Unique name. Unforgettable voice. Saalik Ziyad, a native Chicagoan born in 1978, began singing at the age of seven. His unique style of song creates deep, melodic vocals that many who have witnessed his craft, soon not forget. His first introduction to music was when he was accepted as a member of the Chicago Children's Choir. This experience opened the door to opportunities to perform with many musical greats including Charlie Haden, Amina Claudine Myers, Willie Pickens, and renowned institutions such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
While working on his Bachelor's Degree in Vocal Performance at Northern Illinois University (NIU), Saalik's talents continued to flourish and landed him the position of lead jazz vocalist with the Northern Illinois University Jazz Ensemble, including tours with Hammiet Blueitt, Steve Turre and Rufus Reid. Additionally, the multi-faceted Ziyad has appeared in George Gershwin's “Porgy and Bess” under the direction of Grammy® Award winner, Bobby McFerrin at the Ravinia Music Festival in Illinois and has also performed with The Chicago Sinfonietta under the direction of Maestro Paul Freeman. While exploring his continued quest for understanding the creative influence of music at NIU, Saalik formed- “The 5 after 7 Project,” - a collaborative of diverse musicians residing in the Chicagoland area. They continue to hone their skills and thrill audiences at the Velvet Lounge in Chicago.
As a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Saalik has been able explore the different areas of creative music by composing and performing with the organization. He is a former student of the AACM and taught in the AACM School of Music since he was 18.
Saalik's unique style and voice ranges from jazz to classical and has afforded him the opportunity to perform worldwide, from the Sons D’hiver Jazz festival in Paris, France to the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy, just to name a few. One of Saalik's crowning achievements was performing at the Made in Chicago Jazz Festival in Poznan, Poland at the world-renowned Blue Note Jazz Club.
Saalik's list of performances reads as a who's who of the performing arts world including roles in Dido & Aeneas, Floyd's Susannah, and dinner theater performances of The All Night Strut and many others. As a member of the doo wop group The El Dorado's, Saalik has a chance to perform in some of the biggest venues in the country including the Viva Rock Vegas Show in Las Vegas.
Always a proponent for giving back to the community, Saalik continues, through teaching and mentoring, to help others hone their craft. Between his many performances across the globe, Saalik has taught in the Chicago Public Schools as an artist in residence for the Jazz Institute of Chicago. and has conducted multiple clinics with the Polyrhythms Organization. All these experiences have led this talented musician, arranger, composer, and conductor to grow his voice into a truly powerful vocal instrument that will continue to be enjoyed by music lovers for many years to come.
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