Raquel Sofía: 20 ft. from stardom to center stage
September 16, 2015
If you haven’t heard the supple chimes of Raquel Sofia’s voice, pause your reading now and play her album Te Quiero Los Domingos (I Love You On Sundays). Once you listen to her voice, her gift for melody will be released into your system and spread quickly through your veins, leaving behind a portrait of Raquel: a friendly, stylish and Zen-lady that has only ever wanted to share her music with the world. You will see why NPR invited her to participate in their Tiny Desk concert series, she was chosen to preform at the Latin Grammy Billboard awards, is featured on Spotify’s Spotlight on 2015 Latino list, showcased on Game of Thrones “Catch the Throne” and currently on tour.
It all began with a curly haired seven-year old girl in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico running around singing while clutching a notebook filled with poems and aspirations of becoming an artist. Raquel’s dreams were unsettling to a family of scientists and professors, but they could never dissuade her from what she describes as her only passion, “there was and never has been a plan B”. Eight years later, her father decided to learn how to play the guitar, the same man that used to play Elton John, James Taylor and Beatles records around the house, naturally Raquel chose to join him. Now she plays guitar, piano and bass guitar. Talk about a sultry, artistic soul.
She began to pursue her career at the University of Miami, where she studied jazz thanks to a deeply rooted obsession with Ella Fitzgerald. There she met her two band members Taylor and Brian, whom she describes as two Americans submersed in the Latin American music scene; genuine guys that have endured the best and the worst with her on stage, a band for life. Jazz student by day, struggling musician playing covers in darkly lit venues by night, Raquel was finally discovered and got her start as a backup singer for Juanes. She then went on tour with him, travelled the world, got hit up by Shakira’s crew, toured with her and finally signed as a solo artist with Sony and came out with her debut album Te Quiero Los Domingos.
Raquel has graced almost every inch of the stage and rose from the trenches, but she pledges that after her first tour she was convinced that her dreams had not misled her, that performances encompass the best hours of her life and that there is nothing else she would rather be doing. Raquel relishes being on tour, she claims to be a band type of girl, because “there is nothing like living and traveling with your best friends”. She says that tours drive her and that she’s always “restless to jump on them and then restless to get home, things eventually get dirty and I miss my dogs”.
As for the music, her songs are autobiographical, which is partially what makes them relatable. They are seductive, honest and playful. Our favorite, is “Te Amo Idiota” or “I Love You Idiot” which conveys the stubbornness of the heart after a break up. When we asked her about its origins she detailed the birth of a soon to be classic, “all of my songs are extremely personal, they tell stories about people I’ve met, people I’ve loved and hated. They are my way of venting. I wrote “Te Amo Idiota” with a broken heart, when I felt as if it had been run over by a Hummer, it wrote itself, it came out of my pores. I try not to force it. If it doesn’t come out naturally, then it simply isn’t meant to be. Writing with other people sometimes helps, but I like to maintain my voice alive. I like to play and write about everyday life. I think it’s important to maintain a sense of humor as well.”
Raquel’s easygoing approach to music is sincere, because isn’t the daily grind what gets to us? Don’t we all just put on our favorite tunes after a long day just to unwind, sit back and let go of it all? Music is about connecting and sharing similar emotions with a multitude of strangers. It’s universal and it has no language. Raquel’s English speaking fans often write her saying things like “I don’t know what you’re saying but I love your songs. I don’t understand them but I can truly feel them” which simply validates her hard work. Raquel recounts that when people write to her and tell her how she’s helped them, those moments equate to everything for her, especially when she stands on stage and people go crazy singing her songs. She confesses that those moments account for everything; the rough stages in her career, the competition, the grind and even the male chauvinism inherent in the Latin music industry.
On a more feminist note, Raquel is looking to revolutionize Latin American music; an industry that she thinks remains quite conservative. Latin America within itself, she states, is a traditionalist culture in which little girls are brainwashed to fit a certain model from a young age and when they decide to become an artist and play guitar or go outside the box, they are escaping the path that was drawn for them. They are rebels to be frowned upon. In the Latin American Industry, women can only be sexy if they are submissive. They can’t have sexual lyrics while the very popular, male-led reggaeton is a vulgarity in itself. Raquel aspires to be a role model for the girls that want to be more than accessories, she then clarifies “I don’t care about those restrictions; I want little girls to become whatever they want: artists, rock and roll stars. I want them to play instruments and do what they please. I want to inspire them”.
And inspire she does. Raquel is a sight to behold; her half shaven head, individual style and captivating eyelashes take one’s breath away. It is really all quite simple, Raquel Sofía, is the bomb. Her music is explosive. She doesn’t give a fu*k about Latin American standards for women, her love and passion for music is legit and most importantly she has talent. She has found herself broke and almost out on the street with her guitar and combat boots all the while sporting a smile on her face, because she has already managed to touch people and that is the only thing that she truly cares about. Raquel believes in music and the connections it grants, its power to heal a broken heart and when it comes to her own repertoires, they ultimately remind her and her audience that music is supposed to be fun.
Follow Raquel on Instagram @raquelsofia