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Winner in the Best Talent category at The Global Beauty Awards 2019, Sonia finds her true calling on stage and totally thrives off of the audiences’ energy. You can follow her music and emceeing journey through the social links below.
Featured Image Courtesy: Siddhartha Saha Photography
How did you come to the United States? for work, studies or as a dependent?
I came to the US after getting married. My husband, Ashish Keshwani, worked for a Pune based company called Cybage Inc., consulting for Microsoft, and that’s what got us to the gorgeous Pacific Northwest. The place has been home since then…
How did you get started on music? Have you had any formal training in music?
I’ve been a music aficionado since my childhood years. Music for me has always been meditative… that’s one place where I lose myself, to find myself!
I’ve been formally training in Hindustani Classical for several years now, and still continue to take my lessons as seriously as one can imagine! There’s no substitute to directed learning and hard work, and I owe it all to my guru Ajit Subrahmanian. I also intermittently resort to Western vocal sessions to expand my repertoire.
How and when did your musical journey start here in the US?
I participated in a local singing contest, called C.R.Y. Idol, back in 2007… got to meet several talented musicians and singers at that point, and we ended up forming a local music band called High Octavez. That was the beginning of my humble music journey in the US. Thereafter, like they say, one thing leads to the next… In 2013, I co-founded a group called Jingles along with a few other music enthusiasts, with the charter to perform as well as promote young and budding local talent. It was only in 2016 that I took to independent artistry, and started creating my own music covers and originals. That was also the time I took to anchoring and applying my orator skills on the stage.
Tell us a bit about your life here in the US and your family .
I’m blessed to be part of an extremely supportive family. Ashish, my much better half, is directly involved in many of my productions, managing the camera and calling the shots. Working together makes it twice the fun! I’ve two little girls, Arushi and Anushka, that I dote on… they both take to music and inspire me every day in all I do.
I don’t come from a performing arts background at all, my father is a Cardiologist and mother a dedicated home maker. I feel extremely grateful for the way my parents and in-laws have supported my journey in the field of arts, despite it being a new walk for them. I entirely owe this musical voyage 🎼 to my family and friends!
Are you in conventional employment?
I work at Expedia Inc. as a Senior Product Manager, and absolutely love my job. I feel I am able to apply several principles from my work to the field of music, and vice versa, whether it is dealing with ambiguity and bias for action, or team work and influencing without direct authority! The project at hand changes shape and form, it might be Expedia during the day and music during the weekends, but all the same rules apply as you define your goals and create an action plan.
How do you balance your family, work, and music?
I like to believe 24 hours is a muscle we can flex to our advantage. All it takes is careful prioritizing and knowing what’s important to you. I like to maintain a Vision Board where I plot things I’d like to achieve on the personal front, work front as well as music front over the course of the year… this literally includes the specific vacations I’d like to take, the projects I’d like to work on and so forth. That way, there’s an inherent balance set in my mind, right off of the bat. The rest is really a prioritization exercise… you do that on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, and on a longer term basis.
Another trick that really works is to constantly look for ways you can overlap things. E.g. I’ve a relatively long commute to work, and very commonly I go through my audio/video edits or write my emcee scripts whilst sitting in the bus! What I am trying to say is, if you’re truly passionate about something, you’ll figure out ways to make it happen… not to mention the universe supports you when you’re in that frame of mind– energy flows, where attention goes!
What is your inspiration to pursue music actively, despite being in a full time job?
Music for me is an immersive experience and I am grateful for every minute of it. When you listen to your inner calling, and do things that make you happier on the inside, it in fact makes you a saner person with everything else you do and improves your productivity, as cliched as it may sound. Happy people make happy parents, and better employees too!
It’s hard for me to describe in words, but the process of music creation is my state of ‘Zen’. I am on this path purely for the love of the journey, and that remains my biggest inspiration.
Any advice for people trying to pursue their passion?
My advice honestly would be to not feel scared of starting small. You don’t need to hit the bonanza in the first go! Just remember that those tiny, little baby steps matter – they add up to something big if you keep going. What matters is continual progress, if not big leaps…
Most commonly, it is the ‘start’ that ‘stops’ us. So, buckle up, and start somewhere… today!
What are some of your most memorable gigs and proud moments?
I was honored to get to anchor the revered A.R. Rahman music concert in Seattle! That was a dream come true… I’ve also been fortunate to share the stage with Pritam Chakraborty, the Bollywood maestro, and his phenomenal band when they performed in Seattle. More recently, I hosted ‘The Power of One’, a unique talk show featuring Bollywood celebrities Saif Ali Khan and Jaaved Jaaferi.
Some of my most fulfilling onstage moments also come from being the show host at Ravishing Miss/Mrs. India WA/OR (and now Canada) for the past 6 years. I take pride in the organization for its motto to encourage and empower women through various undertakings. Last but not the least, getting to perform in front of the iconic Jatin Pandit and Lalit Pandit, over independent occasions in the same year, will remain memorable too.
What plans do you have for your musical future?
This year the focus will be on collaborations and taking it to the next level in terms of reaching the mass audience. I am teeing together a few potential projects, and want to really push myself in terms of learning and working with music virtuosos I’ve always looked up to. The year looks exciting and I can’t wait for everything to unfold!
Overall – music is all about the joy of sharing… I want to continue creating good music and performing live, want to continue to spread the wings of my musical reach in terms of the lives I touch. I look forward to working with people who have inspired me in the field of music, and totally look forward to the learnings and growth. My fuel is the journey… the destination will take care of itself.
A few accolades that I am proud of:
The Global Beauty Awards 2019 – Best Talent Winner
Be A Star with Pritam 2018 – WA State Winner
IFAB Music Awards 2018 – Best Female Singer Award Winner
Meri Aawaz Suno America Season II – Runner up
Indian American Icon 2019 (Country Icon) – Runner Up, 3iii 2019
You can find Sonia at: