Neo-soul artist SoulStress defines life music
The SoulStress, Sonya McGuire, knew at an early age she appreciated music. This PK (preacher’s kid) was surrounded by music and learned to sing, act, and play a host of instruments. The SoulStress emphasized, “With music playing such a dominant role in the home, I felt that there was no other path to follow other than the unofficial ‘family business.’ Initially, I chose drums and keys to express my musical creativity.” Yet over time, singing quickly became the obvious choice followed by musical director at her father’s church.
With vocal ability that is comparable to none and marveled by many, SoulStress incorporates thought-provoking lyrics with unmistakable jazz overtones into her music. Her eclectic songwriting abilities blend soul, R&B, jazz, funk, and so much more.
Read her interview.
You are not your typical neo-soul artist. How would you define your personal brand?
I’d describe my personal brand as “life music.” I say that because when you hear the music that I sing and produce, it will definitely take you on a journey. It’s not just one genre of music; it’s a life story where you experience the ups, the downs, the lessons of life, the love, the spirituality and so much more.
How would you define your sound?
I would define my sound as organic because with every song I sing, you’ll hear a different sound that helps you to relate to that moment. When I sing, I sing with everything I am, revealing the most intimate chambers of my heart to those listening. I desire for those that are present to have an experience that they can relate to first hand. I desire for you to feel like you were there at the time of the conception of every song and can experience all of the emotions pertaining to that particular song.
What led you to music in general?
I grew up with my entire family doing something musically, from my father playing guitar, being the lead singer of a quartet group, to my mother singing in the church, and my sibling singing as well playing many different instruments. That’s why I feel there was no other path for me to follow other than to follow the unofficial family business.
How do you actively seek inspiration, or does it find you? Or is there a combination of the two?
It’s actually a combination of the two. With my upbringing being in the church I heavily rely on my faith in God and know that it’s my life’s journey to inspire as well as be inspired by everyone that I come in contact with. I’m always learning, evolving, and being inspired by everyday life experiences.
Let’s talk about your latest project. What was the inspiration behind the project?
Life. It has definitely taught me a lot along my journey, and This Thing Called Love is a sneak peek into my heart, my soul, the journey of my life, and my renewed passion for love.
Did you rely on faith or your own understanding for this project?
In everything that I do I rely on my faith and guidance from God to do that which I was created to do. Those who lean on their own are just that — on their own.
Your sound is not a traditional sound. I hear a range of styles and genres when you sing. Is that a fair assessment?
Yes, It is. I love all music and have been inspired by it so I’ve been blessed with the ability to sing different genres …
How much does music inspire you?
Music has changed my entire life and has inspired me to share it with the world. I myself have experienced healing, change, inspiration, and have been uplifted by the music that I sing. I’ve also received countless messages from supporters all over the world sharing how my music has changed their lives. As I have traveled internationally, I have been inspired by seeing every barrier that would block understanding due to language and culture be transcended by one simple song. I’ve seen atmospheres change, tears flow, people dance, sad faces turn into smiles, and hung down heads lifted after experiencing the music that’s sung in a different language. While they may not even understand the language, the music still reaches and touches the soul, allowing them to still have a one-of-a-kind, lif- changing experience through the music that they hear.
What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?
Called to serve.
Created to win.
Answering the call.
Making a difference in our community.
If you were a color what would it be and how would you describe yourself?
Green. Simply because it is the color of life, renewal, nature, hope, improves vision, rest and energy. It means growth, harmony, safety, fertility, and has healing power. Green is also associated with money, ambition, focus and relaxation.
How do you live life to the fullest?
I have faith in God. I laugh until I’m in tears from laughing. I’m open to experiencing new things. I love like it might be my last chance to love. I listen like I need to be heard. I understand like I’ve needed to be understood. I forgive like I’m forgiven daily. I open my eyes and life to new experiences every day. I travel to places I’ve never been. I love and adore my family, friends, and fans.