There is a moment within any career when everything changes. Sometimes that moment of truth comes when you walk in a building for day one of a new job. Other times a person possibly served as an intern for a while, and after a period of time the career becomes a reality. Most of us who have experienced this reality can testify that the moment coincides with receiving your first dollar for services rendered. There are great differences between the music industry and other industries. How a person enters, how long they stay, and the various ways an individual can make money provides the music industry with its unique nature. Nevertheless, there is one similarity between the music industry and other types of employment a person might choose: individuals start at the bottom and work their way up. Most musicians refer to this period as “paying your dues”.
Growing up with my jazz musician father I heard that term, “paying your dues” too much and a little too early in life. Or maybe not! Once I got older and a little wiser I realized that my father was teaching me a little less about music and more about life. To some extent we all “pay our dues” in one way or another. Most definitely the musician understands that term all too well, as I will discuss in this post. This week I was reminded about paying dues as I prepared for Weekly Music Commentary. I am featuring a young artist who is ready for the solo spotlight, after some years of paying dues. This week I am featuring singer/songwriter and rising Latin music sensation Raquel Sofia.
Why feature Raquel Sofia? Why feature her this week? I think it might be best to answer the second question first.
Several months ago I was preparing a story for the Florida Music Letter about the Festival Miami 2015, the annual music festival presented by the University Of Miami Frost School Of Music. I went over the lineup of artists scheduled and one really stood out, Raquel Sofia. There were so many compelling parts to her story I just had to learn more about her. New artist, new album, and many industry insiders speaking about her talent. However, the overall reason I am featuring her this week is that she is performing next weekend, Saturday, October 17, 2015 at the Festival Miami.
I have attended concerts at the Gusman Concert Hall on the University of Miami campus before, and enjoyed the intimate feel of the 600 seat hall. For young Raquel Sofia this concert will feel different than just a concert on a college campus. Why? Raquel Sofia is graduate of the Frost School of Music. Obviously, Raquel must be feeling a wide range of emotions leading up to this concert. For now, let me give all of you reading a little introduction to Raquel Sofia.
Raquel Sofia Borges is an extremely talented singer/songwriter from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Following her graduation from the University of Miami, Sofía performed backing vocals to Juanes, Shakira and Jean Carlos Canela on tour. In 2013, she was featured in advertisements for Target and in 2014 signed to Sony Music Latin releasing her first solo EP and debut album earlier this year. Raquel Sofía also received a nomination for Best New Artist at the 16th Latin Grammy Awards.
Some may look at Raquel Sofia’s background and feel that she really didn’t pay many dues in regard to her music career. I think the dues were definitely there, but not so much a scratching and clawing through the backdoor of the music scene to make it to the top. However, graduating from University of Miami on a music scholarship is not an easy task. I’m positive young Raquel Sofia was challenged to be the best musician possible while working through the tough curriculum at Frost School of Music. Then she worked as a background singer for very talented Juanes and Shakira. Most interesting is the fact that surely Raquel Sofia possessed the talent even during her time background singing. That experience was necessary in order for others to realize her talent level. Paying dues? Absolutely!
Raquel certainly has the music world buzzing about her after displaying her abilities throughout her new album. Grammy award winning producer George Noriega has an interesting viewpoint of Raquel Sofia. He said, “Raquel Sofia is one of those rare artists that come along only once in a generation… She not only has an enormous amount of talent as a singer and as a songwriter but also delivers it in a unique way that defies genres and labels… Don’t even try to confine her into one musical box… Her style can only be described as ‘Raquel Sofia’”. Juanes added, “Raquel Sofía is the breath of fresh air that Latin Pop needs”.
Even though I am a blogger who is not governed by musical genres, my library does not include much Latin music. Of course, living in Miami provides easy access to the best of today’s Latin music, but I’m just not a big casual listener. I did take time to listen to Raquel Sofia’s entire album Te Quiero Los Domingos [I Love You on Sundays]. As I listened carefully, I could hear what many others were hearing from the budding star. That very eclectic, jazz-infused alternative rock sound is more than enough to give most music fans a pleasant listening experience. Even if you don’t understand Spanish.
Now after time spent as a music major at the University of Miami, singing backup for Shakira and Juanes, Raquel Sofia is ready to take her place at the front of the stage, back at the familiar stage in Gusman Concert Hall. Dues paid in full.
* photo by Amanda Julca