Michael Zaib
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Michael Zaib

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | INDIE

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Country Soul

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


""Soul Man""

It’s Wednesday night at Nik’s Back Porch and Michael Zaib is comfortable. The bar is full of folks sipping on longnecks, watching baseball, laughing with the bartender, but Zaib is the only one in the room with both of his feet propped up on a chair.

He stands up and takes a corner of the stage under the soft glow of electric KENO. The band fills in empty seats at a Moog synth, a drum kit, and a keyboard hooked up to a Leslie speaker cabinet. The wall behind them is papered mostly with beer logos from the faces of cardboard six pack carriers, but there’s also a defamed paper mask and a poster of Elvis Presley.

Without introduction or conversation, the band breaks into the smoothest cover of Yearning For Your Love. A friend at a nearby table addresses my visible surprise:

“Wait had you never heard this guy before?”

“No. First time.”

“Good grief, woman. At least you’re here now.”

Zaib and his band carefully curate covers for their live performances, pulling from R&B, funk, and soul artists. You get the sense that you accidentally walked in on a jazz band practicing in a basement, playing the songs they truly love to play.

Another round and several songs later they have me forgetting that Lonely Avenue is a Ray Charles classic. It sounds original. They’re that good.

Apparent musicianship aside, there’s something specific about Zaib. His voice sounds easy. His delivery is too pure. He’s soulful, but not pained.

From what I’ve heard, Zaib’s a local family man. Encouraged by positive response, he walked away from college to find his career in music. He says: “I would get good feedback, so I kept going. In a way, music had to happen because there was nothing else I wanted to do. When I was younger, I had no idea I’d be singing songs to pay the bills.”

Now he makes a living playing out around the South, from smoky bars in the Carolina foothills to swanky parties in Atlanta, and back home again. Recently he and Rhett Huffman (keys, synth, bass) played the Forever Young Ball. Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed thanked Zaib publicly, saying “Thank you for a terrific live performance.” Of his bandmates he says, “I feel so lucky to be around such great musicians. Each is the real deal, a pro’s pro for sure.”

As a songwriter he’s just starting to come into his own. Earlier this year he released a selftitled EP Zaib. His personal, earnest, and unapologetically simple form of storytelling carries us through six original songs that pivot between gospel, jazz, and country conventions. His strongest single The Wind is also the most vulnerable:

I sing songs, every Saturday,
down at the Old Vinings Inn
And people sing along to songs they know
But then they turn their heads when it’s one I wrote
That’s okay cause they don’t know
Maybe one of these days they’ll hear what I wrote
This I hope

Back at Nik’s place, posted up at a hightop with a half-empty Terrapin, I have the sincere pleasure of shaking Zaib’s hand after a set. It’s too loud for formal salutations, so he hands me a business card. I turn it over in my palm. It reads the most ubiquitous mantra of optimists: Do. What. You. Love.

“Do what you love?” I hurl my cynical voice at Zaib over the noise of the crowd. “Ya know, some people might say that’s a privilege.”

“I don’t know,” he smiles back. “It’s working for me.”

And he’s right. Whatever he’s doing, it is working, and we can’t wait to see what he decides to do next. - Southerly Magazine


"HBCVibes Artist Spotlight: Michael Zaib"

I’m starting to notice a pattern, the Monday Night open mics in New York City seem to be when all the best talent pops up. I’ve written a couple of posts in the past few months about various artists I’ve seen take the open mic stage but last Monday at the Sidewalk Cafe in the East Village, I saw some truly jaw dropping talent.

It almost feels strange watching someone who should be, and likely will soon be big, sing a two song set amongst the rest of us. But Zaib Khan, the Atlanta native singer/songwriter gave us a full eight minutes of soulful intimate music, with nothing but a guitar and his voice to deliver it. I was so moved by the performance that I felt compelled to go up and ask the only thing I could think of, “do you have an album?” The good news for myself and anyone who appreciates good soulful singer/songwriter music is that he does, in fact you can find it here.

Zaib Khan and his brother/manager were up in NYC playing open mics all over town trying to get his sound out there. To their credit, the Sidewalk is a great place to start and notorious for being the birthplace of a lot of successful music careers. There was a ton of talent in the room that night but Khan stood out, bringing a blend of jazz, soul, and country to a stage that rarely houses such a sound. With a voice reminiscent of Amos Lee and some very clear proficiency with a guitar, he shut up the often hard to impress crowd at the Sidewalk. What I was most impressed with, was the uniqueness of his sound, he wasn’t playing covers, and it didn’t seem like he was copying or sticking to strongly to any one person’s influence, it was a new experience hearing him play.

