Sonyaé Elise may be the missing link in black music. The singer, rapper, songwriter and actress brings a texture, honesty and a flavorful wit that tingles the sensibilities of both contemporary R&B fans and Trap Soulers. The source of her music’s richness can be found in her roots. Before Sonyaé was raised on the granite blocks of Newark, New Jersey, she was born into a family of musicians and vocalists.
Both parents sing (damn well). Her mother, a talented soprano with a mean pen game, shared the same solo dream her daughter now grinds for. Her father, who she likens to “an East Coast Nate Dogg,” possesses falsetto to baritone range. Growing up surrounded by musicianship led Sonyaé to write her own songs at a very young age (her first group was formed in the first grade). Even as a young’n, Ms. Elise was about the full presentation. With a seamstress for a grandmother, she would cut up sheets and make costumes to perform new creations. Whether in front of a birthday party or just her mom, no crowd was too large or small for the future diva. It made perfect sense that she’d discover her inner thespian while attending the music and theater-focused Fairfield middle school in Montclair, New Jersey. Her drama teachers urged her to put singing on the back burner to focus on acting. Despite landing Broadway roles for classics like The Lion King and Grease, Sonyae could not ignore her passion for song.
After dropping out of Rutgers University, where she was crowned Miss Rutgers for consecutive years, Sonyae packed her bags for Los Angeles and fully committed to her dream. She would land on Bravo’s 2011 television songwriter’s competition Platinum Hit and win first place––$100,000 cash and a publishing deal with BMI. Shortly after, Sonyaé released her first mixtape installment: Lady Rebel 1 and 2, then spent the next few years writing for some of the industry’s finest artists: from Ciara, to Britney Spears, to The Game, which led to her recording with and eventually landing on Anderson Paak’s heralded debut album, Malibu.
At the top of 2016, Sonyae released her best work thus far with the achingly vulnerable SHE’S BROKEN, which also cleverly hides the contrasting title, HE’S OK. The 11-track player, inspired by an eleven year relationship to the singer’s first love, offers a melanin-rich collection of sonic libation, no chaser. It’s Mary J. Blige’s Share My World for the new generations.
Sonyaé’s current project is a theatrical release with her manager Kevin “Coach K” Lee and music exec turned film exec Chris Hicks titled APE SHIT. She stars in the dramatic short and provides its soundtrack. Before her latest project dropped, PRELUDE rolled out to Jersey and spent a couple of days with the fashion-forward scribe, visiting her grandmother’s home, old neighborhood and favorite studio to record in. Discovered was a fearless young woman with the potential to mean to black music today what Blige meant in 1992.