LaSonya is a gospel and jazz singer from Tallulah, Louisiana. She sings with Lola & 2 O’clock Jump, KnuFunK, and the D’Sievers. She holds an MA in nursing and an MBA degree. She works as a nurse practitioner at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
What sparked your interest in music?
The first song I remember hearing is “Upside Down” by Diana Ross at age 3. Then, I started singing at age 5 in the church choir and had my first solo in the third grade when I sang the “Star-Spangled Banner.” I played bass clarinet in marching band and then joined percussion, playing the bass drum. Louisiana has a rich music history, so it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t sing or play an instrument.
Favorite local band or artist?
The D’Sievers. John Sievers is so very welcoming, which is the heart and soul of music. It’s what John brings to Rochester. Some people are territorial, but he isn’t one of those people.
Most memorable Rochester gig experience?
In 2009, I sang for the Rochester’s Got Talent competition as part of Thursdays on First. That was the first time I sang here in Rochester in front of an audience that big. I was super, super nervous. All my coworkers came out, even my boss, and they were really supportive. I sang Anita Baker’s “Body and Soul,” and I was first runner up!
If you could run sound for one artist no longer among the living, who would it be? Why?
Ella Fitzgerald. She is the most iconic person in music for me. She broke barriers, she could sing anything with anybody all over the world. I would just love to sit at her feet and soak up her knowledge and energy. She is my idol.
Top artist at the moment?
India.Arie. I have bought every one of her albums. There’s no garbage. There is always meaning and message in all of her music. Plus, she is not shaking it and getting naked. She is the most underrated musician of our time.
One book you think everyone should read?
The Bible. The message of the Bible is God’s love for all people, and that is a message that everyone needs to hear.
Favorite local hangout?
The Doggery. It is so quaint and so comfortable and those couches – they just hug you. It’s a meeting place with atmosphere. There’s never been a fight or an argument when I’ve been there, so it seems to be a very safe place.
If you had to outlaw one song from ever being played again, which would it be
“You Remind Me of My Jeep” by R.Kelly. That someone would write a song comparing a woman to a car – it infuriates me. It’s not a nice way to look at women.
Best show you’ve ever seen?
The Lion King. The meaning and the language used in The Lion King is from the Swahili language. I have actually been on a mission trip to Kenya, where Swahili is spoken. The monkey’s name means ‘friend’ in Swahili. Hakuna Matata really means ‘no worries.’ The word for ‘lion’ is ‘Simba.’ After being in Kenya, The Lion King felt like it was part of home for me.
Kindest words from an audience member?
The most profound thing happened to me when I was taking care of a patient who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. I felt moved to spend a little extra time with the family. The patient’s daughter asked me if I sang, even though she had never met me before. I sang “Amazing Grace.” Later, the patient asked me to sing “The Lord’s Prayer.” When I was finished, the patient told me, “I know I am going to die, and I don’t want the choir to sing. I want you to sing at my funeral.” I agreed and traveled to Wisconsin in December, in a snowstorm, to sing at the funeral. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.