Latin Grammy-nominated Raquel Sofia was trained classically in the jazz style of music, but nothing can hide the deeply-rooted, rich, Puerto Rican sound that created the singer and took her from wedding singer to rising superstar.
Her latin-jazz sound is complimented by her rock-n-roll looks, and accented by her half-shaved head. Her first EP and subsequent album, “Te Odio Los Sábados” and “Te Quiero Los Domingos,” respectively, are the latest achievements in her burgeoning musical career, allowing her vibrant personality to radiate through her lyrics.
For Raquel, it’s always been about eliciting emotions through her music and songwriting. “There was never really another option for me besides music,” she said.
Her early musicality flourished in the culture of her native island, Puerto Rico. There, her style developed with the influence of various musical styles ranging across the spectrum, from classic salsa to reggae to rock ’n roll. Raquel cemented her style after her move to Miami, majoring in jazz at the University of Miami and becoming very involved in the music community of the city, she said.
As she immersed herself in the community, she would sing cover songs at clubs, restaurants and weddings, juggling her passion with her schoolwork -- the latin essence of Miami nightlife with the structured jazz of the university. After a serendipitous audition for Colombian superstar Juanes, Raquel performed live on stage in thirty states as the opening act for his MTV unplugged tour, her original songs of love and heartbreak resonating with the hundreds of thousands of fans who watched her perform.
“Te Odio Los Sabados,” five songs leaning more toward the darker side of romance, was released in February 2015. Four months later, just in time for the summer season, her first album, “Te Quiero Los Domingos,” was released, including the heartbreaking five songs from the aforementioned EP juxtaposed with the heartfelt joy associated with relationships.
The combination of the two lends the album a feeling of relatability to any romantic situation. “I think the album has something for everyone,” Raquel said. “No matter what mood you're in, you can find a track that speaks to you.”
“Some things I draw from my island, [my] Latin roots- the reggae influence, the latin rhythms and, obviously, the Spanish lyrics. But there are hints of folk, hip-hop, jazz and rock that come from that fifteen-year-old girl inside [of] me blasting John Mayer and Ella Fitzgerald in her room,” she said.
This intricate mix of cultures is just one of the ways that Raquel stands out from the crop of young Latin musicians. Continuing her trend of asserting her individuality, she shaved half of her curly locks as a physical marker of the shift from cover-song-singer to rockstar singing alongside Juanes and Shakira.
As a bilingual artist, Raquel said, “it's not as much about what language I'm writing in as it is about what sounds I'm incorporating into my songs.”
“[Even though the songs are only in Spanish,] a lot of times people will tell me that they love my songs even though they can't understand the lyrics, [which] means so much to me because as musicians we ultimately strive to deliver emotion,” she said.