Khan is one of many extremely talented musicians out there trying to make a name for themselves. Playing open mics in new towns or cities is a great way to do it and I’m extremely excited that I was in the right place at the right time to make this discovery. For those of you who are looking for a video to get to know this artist’s sound, look no further. This tune is one of my favorites off of Zaib Khan’s debut self-titled album. It’s called “The Wind,” enjoy. - HBC Vibes


"Soulful Harmony: Marietta brothers pursue dreams as musician, manager"

As is typical of many artists, there’s something inside them that craves free expression. Such was the case for Michael Zaib as he sat daydreaming during his college classes, thinking about writing songs and performing music.

“I was very unhappy spending my days in the classroom,” the Marietta resident said. “Music was always on my mind, and I wanted to play all the time. I was really scared to drop out, and I questioned myself a lot, asking, ‘Can I really do this?’”

When Khan finally decided to leave college and pursue his music full time, his parents’ reactions were as different as their cultural backgrounds.

Khan’s father, Tariq, is an engineer and a native of Pakistan, and his mother, Marie, is a schoolteacher from Atlanta.

“Dad’s always been very strict on schooling, and when I mentioned the idea I wanted to play music full time, he was a little upset,” Khan recalled. “He wanted me to finish and get my degree. My mom was a little more supportive. Her attitude was, and something I try to live by is, live what you love.”

It was also in his culturally diverse home where Khan was exposed to classical music from Pakistan and India through his father, and the Righteous Brothers and Elvis Presley through his mother.

“My grandmother handed down a stand-up Wurlitzer piano to our family, and my brother and sister took up lessons for a few years, but I always gravitated to the guitar,” he said. “My parents got me a second-hand guitar at fourteen, but it wasn’t until shortly after high school that my tastes in music started maturing, and I began discovering my affinity for classic R&B and soul music from the 1960s and 1970s.”

Khan, a South Cobb High School graduate, describes his music as a mix of country, soul and R&B. His debut release, a self-titled EP, “Zaib Khan,” is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

“My thing is, I like to write songs to paint a picture of everyday life,” he said. “I love giving simple stories a chance to be heard through music. At a show one night, my mother was there and she came and sat next to me and I was going through some things, and she said, ‘I think you need some prayer in your life,’ and I wrote a song about that, called ‘Mama Said.’ It’s about overcoming hurdles in life and overcoming your fear, and really stepping out and doing what you love in life.”

After years of playing open mic nights, restaurant gigs, weddings and private events, including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s annual “Forever Young Ball” and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson’s 100 millionth passenger celebration, Khan recently brought his younger brother, Jameel, on as his business manager.

“It really started with a casual conversation in the kitchen,” said Jameel, also a South Cobb grad and Georgia Tech alum. It was early September of last year when I was on my way out the door for Washington, D.C., where I had just finished my master’s degree from Johns Hopkins SAIS. He was telling me about his first album, his upcoming shows and thoughts on his career, and I was telling him about life in D.C. and my plans after graduation.”

With a background in business and journalism, Jameel began formulating a long-term strategy for his big brother, focused on leveraging more social media, producing new music videos and polishing his brand as an artist.

“The next day, I sent him a vision of what the next chapter of his career might look like and I suppose that’s when I officially became his manager,” Jameel said.

Since that fateful September day, the brothers have expanded Zaib’s touring schedule to include more venues in Georgia, as well as appearances in Nashville, D.C. and New York City. Today, Zaib will be a featured artist at NYC’s famous The Bitter End, New York City’s oldest rock club. It’s his third appearance in the Big Apple in as many months.

“We never would have imagined we’d be working together at this station in our lives,” Jameel said. “The office hamster wheel will always be there, but a chance to embark on something like this with your brother — creating music, traveling the country, building a grassroots organization and having this much fun — it’s hard to find all this in a job description.”

Zaib plans to release his second album next year and one day hopes to create his own label and publishing company.

“The high point in my career is right now; being a full-time songwriter and performer, working closely with my brother and raising my family. I’ve never been happier,” Zaib said. “I feel very fortunate to be doing what I love.”

For more about Zaib’s music and his shows, visit www.zaibkhan.com. - Marietta Daily Journal


Discography

MICHAEL ZAIB (EP 2015)
Country/Soul/R&B

1. Beautiful That You Are
2. The Wind
3. I'm Your Man
4. Black El Camino
5. My Apology
6. Mama Said

MICHAEL ZAIB (31)
Country/Soul/R&B

1. California
2. Bombs Over Head
3. Is
4. Rhythm of Love
5. Because of You

Photos

Bio

Georgia native Michael Zaib is a rising recording artist and touring singer-songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia, where he has been performing on the city's music scene for ten years.

Louisiana-born and Georgia-raised, carrying a voice reminiscent of Chris Stapleton, Amos Lee, and Sam Smith, Zaib blends the genres of soul, country, and R&B into smooth and soulful originals that invite you on his journey as a singer-songwriter.

With two records to his name—his 2017 "31" featuring five songs recorded at Atlanta's Spotlight and New York's Cove City studios, and his 2015 self-titled EP featuring hit singles "The Wind" and "MaMa Said"—Michael Zaib tours regularly across the Peach State, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., New York City and the City of Angels.

Band Members