feminine // masculine
two self-made, singer/songwriters dress-up their inner tomboy
“I never knew I wanted to be a musician. I grew up studying classical violin, piano, and flute, but never ventured from what was written on the page. It wasn’t until after college that I wrote my first song and fell in love with music in a very different, more personal way,” Sonia shared. “At UC Berkeley, I studied psychology with plans of becoming a therapist,” she continued. “After graduating, I joined a consulting firm in San Francisco where I felt very dissatisfied and felt I wanted more but I wasn’t sure what ‘more’ was. One evening, I sat down at my keyboard and started writing a song. The feeling of aliveness I felt writing that first song made it clear to me that writing music was something I needed to explore more.”
Leila shares a similar story of clarity. She too was a “late bloomer” as a musician. Leila was about to accept her offer to study philosophy at USC and about that time was invited to a pop concert with a friend of the family. Her inspiration came half way through the show, “If they can do this as a career, I can do this,” she recalls thinking. That moment, she decided to say “screw it,” and soon after, applied to Musicians Institute instead to pursue music as more than a hobby.
It would be nice to say they never looked back since, but that isn’t the case. “I definitely have moments of doubt and I do occasionally glance at those other paths I started to go down,” Sonia confesses. “But, when I play a show or I spend a day writing, it is so clear to me how much I love what I do and that doubt always disappears.”
Leila too, speaks of her struggle to balance staying true to herself and “making it” in an industry that values women for reasons she resents. At the end of the day she realizes she simply can’t not write music, it is in her.
What was clear after getting to know both of these talented, beautiful, and determined women, was that pursuing one’s passion is not a sprint, it is a marathon. More over, transitioning careers is not about risking it all at once and taking a leap, but rather taking several small steps in the right direction.
Leila began taking voice lessons while teaching herself guitar and piano as she gradually shifted her life direction, and Sonia played shows at night while working as an associate at the consulting firm during the day. Finally, Sonia found herself booking shows in Bali, Japan, Minneapolis, Nashville and in several of LA’s hotspots, consistently enough to have music be her full time career. Leila just released her first album, is booking shows and is building up quite the fan base. Similarly to the first ThreadStory, these women show that is not about “making it,” but rather making it happen. They are doing just that.
Photographed by Yeran Terzian
Styled by Courtney Biebl
Makeup by Stephanie Wolfe
Featuring Sonia Rao and Leila Pari
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