SONiA & Disappear Fear Come To Ashland
Baltimore-based singer & songwriter SONiA has performed in Israeli bomb shelters and Palestinian villages and now brings her music back to Ashland to celebrate the release of her 14th album
GayRVA caught up with Baltimore-based SONiA to talk about her travels, music and new CD “Blood, Bones, and Baltimore.”
GayRVA: How did you end up performing in bomb shelters and villages in Palestine?
SONiA: I’ve toured Israel before and was invited to perform at World Pride in Jerusalem. Other acts had pulled out because of bombings. I had friends in Israel saying, “please come” and my friends over here saying, “don’t go.” The idea of Disappear Fear is bigger than being a cool name. To live with those words and feel good, it was important to go to Israel, so I went. If I got hit by a bomb and didn’t live, then I would have been true to myself – thank god that didn’t happen.
What inspires you to travel?
It’s the antiquity and spirituality. How the sunlight hits the water. There’s something incredible when I go to Israel because, partly, I’m Jewish. It’s something powerful that connects with me in a deep way. I just feel very alive when I’m there. I don’t think I’m the only one that says that. You’re very much in touch with the value of your life when you’re in that environment.
What inspired you to record world music on your last album t a n g o?
I had the opportunity to perform in the West Bank to 150 young girls singing mostly in Spanish and English. That was part of the inspired me to record the CD Tango in Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic, and English.
My original intention was to create a CD and translate songs that I recording in the past into Spanish, but when I was in the Middle East, I was really writing about my experiences there. Being in the second Lebanon war, I was very moved by the situation. It made sense to move the CD from a Spanish music CD to a world music CD.
Where did your band’s name, Disappear Fear, come from?
When you disappear fear, you get love. As an out gay person I’ve noticed a lot of people have confusion about love, but it’s really pretty simple.
Tell us about the new CD Blood, Bombs, and Baltimore.
I wanted to make it as rootsy and Baltimore as I could. We recorded most of it in one day in the studio. We rehearsed a lot, but when we recorded, we played as an ensemble. It’s exciting and unusual in the modern recording process to record as an ensemble.
I’ve been playing songs like “Biggest Static Heart” live for years but have never gotten into the studio to do it.
It gave me a chance to explore some different textures with clarinet, violin, and saxophone.
You have an art show going on now too. Tell us about your art.
I’ve spent most of my days this week actually painting. I haven’t done many gallery shows of my art, so I’m excited to do this one in Ashland. My paintings are all about color. Sometimes they’ll have a guitar mixed into them and sometimes there’s a spiritual theme as well.
How do your music and paintings parallel?
They definitely go hand-in-hand whether you’re talking about color or an instrument and melody. It’s definitely all from the same bucket. Mostly when I’m speaking with musicians I’m speaking in colors and textures. I probably describe my art paintings in terms of music too. Words like vibrant, melancholy, or dull – they all kind of combine and are at the same point of creation.
So you’re bringing your show to Richmond?
One of my favorite places to play is Ashland Coffee and Tea. The sound guys good. I always look forward to playing. Ashland always has a special place. I have a connection to the area. My first gay relationship was consummated in Ashland, so there’s always this romantic place in my heart when I think of the town.
SONiA performs at Ashland Coffee & Tea on 100 N. Railroad Ave. on Friday, March 12 at 8 p.m.
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