Artist of the Week – Chicago’s Sonia Khaleel Mixes It Up on Her Debut Album, ‘SHARK’
Chicago pop/rock artist Sonia Khaleel mixes 50′s doo-wop, 80′s rock and early 90′s ska with pop and indie elements to create a unique pop sound. In May, she dropped her debut album, SHARK, featuring 14 terrific songs that demonstrate not only her appreciation of various musical styles, but also her solid songwriting skills that are apparent in her lyrics. Plus, her sultry voice coos, jabs and soars across the tracks on Shark, proving to the world that she can write terrific compositions and lyrics, as well as perform and sing impressively.
Originally a native of Detroit, Khaleel has been involved with music since she was 8 years old performing in orchestras, jazz choirs, bell choirs and theatre troupes. As a young girl, Khaleel had a penchant for performance, singing into microphones and recording, playing the tapes over again and again until she felt the takes were spot on. As she matured, Khaleel spent more and more of her time studying classical, opera and jazz music – all of which are evident on SHARK. Her love for jazz music was enhanced greatly after she spent time in New Orleans volunteering after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The resulting floods from the storm destroyed the homes, as well as the instruments and equipment, of many of the city’s musicians.
“Wick” - Sonia Khaleel from SHARK
Khaleel’s education in music was further enhanced by her travels around the world. As a teenager, she travelled to Spain, Italy, Switzerland and France, singing in church choirs. As an adult, Khaleel travelled to Ghana and fell in love with Ghanian highlife and hiplife music – another musical education that helped inform the songs she wrote for Shark, a fantastic album that intelligently and entertainingly depicts her broad musical background and the diversity of influences, cultures and time periods in history.
“Come Over” - Sonia Khaleel from SHARK
Khaleel also traveled to India to study Carnatic music in her mother’s hometown of Chennai. While there, Khaleel also wrote for a music magazine in her father’s hometown of Bangalore. Upon her return, she moved to Chicago to perform as the lead singer for the R&B/soul band, Pasquale; her work is featured on the band’s 2010 EP, Cardiology.
“Spring” – Sonia Khaleel from SHARK
Khaleel first began writing songs for her debut solo album in 2010. Khaleel is also an avid painter and created all of the album art for SHARK. Veteran sound engineer David Elliot Johnson of Tricycle Sound Recording Studio produced the album. Khaleel said that she is working on four new music videos of her songs; at this time, her YouTube page includes a number of covers.