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Interview with SONiA (disappear fear)

disappear fear performs at Jammin’ Java on April 12

SONia disappear fear

SONiA (aka disappear fear) — Photo by Roy Cox

From the Opera House in Sydney, to the Open House in Jerusalem, SONiA Rutstein (aka disappear fear) writes and performs captivating love songs and confronts the hypocrisies and biases of our culture with a positive message of openness and optimism. Having performed in Israel/ Palestine and in many parts of the world, SONiA’s Judaic roots live in the colors of her songs and paintings. SONiA has performed in 16 countries and has just as many award winning albums to her credit.

Singing in Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic and English, her powerful honesty touches people of varied social and ethnic backgrounds, especially those moving towards a positive world vision.

If you were to describe yourself in a few words, what would it be?
A global folk artist painting in radio waves.

Who were your musical influences growing up?
The Beatles, Rogers and Hammerstein, Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs, The Carpenters, Simon and Garfunkel, Elvis Costello, Leonard Bernstein, Puccini, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Mahler, and Stevie Wonder.

A part from singing in English, you also sing in Hebrew, Spanish, and Arabic. Did you grow up learning these languages?
Mostly as a child I sang in English, but I grew up learning prayers in Hebrew and Aramaic. I sang a little in French and Spanish from songs in Broadway Musicals.

Have you always used the name “disappear fear”? If not, when did you decide that it fit your persona?
I created the name disappear fear for the band I started with my sister on October 10, 1987. Since then, when I am solo (though I am performing many of the same songs) it is billed as SONiA. When I am joined by other artists or a whole band performing the same material we ask them to bill it as disappear fear. There is only one disappear fear and that is me. So my web site, my phone app, twitter, and social media include the disappear fear name brand.

What inspired your “Love Out Loud” song?
I came up with the phrase in 1989. That’s when we made t-shirts that said “Love Out Loud”. I wrote the song when my manager was packing up a large suitcase of this merchandise to go on the next tour, and said “hey son, how about a ‘Love Out Loud’ song?” On the living room floor I wrote the first draft of the song…25 years after I conceived the idea. I tweeted it a bit and it is one of the most popular tunes on the new Broken Film CD.

You’ve toured all across the world. What’s been your favorite country to visit?
My favorite country is the one I am touring in…at any particular time. To really be happy in your life it seems the best technique is to embrace the moment with all your heart with all your soul and with all of yourself.

I especially love France, Holland, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, Switzerland, and Ireland.

As an “out” artist, have you experienced any discrimination (or issues) touring across the world?
Of course. But mostly I get respect and love. Today at a little boutique store that sells fancy flower arrangements with orchids and tulips and soaps and candles, there was a little white Jewish star on a bar of sweet smelling soap. I believe the owner held no negative intention, but for me history shows that in the German Nazi Era soaps and candles were made from the skin and fat of Jews and Holocaust Victims, so this reminded me of that.

On television we heard from Ukrainians who are glad to be back as part to Russia because “the west is too influentially gay.” There is no shortage of stupidity but each day we become a better world from the mouths and hearts of souls who disappear fear.

Who has had the most influence on your musical career?
The first time I connected with a song on the radio to experiencing a performer re-create that song live on stage was when I was 5 years old. It was Louis Armstrong and it was an open air concert in Baltimore at the annual Flower Mart. I felt the powers of this connection then and it has never left me.

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
In 5 years I’ll be touring my next wonderful CD. I may take a year and teach music and art in South America or Israel. I have some land in Texas so I might build a getaway house with pools. In ten years I am likely to be in France a lot.

You’re from Baltimore. What are your favorite hangout spots in the area?
Mostly I stay home with the shades drawn…just kidding! My favorite hangout is really to be home and in my neighborhood. [I like] walking to friends parties and play dates near by. My wife is an awesome cook and I like being spoiled.

My favorite new restaurant is in Kansas City it’s called Cafe Gratitude, it’s vegan. But we don’t have this yet in Baltimore.

What should people expect from your show at Jammin’ Java?
It will be awesome. We fly in my guitarist Don Conoscenti from Taos and we will be joined by Ezell Jones Jr. on drums and one of my favorite musicians bassist Chris Sellman. We will perform much of the material from the newest Broken Film CD but also some old favorites. So everyone can be happy.

Anything else you want our readers to know?
I’m writing all these answers from this lovely little town called Besigheim towards the southern part of Germany. It is spring and on the days I’m not traveling on tour we take long walks through the sparkle fields and vineyards. I am so blessed to walk in the freedoms my country made possible for me and the graciousness of my German friends here now.

SONia performs at Jammin’ Java on April 12 at 7 p.m. Advanced tickets are $18; Day of $20. For more information or to purchase tickets visit https://jamminjava.com/events/disappear-fear.

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