Whether it’s for good or bad, talent shows have given us some of the most memorable moments on TV in the last two decades. At the peak of the genre there’s “America’s Got Talent”, which has undoubtedly surpassed the constraints of language and distance to become a worldwide success.
While there’s no shortage of big stars who have successfully built stable careers after participating in the show, there are some other contestants who, despite being vastly talented, are often forgotten, or simply disappear from the public eye – such is the case of the charismatic Sal Valentinetti from “America’s Got Talent”s 11th season.
So whatever happened to him? Is he still in the music industry, or has he moved out to other areas? Is he married? Keep with us to know all the recent whereabouts of the memorable Sal the Voice!
Where Is He Now?
Hundreds of contestants have performed on the stage of “America’s Got Talent”, and Sal Valentinetti is one of those privileged enough to still be remembered by the audience, no matter how many years have passed since his participation in 2016.
Whether people love him for his charisma, confident attitude, or simply for his talent, Sal irremediably gained the hearts of millions through the show, even despite not winning his season. If you’re also one long-time fan, you’d most likely be pleased to know that not only is Sal still in the music industry, but he’s doing quite well professionally and personally. As seen on his social media, Sal often performs in both private and public shows, having found his niche at such as Christmas-themed and Italian culture-focused events. He also offers a wide array of Sal-themed merchandise on his website, in addition to having video-commissions available on the Cameo platform, for his most dedicated fans.
Regarding his personal life, in late 2021, Sal announced his engagement to Gianna Oliva, an esthetician from Long Island whom he had been dating since 2018. Though the date for them tying the knot is unknown, the couple seems to be going strongly, just like Sal’s career.
Music Releases So Far
While it’s evident that Sal’s participation in “America’s Got Talent” didn’t turn him into a massive pop star, the fact that he continuously goes on tours proves his status as one of the show’s most memorable contestants.
That being said, Sal has been unrelentingly pursuing music since his elimination from the talent show, releasing his 2017 debut extended play “The Voice”, containing six tracks directly covered from the legendary Rat Pack.
Trying his luck with original songs, in 2018 Sal released his first studio album – “Christmas Presents” – featuring both original songs such as “When Christmas Comes to Town”, and other well-known renditions from him fitting to the festivity. That year he also released his “Sleigh Ride” cover, originally released in 1948 by Leroy Anderson.
The following year was a busy one for Sal, releasing his single “How About You?” alongside Dave Damiani and The No Vacancy Orchestra, followed in 2021 by the release of his second studio album, “Little Valentine”, both of which met with moderate success. However, for Sal, singing isn’t about numbers but about having fun: ‘I am still touring and making music for a living. I will keep working on originals as well, but for now, I am just having a great time’, as he told Florida Today in 2018.
If you remember Sal Valentinetti’s charismatic audition during the 11th season of “America’s Got Talent”, you surely know he worked as a pizza deliverer prior to it. Though that fact alone isn’t unusual in a wide sea of talented people with humble backgrounds, that doesn’t mean his life is any less inspiring: ‘I would make just enough money to put gas in my Cadillac. Delivering pizzas in a Cadillac is the most counterproductive thing you could do’, he told Lipulse in 2017.
— Sal Valentinetti (@SalTheVoice) June 27, 2016
While Sal was split between working and going to college, his uncle Joe advised him to audition for “America’s Got Talent”, even though not even Sal believed he was ‘special’ enough to make it as a singer, but got courage anyway from the words of his uncle, whom he describes as his best friend and mentor: ‘I went in there and I did it and they loved it but I only got through to Hollywood. I got home and he said, ‘This is only the beginning.’’, he admitted, recalling his initial non-televised audition. The story of his uncle Joe is a bittersweet one, given that he passed away soon afterwards, never getting to see Sal becoming a star on TV.
Debut On TV
Little over a year after his first audition, Sal Valentinetti was called by “America’s Got Talent” staff to offer him a spot on the big stage. That was a big surprise for the young 20-yea-old Sal, who was already resigned to going to college, and having a normal life away from the public spotlight, but also incredibly lost at what exactly he was going to do: ‘I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was in St. John’s for three years, changing my degree every single year’, he told Lipulse.
While things turned his favor, it wouldn’t be fair to say Sal got there by luck alone. Although he had always been a dedicated fan of classic 1950s music, thanks to his late grandmother, Sal didn’t discover he had a real talent for it until he was 15 years old, when a local New York music teacher named Joseph Merkel was immediately impressed by his rendition of Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife”, and offered to train him.
Half a decade later, Sal was on the stage of “America’s Got Talent” for the first time, and knowing right there that he had taken the right decision: ‘I knew exactly what I wanted to do, performing for people and hearing that crowd roaring’.
“America’s Got Talent” and “The Champions”
For a man in his early 20s, Sal’s evident confidence and charisma during his audition was impressive, especially considering his lack of experience on such an important stage. Though his rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” gained him the approval of Mel B and Howie Mandel, it was Heidi Klum who directly sent him to the show’s quarterfinals with her Golden Buzzer.
