Sofia’s interest in music began early (she began taking piano lessons at the age of seven). The Brazilian native’s love of singing was born from a perceived challenge: her raspy voice. Concerned that Sofia might be suffering from throat issues, her mother enlisted the help of a music therapist, who ultimately became her vocal coach for seven years. “Our first day of class, he told me to lie down on the floor with some books on top of my belly,” Sofia said. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this man is crazy,’ but once I started taking singing lessons with him, that was it: I’d found my passion."
By her early teens, Sofia was committed to pursuing a career in music. She spent her 11th and 12th grade years as a boarding student at Ross School, where she participated the school’s jazz band and stepped out of her comfort zone as a member of the rowing team. “I'm not very good at sports, but I have to admit that it was extremely fun and challenging to be part of the team,” she said.
Upon her graduation, Sofia attended Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music, where she majored in jazz performance. “I was amazed by all of the incredible musicians who I studied and played with. They gave me a lot of inspiration,” Sofia said. With her classmates, she formed Mojubá, a world-jazz quintet that reimagines the folkloric music of Cuba and Brazil, using combinations of secular and sacred songs from the Lucumi and Candomblé religious traditions as inspiration. “Those songs have a strong communal quality,” Sofia said, “so we thought it would be a great idea to perform it at foster homes, underserved public schools, and nursing homes to build community and solidarity, a defining purpose of this music.”
Her reason for wanting to wanting to share her music with the community comes down to her values as a compassionate world citizen. “I was born privileged and with a gift; it is my job to share that with my community,” she said.
To help them reach as many people as possible, the quintet was awarded a grant by the New England Conservatory of Music’s Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department and a fellowship from the Community Performances and Partnerships program. The resources enabled them to offer performances and workshops throughout greater Boston’s disadvantaged communities. One of Sofia’s most memorable experiences was during a workshop Mojubá held at the Immigration Family Services Institute, a nonprofit organization that helps new immigrants successfully transition to life in the United States. During the course of the performance, the students asked the band to play music from their home country, Haiti. After teaching the musicians their songs, the children and the band all played and sang together. “For me, that was really unique and special,” Sofia said.
These days, the recent college graduate is adjusting to life in her adopted hometown of New York City. She continues to play with Mojubá, and will be performing at the Silvana NYC on October 20.