Sofia B: Using her music as a platform for promoting social changeSection 4A, Entertainment Feature Thursday, May 28th, 2015
What do Itzhak Perlman, Kenny G, Cher, Lady Gaga and Toni Braxton all have in common besides being famous musicians? They all suffer from a disability or debilitating disease, but that hasn’t stopped them.
Many up-and-coming musicians share those same struggles but are not quite as well known as those just mentioned. One of those up-and-comers is singer/songwriter Sofia B, who recently toured throughout the U.K. with Norwegian singer-songwriter Siv Jakobsen.
Sofia B may not be a household name yet, but given her struggles thus far and how she has conquered them, it won’t be long.
Her affliction is what propelled her into the world of music when she attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. It was in her third year that Sofia B was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
I was hospitalized six times,” Sofia B said. “After having seven blood transfusions, I think I found a different kind of propellant to fuel my fire. I’ve been writing songs since I was 13, but until I got sick I figured I’d end up just working in the music business world. After I got sick, I started writing again after having writer’s block for about three years and what was coming out was vastly different from anything I’d ever written before.”
Sofia B was born in London then, at 3 months old, her family moved to Caracas. When life proved to be too dangerous in Venezuela her family moved back to London where she went to school and studied ballet and music.
“I did Ballet for about 10 years with The West London School of Dance,” Sofia B said. “I have always had a special place for ballet and classical music. Once I reached a certain age, I no longer felt comfortable portraying such hyper feminine roles; but I admire the strength and vulnerable lives of ballet dancers. I lost so much weight at one point due to my Crohn’s disease it hit home how much dancers put their bodies through for the sake of art.”
That dose of reality, and dealing with her own disease, is what gave Sofia B the idea for her video Friendly Little Ghost. She wrote the song, of the same name, back in her last year at Berklee. She also used a ballet dancer who suffers from the same disease in the video. Check out the video here: https://youtu.be/kIpmOsFWw7c
These days Sofia B seems to have her Crohn’s under control, in fact she seems to have overcome it with her current treatment.
“I’ll never know what triggered it or what could trigger it in the future,” Sofia B admitted. “I’m on an injection, which is an immune-suppressant called Humira, which has suppressed any flare ups so far. I think honestly I got lucky for recovering and bouncing back as quickly as I did and I definitely wouldn’t be anywhere without my parents, who were incredibly supportive.”
Supportive parents whose choice of music inspired Sofia B at an early age.
“I think the music that my parents played in the car really had an impact on me,” Sofia B confided. “My dad used to play Bryan Adams all the time. I’m really into his live versions of “The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You”, “Heaven”, “Summer of 69” and “When You Love Someone”. When my mum was driving we listened to Elvis’ “Love Me Tender” and “Jamaica Farewell”, when we moved from Caracas to London, so that song really has a special place in my heart.”
Sofia B seems to have a lot of heart when it comes to her music. She also seems to be following in her father’s footsteps regarding music, although at the moment music is not his given career.
“I was classically trained in violin,” Sofia B said. “I started playing when I was five and then I started to take voice lessons at about 12. When I turned 13 I decided to teach myself guitar but didn’t allow myself to take proper private lessons and to this day I don’t really know the name of the strings. I just wanted to have a real sense of freedom when writing. My dad is Lebanese and he actually also started out on violin and then got into the blues and rock ‘n’ roll and taught himself guitar. He’s a financial consultant and lives in between Beirut and Dubai, and he comes to visit my mum and my brother in London when he can. I hope one day me and my dad can do a show together.”
Sofia B’s newest album combines a few things that are near and dear to her heart, her father who played on her new album and Beruit.
“I just got back from recording my last album in Beirut, with a Lebanese producer called Raed El Khazen. He actually attended Berklee several years before me and my dad met him in Beirut after a blues night. I figured recording an album there with my dad would be a pretty special experience because it would live forever and it was an opportunity I couldn’t resist.”
Sofia B enjoyed tour life, experiencing life on the road for the first time and, believe it or not, she returned to a club that has hosted greats like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Adele and gave Sofia B her first paycheck.
“It’s actually funny,” Sofia B said. “My first ever paid gig was at The Troubadour in London and I haven’t had a chance to play there since I was 18. We got to finish up the tour there. Here I am 23 years old, perhaps a little haggard since then, ha ha, but I kind of get to come full circle. We had such a blast on the tour making new friends and getting to know the U.K. Not only was this my first ever tour but I also sort of felt like I was reliving my college experience on U.K. soil. We did some house shows in Manchester and I have to say I fell in love with the city.”
May 18, Sofia B released a new video for her latest single “Ice Cold Love” from the album In the City. The video was premiered on gigslutz.co.uk and was described as, “… a moving account of the end of a caustic relationship, and the search for happiness that follows. Filled with Sofia B’s soft, smooth vocals and folky, lilting melodies, “Ice Cold Love” is a charming, catchy offering that will lodge itself in your ears for days after listening.” Check out the video here: https://youtu.be/Uc1cWdwnxWo
For more information on Sofia B visit: http://www.sofiamusicofficial.com/ or www.facebook.com/sofiamusicpage and check out her YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCffM3MbVJKnVmHm9JZLekFQ
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