May 22, 2024

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Laith Al-Saadi: I was able to represent myself pretty authentically on the show: Photos, Videos

05.10. – Happy Birthday !!! Ann Arbor guitarist Laith Al-Saadi stood his ground during a successful run on “The Voice” by sticking to the blues and rock formula that’s propelled his career for the past two decades.

It certainly paid off for the gregarious and talented Michigan musician in more ways than one, even though he finished fourth on the most recent season of NBC’s “The Voice.”

Semi-Finalist: Al-Saadi performing on "The Voice" earlier this year. (Photo/NBC)

Semi-Finalist: Al-Saadi performing on “The Voice” earlier this year.

“I have to say my best-case scenario was what happened. I told everybody from the get-go that if I make it to the top eight, I’d be really really happy,” said Al-Saadi, who consistently impressed “The Voice” judges and fans with his bluesy delivery and jaw-dropping guitar work. “It was a great way to go out.”

Indeed, Al-Saadi told Local Spins that his career path changed dramatically due to his dizzying and meteoric rise in prominence with a Top Four finish on “The Voice.”

The national exposure significantly boosted Al-Saadi’s profile, his album sales and enhanced his concert bookings: The Michigan-bred guitarist and singer headlined Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival last summer, and he followed that with a much-anticipated homecoming concert at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater, and a jam-packed outdoor show at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo.

He’ll also be one of the first artists to perform at Grand Rapids’ new 20 Monroe Live venue that opens in February in downtown Grand Rapids. Al-Saadi opens for legendary Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd.

FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME TO HELP TAKE HIS CAREER ‘TO NEW PLACES’

“As you can imagine, there’s this fear that you only get your 15 minutes of fame for this,” said Al-Saadi, 38, who holds a University of Michigan degree in jazz guitar and bass. “I’m trying to use this boost in exposure I have had to broaden my horizons and take my career to new places.”

Much like Traverse City singer-songwriter Joshua Davis, who finished third on “The Voice” in 2015, Al-Saadi proved his mettle as a veteran performer on the NBC show and expanded his fan base among baby boomers as well as younger music devotees.

In the Studio: Al-Saadi has big plans for new recordings in the wake of 'The Voice.'

In the Studio: Al-Saadi has big plans for new recordings in the wake of ‘The Voice.’

Al-Saadi called Davis “a real inspiration” – someone he contacted several times during his run on “The Voice” as “a great friend and confidante.” Like Davis, he “stayed true” to himself during the competition.

“I was able to represent myself pretty authentically on the show,” Al-Saadi said of his insistence on sticking with blues- and rock-fueled material. “I kind of stood my ground and dug my heels in when I wasn’t comfortable, and I think that helped me in the long run.

“The show is traditionally a pop- and country-type format, so to see the blues and classic rock ‘n’ roll work as well as it did, and resonate with America, was incredibly reassuring and validating to me.”

AUDIO: Laith Al-Saadi, “No One Left to Blame”

The popular network talent show wrapped up Season 10 in May, with singer Alisan Porter winning. While Al-Saadi was the oldest performer in the final months of the competition, he insisted he “learned quite a bit” from the younger “talented group” of contestants.

INSPIRED BY YOUNG CONTESTANTS, IMPRESSED BY MICHIGAN’S TALENT

“I don’t think I had been inspired that much by other people since I was in music school,” he said. “It was good for me to explore a whole new side of music for me. And it’s good to know the future of music is in really good hands.”

Al-Saadi also credited his coach on “The Voice,” singer Adam Levine, and judge Pharrell Williams for supporting and promoting his music. The increased exposure and album sales will help finance the next phase of Al-Saadi’s career.

'So Much to Record': Al-Saadi has a big summer and fall ahead.

‘So Much to Record’ and ‘So Much Love’ for Michigan: Al-Saadi has a big summer and fall ahead.

“It’s a wonderful thing. In some ways, I’m a little bit of an anomaly because of my appeal to a baby-boomer audience and I think those people still buy music,” said Al-Saadi, who started playing guitar at age 13 and later went on to share stages with legends such as Buddy Guy and B.B. King. “I am blessed.”

The guitarist – who was regularly playing six nights a week prior to his Los Angeles stint on “The Voice” – also expressed eagerness to get back into the studio to record a follow-up to his 2013 album, “Real,” as well as some singles.

“There’s so much to record. There’s so much that I want to get out there,” said Al-Saadi, who’s been writing new material. “There’s original stuff to record and there are also a lot of covers that were stimulated by ‘The Voice’ that I wanted to do but didn’t get a chance to do. I want to do a solo acoustic record, too.”

Al-Saadi echoed Davis in praising “the unbelievable music scene” in Michigan that’s produced a bevy of contestants on “The Voice” over the years, including Tony Lucca, Jonathan Bach, Daniel Passino and others.

“There are so many great and talented people in Michigan, and they’re just great human beings. Three of the top 48 (contestants) this year were from Ann Arbor,” Al-Saadi noted. “Really, we’ve been incredibly well-represented. There’s something in the water.

“That’s why I never moved from here. I have so much love for Michigan, and so much love for the music in Ann Arbor and Detroit.”

VIDEO: Laith Al-Saadi, “Gone” (Official Video)

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