges, he didn’t place within the top 3 performers of the night, and so was eliminated.
Sal’s album releases
After his appearance on the TV show that skyrocketed him to stardom, he continued working on his craft. Instead of feeling disappointed about not winning the TV competitions, Sal released an album called “The Voice” after his performer nickname, on 6 July 2017, containing covers of some of his favorite songs, including “The Way You Look Tonight”, “Sway”, “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing”, “You Make Me Feel so Young”, and “Can’t Take my Eyes off of You”.
He continued to perform those songs in concerts, primarily in the US. Throughout the years, he told his fans about his belief in God and his love for Christmas, particularly Christmas in New York City. With that in mind, his fans were unsurprised by the release of a second album, Christmas Presents, on 18 November 2018, this time with 8 tracks. “When Christmas Comes to Town” from the album was his first original song release.
On 14 February, Valentine’s Day, he premiered his latest album at the time of writing, “Little Valentine” with 13 tracks. His music streams on Spotify and Apple Music are also growing in popularity, and on 23 December 2022, he released digital singles “First Christmas”, “This Must Be Love”, and “December’s Cold Without You”. Although his audition videos are in the lead with over 350 million views, his album streams are getting there.
Private and family life
As of 2023, Sal Valentinetti still lives in Bethpage, the small New York State town he was raised in, still influenced by singers such as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett whom his grandmother introduced him to. From his now-deleted NBC interview, we know that “most Sundays he is sipping cappuccino at the café, telling stories, making jokes, and planning his next move—to bring back to American pop culture the consummate, classy, old-school entertainer with a heart of gold.”
He’s still down-to-earth and spends a lot of time with family. He often shares moments on social media, and even has “Famiglia means the world to me” as his Instagram bio. He is seen with his goddaughters Victoria Rose and Sophia, his mom whom he calls Mamma or Mammone, his dad, whose name he leaves out, and younger sister, Liz Valentinetti. Furthermore, since 2021, he seems to be dating a Sicilian girl, Gianna, whom he calls “G” or “Gianna Banana”, and they became engaged in 2022. His cousins Tommy Trance (who was also his manager), Big Time Tommie and Stefania are with him often, too. In 2018, he shared a painful moment with his fans, the passing of his Nonna Filomena Falco, at the age of 90.
Health, pets, hobbies, religion
Sal also worked on losing weight, even during the show. After he finished singing “Story of My Life” from One Direction in Quarterfinals, he revealed that he’d lost 50lbs or about 22kgs by that point, clarifying that he “hasn’t eaten a cannoli, a bowl of pasta, or a slice of pizza in 4 months”. What scared him was his pre-diabetic health and a starting weight of 315lbs or about 145kgs. Although he hasn’t revealed his weight today, it’s apparent that he kept up with his fitness and dietary goals.
Also, he’s had a puppy since at least 2018, got a new one, Figgie the Yorkie, in 2021, and enjoys boating in his free time. Lastly, Sal has remained religious, follows Catholicism, and thanks God for his continuous success.
Public appearances and charity promotions
Sal Valentinetti has been active as a speaker, singer and supporter of Italian-themed events, charities, and movements for various causes after his “America’s Got Talent” run ended. Managed by GrayRock Entertainment, Inc., he’s toured across the US over the years – notable stages Sal has performed on include Madison Square Garden in New York City and NYCB Theater at Westbury, Wiltshire, England, which was one of his dreams. He also opened for Jay Leno, a well-known TV show host and comedian, on his Las Vegas shows.
As for charities and movements, he’s supported Wigs and Wishes, Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, Flushing Futbol Academy, Rock & Rawhide, Long Island Cares, and Yorkie 911 Rescue. Sal also tries to celebrate Earth Day when he can, and visits police departments to bring awareness to the dangers of their work. Consequently, He’s featured FDNY (New York City Fire Department), Florida Highway Patrol, Suffolk County Police Department, and NYPD Columbia Association.
After he stopped appearing on TV, he performed at venues such as Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, and B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill. Additionally, in 2022, he was invited to sing Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” before the main race at Belmont Stake. Most recently, in January 2023, he began touring the US and will appear at places such as Patchogue Theatre for Performing Arts, Carteret Performing Arts & Events Center, F. M. Kirby Center, Paramount Hudson Valley, and Rivers Casino Philadelphia.
Over the years, Sal has made efforts to meet celebrities he likes. Some of his favorite people he’s met include Regis Philbin, Connie Francis, Mike Marino, Mikey D, Burt Reynolds, Stan Lee, and the cast of the Hardcore Pawn TV show. Unsurprisingly, he remained close to Heidi Klum, whom he jokingly calls “Wifey”, and celebrates Halloween with her every year.
He has a private fan club called Sal’s private VIP club, and its members get ticket sale offers in advance, exclusive music he releases, and ways to see him live that non-members don’t receive. After his prominence in media, he also opened a Cameo account on which he records a video message, usually to his fans, for a fee. Moreover, he released an iPhone application, “Sal The Voice Mojis,” in 2018. As a spokesperson, Sal’s promoted businesses such as Exotic Classics, Carmine’s Pizzeria, and Geno’s Steaks, and was inducted into The Friar’s Club in Manhattan in 2019.
Cars and sports
Sal is a big fan of cars, specifically Cadillacs, and has shared his love for them in interviews and on social media, even saying “Cadillac is not a car. Cadillac is a lifestyle.” He’s had a Cadillac since at least 2018, bought another one in 2019, and likes the Lincoln Continental too. He also got a GMC SUV in 2019 and has driven luxury cars such as Maserati Quattroporte SQ4 GranLusso. As for sports, he shared his appearances at the New York Yankees stadium on social media, revealing that he’s a big Yankee’s fan.
I don't got 24's, but I'm on those Vogues #WhiteWalls #Cadillac pic.twitter.com/HpjxbXt6g7
— Sal Valentinetti (@SalTheVoice) June 27, 2016
Funny personality and quotes
Sal Valentinetti enjoys coming up with quotes, including by influential or entertaining people. Some that he’s shared with his fans are:
- “Great men are not born great, they grow great.” –Don Corleone
- “Because a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man” –Don Corleone
- “The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” –Vince Lombardi
A few funny or personal quotes include:
- To whom it may concern: bury me in a black tuxedo.
- “My face when Ma says she’s making sauce. It’s not gravy—fight me!”
As we can see, Sal Valentinetti hasn’t taken his foot off the gas pedal. In the several years after his “America’s Got Talent” appearance and 5th place finish, he’s continued to work on his music career, released three albums, began dating and got engaged. He keeps his family, including cousins, close to his heart, promotes charities, and is expanding his business ventures by leveraging a personal brand. We can’t wait to see what Sal will do next!