CINCINNATI (WXIX) — A Cincinnati native is nominated for a Grammy Award for two songs he co-produced to Beyoncé’s “Renaissance,” which is up for album of the year.
Sal Dali, who grew up in Avondale, was overwhelmed with joy when he saw “Saliou Diagne”, his real name, appear among the category nominees on a Twitter Livestream of the 65th Grammy Nominations.
“They had the name of every person that was on the listed album,” the 40-year-old said. “It was different when I saw my name. I got a little misty eyed for a second.
Dali recalls his first industry job as a studio apprentice at Cincinnati-based producer Hi-Tek’s Teklabs Studios, and how he imagined himself one day winning the industry’s most coveted award.
“It’s just something I’ve been obsessed with for years before I even saw a clear path,” Dali explained. “Like I’m looking at old tweets from 10 years ago when I was like, ‘I’m getting the Grammy next year.
Dali’s life changed last year when he was called to come to Los Angeles to work on projects with his producing partners. Neither of them had a clue they’d bump into Beyoncé in a recording studio.
The multi-platinum singer recruited them to contribute tracks with a “dance/disco vibe.”
As it turns out, their songs “Alien Superstar” and “Summer Renaissance” made the track list, and Dali now lives in Los Angeles full-time.
Before music became his main passion, he hoped to become a professional basketball player and played at Seven Hills School and briefly at the University of Wittenburg.
Nanci Mays, 40, from Western Hills, remembers him as one of her ‘best friends’ when they attended the Academy of World Languages in Evanston together in fifth grade.
“I remember he was always taller than all of us,” Mays said. “He would tell us that Scottie Pippen is his 7th cousin.”
Standing at 6′7″, it’s not hard to imagine Dali dominating the basketball court.
“Everything works as it should,” Dali said. “I guess it kind of put a drum set on my back when I first started making music; it just gave me one thing in the back of my mind to never give up on a dream again. Whatever your dream, see it to the end.
Apart from the height gene, music is also part of Dali’s lineage. His grandfather was a jazz drummer and his father once played in a band in Senegal doing Jimi Hendrix covers.
“My dad used to practice his guitar in the basement and he bought me a little Casio keyboard when I was about five years old,” Dali explained. “He taught me a few keys to play so I had something to do while he was training. It’s crazy; I still remember those keys.
Dali’s father put music on the back burner when he came to the United States in the late 70s to attend college and pursue better opportunities.
Asked about his family’s reaction to his nomination, he replied, “Oh man, they are so happy. It has been a difficult year for my family. My older sister passed away in August, so all my family could be happy about was a blessing this year.
According to the Grammy’s website, album of the year trophies are awarded to artists, featured artists, songwriters of new material, producers, sound engineers, mixers and mastering engineers.
You can view the full list of 2023 nominees here.
The Grammy Awards air Sunday, February 5, 2023 on CBS.
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