Written by Laura Goldfarb
Sonia Rao is constantly on the road, bringing her multi-instrumental talents - she grew up studying violin, piano, guitar, and flute - into the world of alternative pop. The Indian-American artist's songs have been featured on more than 35 shows including MTV’s Jersey Shore, ABC’s The Vineyard, and CBS' The Bold and The Beautiful. Through a uniquely direct and loyal relationship with her fans and the successful use of crowdfunding, Sonia has independently raised over $40,000 to fund the recording of three albums. But dig into Sonia’s music and you’ll discover she’s an ever-forward-moving vessel of inspiration. Appropriately, at a recent TEDx conference, she was asked to perform and speak about gender equality, just one of the issues she holds dear.
Sonia released her third studio album, Meet Them At The Door in August 2016. The 9-song album was recorded in Nashville, TN with producer Alex Wong (Delta Rae, Vienna Teng), and mastered by Brian Malouf (Colbie Caillat, Natasha Bedingfield). Sonia and Alex proved to be kindred spirits in the studio and the result is a genuinely heartfelt pop album with a classic vibe.
Meet Them At The Door showcases Sonia’s piano skills and soulful voice (which both CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera praised her for when she appeared on Season 1 of NBC’s The Voice). She gives us a glimpse of how she sees love, loss, and life in what’s become her signature way -- vulnerable and inspiring. “I wanted this album to sound extremely personal, up-close, the kind you listen to when you’re driving home at the end of the night,” she says, “because that’s how I was feeling when I wrote these songs.”
Songs like “Minneapolis” and “Let Her Go” are empowering personal anthems, guiding listeners to let go of their doubts. They also brilliantly double as the kind of breakup songs that you don’t need a broken heart to blast on your stereo. In songs like “Stick Around,” written in honor of a friend’s younger brother who took his own life, and “I Wanted The World,” Sonia simply yet beautifully encourages her listeners to push through. She sings from personal experience, laying it all out on the table, recommending we take it one day at a time because things will get better.
Meet Them At The Door follows Sonia’s 2013 sophomore album, Los Angeles. Los Angeles told the story of Sonia’s move from San Francisco to Los Angeles, her brave stance against her Indian American family’s career expectations for her, as well as the wild ride of her experiences on reality TV. Following the album’s release, Sonia extensively toured the US and internationally, including concentrated time in Indonesia and Japan. Her official video for single “You Say I” was featured on MTV India, and songs from Los Angeles, as well as Sonia’s debut album, Calm Her, have since appeared on numerous television shows including The Jersey Shore, Underemployed and Married to Jonas.
Although Los Angeles is an honest statement, Sonia feels that Meet Them At The Door is her most transparent work yet. “I’ve become less filtered in my life, my conversations, and my songwriting,” she says. “I think that’s evident on this album.” Moving into 2016, Sonia plans to take her new songs on the road for a national release tour set to kick off on August 3rd and culminate with a performance at TEDxLA on December 2nd.