Sony Holland sings in a style that is both sophisticated and emotionally direct. Her interpretations of the great American songbook show a deep respect and love for the material while adding an unmistakable spark of personality. Originally from northern Minnesota, Sony fell in love with jazz while spending a year in Paris and has earned a devoted following worldwide with her renditions of standards, contemporary classics, and original songs. She has made California her home since 2003 although she now performs internationally, including extensive concert tours and residencies in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. Her CD Out Of This World 2009 is an intimate set of 13 songs which she brings together with impeccable musicianship.
Despite her sunny good looks Sony is a performer who knows what it is to pay her dues. She started her career on the streets of Fisherman’s Wharf and sang there in the wind, cold and rain, through good times and bad. “None of the other street musicians thought I would last, but I was determined to make a living out there.” That means spending hours singing when few tourists are about, simply to guard one’s turf. She explains, “I never minded the hostile elements or the slow nights because I understood that you need to put the time in to get your voice strong.” “People would constantly ask me what I was doing out there. They don’t understand how few well-paying jazz venues there are and how expensive it is for an independent musician to travel with a band.”
To keep herself working Ms. Holland often goes from playing a club like NYC’s Blue Note one night, to performing at a black-tie event the next… and then she’ll go out the following morning to sing for tips at a Nor-Cal Farmer’s Market! It keeps things interesting. “I always think of what my first bass player said. He was an old-timer who had toured with some of the biggest names in jazz and he’d tell me, “Whether you’re playing Carnegie Hall or a neighborhood dive, remember they’re all just joints.””
Partially to deal with the expense of traveling she encouraged her songwriting husband to beef up his jazz chops on the guitar. Now they often perform together in concert venues and cafes as a duo. “Jerry has a simple rhythmic approach to playing jazz tunes that audiences really enjoy even if they’re not huge jazz fans.” His compositions have also added freshness to her repertoire. On the current CD they include a wonderful Bossa Nova It’s An Understatement, a tribute to Carmel called By The Sea and the sultry swing number I’ll Lead The Way.
The core of the disc is made up of treasured jazz standards from the swinging Old Devil Moon to the dreamy Nearness Of You and from the sexy Summer Night to a powerhouse version of At Last.
Sony originally recorded Out Of This World several years ago for the sole purpose of selling to the tourists at Fisherman’s Wharf. Although the CD surprised her by getting excellent reviews and selling well through iTunes she has redone all of the vocals, remixed and repackaged it in preparation for its national release. “My singing has matured and so I jumped at this chance to improve on the original CD.” The results are impressive and prove that talent, time and dedication are what make an artist truly special.