Klum’s actions and his talent marked the audition as one of the most memorable in the show’s history, but there was still a long road ahead for Sal. For his second performance, he adapted One Direction’s “Story Of My Life” to Jazz, giving the song a personal and brilliant touch which gained him the juror’s and audience’s ovation, advancing to the semi-finals thanks to the online votes.
Sal’s third performance singing Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” gained him another audience ovation and a spot in the finals, where he performed Bobby Darin’s “Mack The Knife” on the first day. His final performance was a rendition of Jersey Boys’ “Oh, What a Night”, which ultimately gained him the fifth grand finalist.
In 2019, Sal went back to “America’s Got Talent” again in its spin-off “The Champions”, but was unfortunately eliminated in the first round.
Life After The Show
When asked during an interview with Florida Today to recall his favorite moment in “America’s Got Talent”, Sal couldn’t help but mention Heidi Klum’s Golden Buzzer moment, and how it completely changed his world, also ensuring there are many other favorite moments from the show he holds dear to his heart.
That being said, it’s truly evident Sal doesn’t have any resentment about not winning the show. Quite the contrary, his gratitude has been evident from the start: ‘Over 150,000 people auditioned, and I took fifth place. I will take that any day’ he affirmed, also stating that he didn’t feel at a disadvantage facing other soloists in the finals, even in spite of the audience’s vote age range being ‘12- to 16-year-old girls’.
Indeed, “America’s Got Talent” changed Sal’s life a hundred percent, taking him around the world for performances, and serving as the perfect platform for him to pursue his biggest passion. While the chances of a ‘pizza boy’ becoming a TV star are usually slim, Sal proved to everyone and even himself that dreams are never too far out of reach.
Despite the huge fame he achieved through his participation in “America’s Got Talent”, Sal Valentinetti is evidently a down-to-earth person, making humble and charisma two words perfectly fitting to describe him. Very grateful for his success and warm reception from the general public, Sal admitted to doing certain things to keep close to his fans, such as answering social media messages himself: ‘I like to give people a personal message, because they invest their time and money in me, so I owe it to them to respond if I can.’.
While many people don’t consider age an important factor when it comes to talent, in Sal’s case it’s impressive how much the perception of the general public doesn’t reflect what’s expected from a young man. Born in 1995 and with enough talent to lose himself once in a while, Sal’s ‘old soul-ish’ attitude and maturity took him to a very moderate lifestyle, which is a rarity in the entertainment world: ‘People don’t realize how old I am at first. When they find out I am only 22 they gasp’, he admitted back in 2018.
Whether it has to do with his family-centered mind-set, his love for old music, or simply for choosing wisely what he wanted in life, the truth is that Sal doesn’t fit any young-celebrity stereotype in today’s industry.
What Music Does He Listen To?
Regardless of centering his music career on the standards from the 1950s and following decades, Sal Valentinetti’s musical tastes certainly go beyond one genre. As he told Florida Today in 2017, music by definition isn’t a matter of thinking but feeling for him: ‘it’s a mood, it’s not a preference. Music is an expression of what is going on around you’.
Under that philosophy, Sal proudly admitted to enjoying a wide variety of genres, including classic music, hip hop and rock. Not limited by the perception most people might have of him, his musical releases include the elegance provided by jazz, and the joys of festive music. The success achieved by his music also proves his creativity is deeply guided by sentiment, instead of technicalities: ‘It’s an expression of who I am. We breathed new life into some standards while keeping the integrity of the music alive’, he said in reference to his debut extended play “The Voice”, released in 2017.
Did He Release A Reality Show?
While his love for music is Sal’s main motivation, his interest in TV didn’t disappear with his elimination from “America’s Got Talent”. In 2017 he admitted that he was in the process of creating a reality show alongside actor Tommie Romola, known as Big Time Tommy.
Although it’s not clear what the connection between the men is, besides their Italian heritage, Sal seemed convinced that the show had a lot of potential: ‘We are often like a fish out of water, and get ourselves into some stuff. The show just follows our crazy lives’, he told Florida Today.
— Sal Valentinetti (@SalTheVoice) September 10, 2016
Despite assuring that the show was meant to start that summer, the project apparently didn’t catch the attention of any network. When asked again a year later, he affirmed the show was ‘still in the works,’ as they hadn’t been able to come to terms with any production company, but were considering transforming the concept into a YouTube series.
Unfortunately, said reality show hasn’t seen the light, saddening Sal’s fans in the process.
Pieces of Advice
One of the most crucial moments in Sal’s career surely has to be his second presentation in “America’s Got Talent”, given his risky music selection and the pressure that being the receiver of a Golden Buzzer put on him. However, very few people know that his courage to set foot on stage was prompted by Heidi Klum: ‘She comes right for me and she says, ‘Sal, just do exactly what you did the first time you were on stage and be you’, as Sal told Lipulse.
While simple, Klum’s advice was exactly what Sal needed at the time. Losing his fear was the first step to build a successful career, but so was his will to remain loyal to himself, which was also the impromptu advice Simon Cowell gave him one day after the show.
Considering Sal remembered these two incidents with such clarity, it’s certain that their words were deeply impactful. That being said, Sal’s own wise piece of advice to future talent contest participants, or people double-doubting themselves to follow their dreams, is to ‘hold nothing back’ and have a fun time while doing so.