PLAY IT ONCE AGAIN SAL

He sings at the drop of a hat, however cliched it may sound, this man sure is a singer for all seasons. A singer whose passion for singing and love for Dubai, has brought him here thirty long years, when he used to sing regularly as an entertainer and on radio.



By Blessing Johnson

Published: Thu 2 Jun 2005, 12:51 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:19 PM

Garrulous to the core, he never tires of telling how 'those' days were, he tries to paint a word picture, "You might have been in your cradle when I was singing in Dubai," he says, "the place was a small sleepy town. Shaikh Zayed Road was nowhere like the present day, there were no buildings on either side and certainly no traffic problems, because there was no traffic," he guffaws.

This man is not just a singer, he's been a complete entertainer, a pro golfer who won a few big titles, a successful businessman in the airline industry, and politician all rolled into one but then, once a person tastes success, he never actually leaves it, as Sal says, "Once a musician, always a musician."

"Thirty long years ago," he informs us, "I did a song called 'Back in Dubai' which became quite popular guess you should ask the old timers, you guys are awfully young to know of it. I did a television show back then and 'Back in Dubai' was the title song for that show".

Sal's claims are no empty boasts, he has been documented to have sung with a host of famous artists like Shirley Bassey, Harry Belafonnte, Lulu, Miriam Mabika, Boney M, Three Degrees and Manhattan Transfer. "The song that I did for television was with Boney M and Lulu. The song was commissioned by Radio Dubai back then," he says.

Hailing from Kenya, Sal sings in three languages; Spanish, French and English, apart from his native Swahili.

He was so popular that the President of Kenya used his services to render a song for the aids awareness programme, in which the President sang the opening and closing verses.

That was no surprise because some of his songs have been on the top ten all over Europe, at a time when there was no unified Euro hit Chart so the charts were for individual countries and his songs occupied different places in different countries. In Italy and Belgium it was number one, in France it was number six, that was in the year 1961.

During the chat with City Times, Sal frequently lapses into his Dubai days, "Dubai those days was just a village, you cannot imagine the progress it has made in these years and for somebody who worked here thirty years ago and comes back now, it is a complete shock. It is a complete transformation. I've come here to renew my links here and sing another song that takes off where I left it thirty years ago, the song is called 'One more time in Dubai'. I wrote the song a long time ago but haven't got down to recording it."

"It goes like this," he says and promptly breaks into a song...

Can you hear the sea

calling me back again.

Dubai is mine, come here,

my heart is here, you live with no fear

and the chorus goes ...

One more time, back in Dubai...

Oh, one more time back in Dubai,

land of sunshine, a land of leisure,

take it from me, Dubai will give you pleasure..."

After he hums the songs to a close, he says, "I'd be very happy if someone helps me produce this song. It would be wonderful to see this dream of mine take shape but I still remember the day I recorded that first song. I did it with a 52 piece band, it was so successful and I don't even have a copy of the old song. Just the other day I asked a friend of mine to check in an old record store in Deira to check for the record, they might have a copy even today," he says of his song.

After a long and successful stint in singing, golf and politics, he's come to Dubai, which he calls his quasi-home, to roost, "Once a person is in Dubai, they just cannot get it out of their system. Guess that's why I'm here," he says.


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