It’s Hollywood Week on Fox’s hit television show American Idol and the hopeful contestants that have made it this far are all waiting patiently to find out if they will continue on their journey towards becoming this year’s American Idol. In the midst of all this talent lie two contestants who hail from right here on Long Island. Sal Valentinetti from Bethpage, and Adam Ezegelian from Wantagh, are the two young Long Island musicians vying for the spotlight and taking on the challenge of achieving their dreams while the whole world watches.
We had the opportunity to catch up with Sal and Adam and ask them a few questions about their journeys towards becoming American Idol contestants, their home towns, where you can find them on social media to cheer them on and, of course, their favorite place to go on Long Island for a slice of pizza!
Q: What inspired you to try out for American Idol?
Adam: The person that inspired me to audition for American Idol was definitely my mom. Whether it was a gentle bit of encouragement or more of a nagging situation is up for debate but I know that she pushes me out of love and pride and I love her for that! I wouldn't change a thing!
Sal: I've been singing professionally for 2 years because of Joe Luparello, my uncle who got me my first regular singing gig. Many clients had asked me to try out but when he told me to, I knew I had to. I thought I wouldn't make it, but he muscled me into it and it's been the greatest experience of my life. I owe so much to him. Unfortunately he didn't get to see it with me - he passed away in early December.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a music performer?
Adam: I could always picture myself as a musical performer, but I have also had a strong passion for drawing so I went to school for drawing with the intention of pursuing music on the side. With school becoming increasingly time consuming music took a more humble hobby role but presented with this opportunity I can hopefully push it back to the forefront of my career path.
Sal: I definitely always had that need for the spotlight. I was a character from day 1 and began playing instruments when I was 8. I only started singing when I was 14.
Q: Who would you say has helped you the most through The American Idol process and how?
Adam: Well I would have to say a combination of my mom and my uncle Steve. They really have pushed me to do more all the time. Whatever I'm doing is never enough. My uncle has been a little trigger happy with his use of Photoshop and in turn has made a bunch of funny pictures and videos that I then can share on social media outlets. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a new side of my uncle that I am very glad to see!
Sal: My family. My family is closer than ever and they've always been my biggest supporters in any venture. My family is the most important thing to me.
Q: Do you get nervous in the spotlight or do you revel in it?
Adam: I never was really nervous on stage or in the spotlight. I was always in the school plays throughout Middle school and High school so I'm used to being on stage in front of a bunch of people. I love being on stage and entertaining a crowd it gives me a good feeling making people laugh and putting a good show.
Sal: I'm definitely not camera shy. I've been eating up the attention!
Q: Growing up did you ever have any training in the musical arts?
Adam: I never really received any musical training, most of my singing I picked up from listening the Les Miserables CDs in the car with my mom when I was a kid.
Sal: I've been playing Baritone Horn since 3rd grade, but it wasn't until I was 14, during a private lesson, that I was asked to pick a favorite jazz tune to play. I couldn't remember the name of tune and sang the first 2 lines of Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife." That was the beginning of my "Sinatra Story."
Q: Who are some of your favorite current artists and artists that you look up to?
Adam: My favorite artists are a bit different from many people first and second choices. I would have to say my favorite people to listen to would have to be Weird Al Yankovic and Tenacious D. Very different feeling music but if you look on my phone at what music I have on there its them and a bunch of theatre scores. And of course a bunch of songs form Guitar Hero!
Sal: John Legend and Sam Smith really stand out to me. Lady Gaga is super talented vocally and Michael Buble is one of the best showmen in the business... I look up to Tony Bennett. He was one of the couple of standards singers who was an all around talent - he not only had the look and the stage presence, but a beautiful and unmistakable voice. Talk about love for what you do- he's 80 something and just sold out a world tour.
Q: Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?
Adam: I could definitely see myself on Broadway in something like "Book of Mormon" or the new "School of Rock" Musical that has been announced. But if it shakes out that I'm releasing an album I wouldn't mind!
Sal: I hope to be able to cultivate my talents and be able to do what I love: Entertaining people with my voice, my wit, and my passion for making people happy.
How have your friends, community and hometown been reacting to your success on American Idol?
Q: How have your friends, community and hometown been reacting to your success on American Idol?
Adam: My friends and family have had a great reaction to me being on American Idol and on television in general! Many of my not so close friends didn't even know I could sing! So it was a big shock to them.
Sal: I've been overwhelmed by the amount of people who've reached out to me from all over Long Island, NYC, Jersey telling me how much they loved my audition. Almost every story is the same- "You were so funny, I loved hearing someone sing the Standards like you did. And you remind me of my Uncle Paulie/Louie/Joey/Carmine etc...
Q: Where can your fans find you on social media? We'd love to share links to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & other Social Media Pages in our Interview so that Long Islanders can follow you and support your American Idol Journeys!
Sal: @salvalentinetti on Instagram @SalvatoreRocco on Twitter and Vine, facebook.com/sinatrasal for all upcoming performance dates and booking info.
Q: Lastly, we have to ask, where is your go to spot for a slice of Long Island pizza?
Adam: My favorite place to grab a slice has got to be Ginos Pizza on Jerusalem Avenue. Their buffalo slice is incredible!
Sal: That's Easy! Da-Angelo's on Willis Ave in Albertson!
Don’t forget to tune to Fox on Wednesdays & Thursdays
at 8 PM to watch American Idol!