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
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
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
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
EPI: You played
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
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.
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
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
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
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