Sonia Rao

Sonia Rao

There’s something charming about Sonia Rao, the Los Angeles-based indie pop singer/songwriter who’s received praise from CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera on the purity and soulfulness of her voice. Although classically trained on violin at age five and piano at age seven, she didn’t grow up with dreams of becoming a pop star nor a TV star, and unlike many of her peers, she didn’t go to college to pursue music. Rather, as the daughter of Indian American immigrants, Sonia was encouraged to seek a career outside of music and went to UC Berkeley to study Psychology; she didn’t write a single song until after graduating. Sonia’s college boyfriend unexpectedly passed away and to process his death she found herself for the first time writing song after song. “Music was my catharsis,” she says. “I never talked to anyone about his death, but in writing these songs I realized I had something to say.” These songs would later become her debut full-length album, Calm Her, released independently in 2011.

It is that genuine, instinctual human need to tell a story that has propelled Sonia Rao to continue to grow and explore as an artist. Sonia and artists like Bon Iver, Feist and Rachael Yamagata have something very special in common; they create music that moves us in such an intimate way that it feels and sounds as though it’s just the two of us alone in a room while they sing and play a single instrument. With that moment in mind, Sonia wrote the songs to her forthcoming five-song EP, Los Angeles Part 1, alone on guitar or piano. She then brought the songs to Evan Hillhouse, who added drums, guitar, bass and keyboard. All songs were produced, engineered and mastered by Josh Doyle at 3 Theory Productions in Van Nuys, CA, except for “Los Angeles,” which was engineered by Kurt Piar at Proving Ground Studios in LA. Sonia’s sophomore album, Los Angeles Part 1, will independently release on September 17, 2013.

Los Angeles Part 1 is an album for anyone in transition, be it between loves, careers, homes, or those on the verge of truly knowing themselves. The EP was written over the last two years, during Sonia’s self-proclaimed “epitome of new beginnings and transition.” She moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, challenged her Indian American family’s expectations, fell in love, fell into LA’s tumultuous love-hate cycle, and experienced the whirlwind of reality TV with an appearance on Season 1 of NBC’s The Voice. In that time, Sonia also performed duets with Daniel Bedingfield and Elliott Yamin, and both MTV and E! featured her music on their TV shows including Jersey Shore, Underemployed and Married to Jonas.

This summer, Sonia Rao will launch a Kickstarter campaign to involve fans in the release of Los Angeles Part 1 as well as to raise proceeds for the recording of Los Angeles Part 2. Additionally, singles and accompanying music videos for “You Say I” and “Little Blue Room” will be released, and she will tour throughout the US.

It is no wonder that Music Connection Magazine’s December 2012 issue named Connie as one of the hottest unsigned live acts to watch for. Connie is known for her warm vocal tone, eclectic pop songwriting, unexpected lyrics, soothing melodies and hypnotic rhythms inspired by rock, electronica, and hip hop.
 
Connie has the ability to sing in a soft, sultry voice with undeniable vocal tone, then seamlessly transitions into her strong belting voice to guide listeners through her songs’ rises and falls. The music behind her vocals follows her lead and also displays this dynamic range and movement, from flirtatious melody-driven verses to seductively beat-driven hooks.  It's almost as if she relives her coming of age transformation every time she's on stage, blossoming from the quiet kid who felt out of place into the risk-taking musician that she is today.

Behind the scenes, Connie’s work ethic is relentless. She is constantly crafting her songs and performances. Her transformation from year to year is palpable, as each song is leaps and bounds more revealing than the one before it.

Sean Krausz

Caroline Brooks

Raised in Tyler, Texas, Caroline Brooks' childhood home was saturated with the pop melodies of artists such as Paul Simon, Queen, and The Beatles. Her love of music led her to Austin’s University of Texas where she was a member of the a cappella group, Ransom Notes. After leaving UT, Caroline moved to Los Angeles to collaborate with songwriters such as Jim Collins (Kenny Chesney's "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy") and Phredley Brown (Bruno Mars’ Music Director). She started touring nationwide, developing loyal fanbases in cities as diverse as Austin, Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles.

With a sound reminiscent of Sara Bareilles and OneRepublic, Caroline released her debut self-titled EP in 2010. The industry took notice of her innate sense of song structure and melody, prompting ASCAP President Paul Williams to say, "[Caroline] is really, really talented. I predict a very successful career." Soon, offers for TV, film, and commercial placements began coming in. This led to her song "Parachute" being featured in a trailer for Kate Hudson’s film "A Little Bit of Heaven”. In April 2013, she released her single “Tomorrow, Tonight,” which spread rapidly after receiving enthusiastic press from sources including Entertainment Tonight, AOL, Artists on Demand, In Magazine (Releasing in July), and Huffington Post. In addition to her work as an artist, Caroline volunteers as a songwriting mentor for The 24 Foundation - a foundation providing art therapy for at-risk youth. She is currently working on new material to be released later this year.

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Sonia Rao with Connie Lim, Sean Krausz, Caroline Brooks

Friday, September 20 · 9:00 PM at Hotel Utah

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