Our exclusive interview with music’s new IT girl Sonna Rele
You’ve seen her on the pages of Asiana magazine over the last few years. In 2011 we tipped her as One To Watch and two years later we’re proud to say we were right! Aman Dahele catches up with the soulful singing sensation in her new home – LA!
Ok. Were about to reveal a story that sounds more like a fairytale that belongs on the shelves of a library than one that’s actual REAL but it is!
Sonna Rele dubbed the Asian Alicia Keys grew up in the north London suburb of Kinsbury (home of the original line up of The Sugarbabes). As well as penning her own compositions, the singer songwriter attracted quite a following with her acoustic versions of songs by Mumford & Sons and Ellie Goulding …and when we say following, we don’t just mean fans, we mean celebrities. Cue Sonna’s big news – she’s just been signed to Motown Records by its owner, the award-winning megastar Ne-Yo, hence her move stateside. And how did it all happen? Through Facebook! He heard her, invited her to sing then signed her up.
Sonna explains: ‘I do this thing on my Facebook Page called Music Mondays where every week I take someone’s request and do a cover version of it. I had 400 fan and then I suddenly shot up to 8,000..one of them was Ne-Yo!’
And her reaction to this discovery? Sonna exclaims: ‘I was like OH MY GOD! This is amazing! Then Ne-Yo called up my manager and he said; 'I love this girl I think she's wicked, I’d love her to perform at one of my sets.' Being a huge fan of his the first thought that sprung to Sonna’s mind was that she’d get to see one of his sets for free so I said yes!’
Little did she know. This one performance was one that actually changed her life. Sonna reveals: ‘ I went there with my manager and make-up artist, thinking I'm just going to sing one of my songs and I'm just about to get off stage. As I do, Ne-Yo literally stops me and says; 'I have a little story to tell...' Ne-Yo explained explained how he had tried to sign Justin Bieber and, more recently, Conor Maynard. But had failed. He stopped and paused for a bit and then told Sonna: 'I am not going to make the same mistake again… Sonna if you are willing, I'm going to offer you a record deal. Right here right now! Do you accept?'
Sonna was as you would expect in total disbelief. She continued: ‘ I thought gosh is he talking about me? He is! He's not looking at anyone else. He is talking about me! At that moment all that came to me was, are you having a laugh? I couldn't believe it.’ The rest is history…in the making. Sonna is currently working with Ne-Yo on new materials.
She explained: ‘For a while now me and Ne-Yo have been discussing the direction of music for the album. Right from the start he was very adamant, about wanting me to follow and continue singing and writing as I have always done but at the same time he wants to enhance and develop what I can do.’ Sonna is also planning to pen some songs for Ne-Yo’s next album. She confesses: ‘I've been given this beautiful and amazing platform to express myself and live my dream. I really do feel so truly blessed. There's some good representers out there, hopefully... one day, I can be one too!'