Singer-songwriter Sonia Leigh has recently taken country music by storm. In fact, the words “Sonia Leigh” are two we now often hear on Sirius XM The Highway, buzzing around Nashville, and see frequently on social media. However, Sonia isn’t new to music and has been hard at work on her craft for some time, experiencing musical successes that long precede the current “Put It in Your Pocket” craze.
Growing up, Sonia was surrounded by music: her dad played guitar and wrote; her brother was a drummer; and her grandfather played guitar and sang. Additionally, Sonia was raised in a church where music had a dominant presence. From the time she was introduced to the art form, she was fascinated by it and urged her dad to play songs over and over while she sat in front of him in awe. Eventually, Sonia started dragging a guitar around and, by the time she was ten, her dad started teaching her chords. Immediately following these lessons on the guitar, Sonia realized her passion, picked up a pen, and also started to write.
While Sonia has found a home in Nashville and has been warmly embraced by country music, she has always been quite versatile in her writing. Sonia proclaimed, “I love all kinds of music. I write all kinds of music.” Despite her love and appreciation for all music, Sonia’s roots are what drove her to hang her hat in the genre we all love so dearly. “I grew up on country. My grandfather sang Hank Williams; he sounded just like him. My dad wrote a lot of country and exposed me to a lot of country at a very young age.” Sonia’s home was also filled with the likes of George Strait, Alabama, Garth Brooks, and Travis Tritt. Sonia also recalled a point in her childhood when she first discovered Faith Hill and she would sit in front of her radio and “jam on ‘Wild One.'”
On the topic of influences, Sonia also departed from country music, listing artists such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bruce Springsteen, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Rolling Stones, and Neil Young. I shared with Sonia that, in my opinion, her music spotlights this plethora of influences and displays her versatility, to which she replied:
Good. I hope that that does shine through, and I’m proud of that, you know, because I think that this generation that’s coming through and the new music that’s happening, there is a lot of history of music behind us. And, I think that it’s evolving and that’s a good thing. That means we’re influenced by the things that are around us, and it’s bound to affect the style of music that’s being made because the longer the time goes on, the more history of music there is and that’s influencing our youth even today. In ten years, twenty years, they’re going to be influenced by this generation.
While we were on the subject of the evolution of music, we discussed the deviation country has taken and the introduction of sub-genres, including hick-hop and country rock. Sonia excitedly stated, “I think that’s great! I think all music is art; it’s another form of art. And just about in every other kind of format there are sub-genres that have been created and I think that that’s important for all music to have a home, and I think that it’s all relevant and all important.”
Lucky for us here at #CMchat and all other fans of country music, Sonia’s music has found a home within this genre and she has shared, and continues to share, her talents with us in a myriad of ways. Not only has Sonia used her gifts to pave her own path to success, but she has also been pivotal in helping others form their own paths to greatness. Sonia described herself as relentless and, between her drive and ability to network and form friendships with others, amazing opportunities have been presented. She met Zac Brown of Zac Brown Band (pre-“Chicken Fried”) when she was playing with a band at a restaurant in Georgia. Sonia and Zac became friends and, through that friendship, she met many other artists. Ultimately, Sonia had a hand in writing two Zac Brown Band #1 hits — “Goodbye In Her Eyes” and “Sweet Annie.” Sonia can’t help but express her gratitude for the opportunities to write these songs, as she stated that she had just heard “Sweet Annie” on the radio earlier in the day. “To hear that on the radio, you know, I’ve been doing this for awhile, and to hear it — it’s a sense of accomplishment. It feels good.”
When it comes to songwriting, specifically, Sonia is always prepared for the sessions that await her. Whether it is a storyline idea, a few lines, or a verse and chorus already written, this hard worker enters the room with a goal in mind. Sonia explained that her current noteworthy single “Put It in Your Pocket” was a “mutual baby” of hers and writer/producer, Bobby Huff. During that particular session (which took place on June 10th of this year), Bobby walked in with the track already made and the lyrics easily came together for the pair. A couple of hours later, one of Sirius XM The Highway’s Top 45 songs was born. When asked about how it feels to experience the success of a singer-songwriter with this track, Sonia laughed and said:
That honestly, that’s probably one of the most rewarding things. It gets me excited and pumped up, you know? You work really hard, and when you work really hard for something and you start to see results and fruitfulness, it’s rewarding. I love it. And to hear my song on the radio and see people tweeting about it and helping us continue to get it played on The Highway, it’s special to me.
The first time Sonia heard her song on the radio, she was driving back to Nashville from North Carolina and, when I asked if she sang along, without skipping a beat she exclaimed, “I sure did!” It sounds like Sonia will have many more of these exciting radio moments, as the hit-maker is already anticipating the release of her next song. If this isn’t enough to look forward to, Sonia also shared that “Put It in Your Pocket” will be hitting the United Kingdom and making a run at the UK country charts.
In closing, Sonia left us with a very important message about her work ethic and passion for the music industry.
I’m a hard worker. I’m committed to making music. That’s what I live and breathe, eat and sleep. . . . I love all kinds of music and I want people to be encouraged to make the music they want to make because you gotta follow your intuition and your artistic vision and voice first. That right there is the most important thing in the world, is to just be true to whatever you want to do to make you happy, you can do it. You know? Follow that. Follow your dreams.
To keep up with Sonia, follow her on Twitter @SoniaLeigh, Instagram @SoniaLeigh, and Facebook at Facebook.com/SoniaLeighMusic. And, good news for New York and Georgia fans, Sonia will be headed your way! On August 7th, Sonia will be in Huntington, New York (with Blackberry Smoke) at The Paramount; on August 14th, Sonia will be in Clifton Park, New York (with Blackberry Smoke) at Upstate Concert Hall; and on August 21st, Sonia will be in Decatur, Georgia (with The Muddy Magnolias) at Eddie’s Attic. Let us know if you are able to catch any of Sonia’s shows by following us on Twitter @CMchatLIVE.
Thank you again to the amazing, humble, gracious, and talented Sonia Leigh for taking time out of her busy schedule to speak with me about this exciting time in her life. Our team looks forward to continuing to follow her and her story, as we know she has a long, bountiful road ahead. And for those of you who are just meeting Sonia now, remember her name and put it in your pocket, as this is one artist you will be hearing about in the years to come.
Let me know what you think of Sonia Leigh’s “Put It in Your Pocket” by following me on Twitter @JenSwirsky.
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