Few artists embody the mulit-facets of musicality, personality and sensitivity in such a well-rounded way as Soraya. A songwriter, guitarist, arranger, producer, and singer, Soraya is blessed with a distinctive, sensual voice. From the first notes of her songs, you simply know it’s her – it couldn’t be anyone else.

Throughout the rise of her career, Soraya’s music has been praised in many different ways – as organic, original, incisive, and poetic. Her music is known for its timeless melodies, but also for thought-provoking, down-to-earth lyrics.

Epiphone's Don Mitchell recently had the chance to chat with Soraya about her musical background, career and her personal battle with cancer.

EPI: Tell me how you got started in music and playing guitar?

SORAYA: I heard my uncle playing while we were living in Colombia and I just fell in love with music. I begged my dad to get me a guitar and then I just somehow knew what to do. I was 5 years old at that time.

EPI: Was this your earliest recollection of being drawn to music?

SORAYA: Yes, at that early point in my life I was fascinated by the relationship between voice and guitar and I understood the music that I was hearing. My uncle played Colombian traditional folk music which is very guitar and "storytelling" based.

EPI: Are other members of your family musical?

SORAYA: Just my uncle... although my parents were huge music fans. Music was always playing in our home and during every family gathering.

EPI: As you grew musically, were there any artists in particular that inspired you to think, "I want to do that"?

SORAYA: Sting, first with the Police and then solo, just blew me away as did Peter Gabriel. I was convinced that someday I would write a song like ‘In Your Eyes”.

EPI: Tell me about your first performance.

SORAYA: My first performances were in my family’s living room! I was the entertainment when my parents would have friends over! My first "public" performance however was as a violinist at Carnegie Hall and my debut as a singer-songwriter was in a small club near where I went to college.

EPI: You said that your uncle influenced you to move toward guitar but what is it about guitar that you like?

SORAYA: I love the sound of the instrument, how responsive it is and how it blends with my voice. I also love how you can just pick it up at any time.

EPI: You have been critically acclaimed not only as a performer but as a writer as well. When did you write your first song?

SORAYA: I was sooo young—the song was terrible, something about my first dog!

EPI: Do you write primarily on guitar?

SORAYA: I write on the guitar primarily but sometimes on piano and other stringed instruments like the Colombian tiple.

EPI: What was it like to be the opening act for the 2005 Billboard Latin Music Awards?

SORAYA: It was a lot of fun. I had a blast performing.

EPI: You played your red Epiphone Wildkat. What is it you like about that guitar?

SORAYA: It’s very responsive, it feels great, plus it just looks so hot on stage!

EPI: By the way, congratulations on being awarded the 2004 Latin Grammy for Singer-Songwriter!

SORAYA: Thank you, I was thrilled! At first I thought that they must have made a mistake counting the votes... but then when I finally received the Grammy, I was just overwhelmed. I have worked so hard to evolve my craft and it felt great to get the industry’s recognition. Now I am nominated for best female pop album for “El otro lado de mi”. It just feels so good to know that your work is getting noticed.

EPI: Do you prefer live performance or the studio?

SORAYA: They are 2 different monsters. I love the energy of a live show. My shows are 100% live so there are always technical things one must deal with, the human factor or forgetting a lyric or missing a note and then just the pure fun of improvising off of the band and the audience. I love all of that! The studio is more controlled and it allows me to create and develop my ideas.

EPI: You have produced your own projects, have you or do you have any aspirations to produce others?

SORAYA: Right now I’m alright with producing my own work and writing for others. I’ve done some outside projects and later, when my work slows down a bit I would love to do more.

EPI: You have been very outspoken about your battle with cancer. Against all odds you were able to beat this illness and triumphantly return to the stage. What would you say to others who may be going through the same battle?

SORAYA: It has been a very difficult experience but fortunately one that I have been able to pull some positive growth from. In the face of hardship and uncertainty, I have been able to evolve not only as a musician and songwriter but also as a woman and human being. To others... I would urge them to hold onto every ounce of hope that they have. Get informed and be educated not only about your disease but about the treatments and how you can help your own body to heal. My involvement with the Komen Foundation as well as other groups has profoundly affected my life. More than words, I offer them my example of how a quality filled life can still be had even after a cancer diagnosis.

EPI: I have seen you a lot with your Epiphone Masterbilt EF-500R acoustic guitar. How do you like it?

SORAYA: I love it! It is a workhorse. It has travelled with me throughout my entire tour and has held up like a champion

EPI: Who did the awesome graphics on the front?

SORAYA: That would be me! I was scribbling one day and decided to move my ideas onto the front of that guitar!! I wanted it to look like a sea-inspired tattoo.

EPI: What is next for you?

SORAYA: Right now we are off to do some concerts in Latin America, then back to the U.S. for more touring and more cancer activism events. Hopefully by December I’ll be on vacation!

 

For more information about Soraya visit www.Soraya.com.

 

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