|Age (at audition)||29|
|Act||Singer and Guitarist|
|Position Reached||Judgment Week|
Growing up in East Los Angeles, singer songwriter Sal Gonzalez listened to everything except country music. Influenced by his father, a former rock and funk bassist, Sal grew up listening to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Chicago, The Temptations, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and The Strait Cats. It wasn’t until flipping channels one day that he came across a music video by Garth Brooks called “If Tomorrow Never Comes” that Sal became a fan of country music, falling in love with the storytelling and truth in the lyrics.
Throughout high school, Sal starred as the lead singer in a regional Spanish rock band and became known locally for his distinctive baritone that captured the hearts of his fans. Sal’s dreams soon began to center around a career in music, but a soul-wrenching experience occurred for him on September 11, 2001. As the Twin Towers began to disintegrate under terrorist attack, Sal pledged he would hold off on his music to fight for the honor of his country. Immediately upon graduation, Sal marched himself down to the nearest United States Marine Corps recruiting office and enlisted in the Marines.
Shortly after completing boot camp at Camp Pendleton, Sal found himself on the front lines in Iraq. As a gunner behind a .50 caliber machine gun, Sal’s job quickly became protecting the welfare of his squad. During his short time on the front lines Sal’s Humvee was hit seven times by roadside bombs. Unfortunately for Sal and his squad, the seventh time was a direct hit. During the explosion, Sal suffered a wound that resulted in an amputation of his lower left leg. Equally as difficult, Sal lost his good friend and Lieutenant, Matt Lynch.
In a coma for three weeks, Sal regained consciousness stateside at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. After a total of 12 months of recovery Sal received his medical discharge, but was unsure what the next phase of his life might look like. It was then that the family of a fellow Marine invited Sal to come rehabilitate and acclimate to society in Nashville while enjoying the sights and sounds of the CMA Country Music Fest. This experience quickly reunited Sal with his musical roots and reignited his goal of pursuing a career in the music industry.
Since that time, Sal has resided in Nashville while honing his singing chops, writing songs and assisting fellow veterans on their personal roads to recovery. As part of his personal responsibility to his fellow Marines, Sal has attended several services for fallen comrades. It was at one of these services that Sal was approached by an elderly lady who tried to impart to Sal that he was a “hero.” Unflinching, Sal quickly responded to the lady, “Ma’am I thank you. But the heroes are the ones that don’t come home.” In that short sentence Sal summarized his personal experience and with his writing buddy, Arlos Smith he sat down to pen his first hit “Heroes.”
“Heroes” is the first and only song that Sal currently plays about his experience as a Marine at war. The beauty and the message of this song have touched many and opened many song-writing doors for Sal. In more recent times, Sal has used his skills to pen many more songs about the struggles and trials of the common man. Sal’s perspective on country music comes not from the farm or the fields, but from the life experiences that many common Americans face.
Sal most recently completed a five song EP to share with fans and industry folks alike. He remains focused on his music and building a following that appreciates him not for his military service, but for the quality of his music and the message of his songs. In 2011 Sal signed a management deal with Moonstruck Management. Sal and his team are anxious to introduce his music, his voice, and his message to Nashville and beyond. 1
Sal Gonzalez's audition in Episode 906 consisted of singing Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" while playing the guitar. Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B, and Howie Mandel all voted "Yes," sending Sal to Judgment Week.
Sal Gonzalez was sorted into the "Male Singers" category in Judgment Week. His performance in Episode 908 consisted of singing Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" while playing the guitar. Sal Gonzalez's performance was not strong enough for the judges to send him to the Quarterfinals, eliminating him from the competition along with Justin Rhodes that same episode.