Third-generation performer releases CD of her songs
Del Mar singer/songwriter and indie artist Sonya Bender has just released her first professional music CD.
“Between the Sheets” features Bender’s own melodic tunes with poetic lyrics and arrangements reminiscent of other female vocalists such as Jewel and Sarah McLachlan.
Bender sings from the heart.
“She touches people,” said her mother, Jeanne Bender. “She has been doing this since she sang for the PTA volunteer luncheons at Del Mar Hills when she was in fifth grade, and she would make them cry. She has a vulnerability about her and people respond to that.”
Her musical influences include Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, said Sonya Bender. “And Conor Oberst. He’s an indie artist who began his own record label and is the model for what you can really do with the current do-it-yourself record label,” Bender explained.
“This is a wonderful time because of the Internet. You can reach so many people yourself without having to go through a large music company and so give up control.”
Working with her Los Angeles-based producer Jonathan Baker, Bender has made the CD available online through iTunes, Amazon.com and CDBaby, among others. It is also available through her website,
While music is her first love, Bender is also a professional actor.
“I started with children’s productions, like the musicals “Annie” and “Les Miserables.” Then I moved up to doing more dramatic roles.”
She said she began acting professionally while in middle school at age 14. “I then studied under Laura Henry in Los Angeles. The work I did with her — exploring emotions — really opened me up as a human being. It revolutionized the way that I am honest with myself and then that influenced the way that I write. Everyone in my class was a transformed person by the end of the sessions.”
Acting is all about being truthful with your responses, said Bender. “You strip all the excess stuff away and get down to what you really feel. It’s interesting what comes out.”
Added Jeanne Bender, “Sonya loves the dramatic roles. She did some heavy theater when she was in high school (Bender is a 2007 graduate of Torrey Pines High), notably as the flapper, Mae, in Andrew Lippa’s controversial production of ‘The Wild Party.’
“Being an actress has definitely been an asset for Sonya when she performs. She is always well prepared and never nervous.”
The inspiration for Bender’s music comes in different ways she said.
“I might play around with chord progressions and then the mood that is set dictates the lyrics. But sometimes it starts from the kernel of a conceptual idea. Somebody might say something on the street and I’ll write it down and come back to it, then start composing music inspired by that sentence.”
Bender has musicians in her family.
“My grandfather and his sisters were all very musical. My grandfather played trumpet in Glenn Miller’s band.”
Her father, Brian, an acupuncturist, plays the guitar for recreation.
“So music has always been in our lives,” said Bender who took guitar lessons while in middle school but is mostly self-taught. She credits her expertise to many hours of practice and studying other artists.
Next month she’ll have a record release show in Los Angeles. She has performed at small venues in L.A., but hopes to tour at a later date.
“I’d love to open up for a larger act and tour with them,” she said.
“And because of the opportunities that have opened up in the music industry right now, I’d love to continue producing independently. My goal is to make enough income to just keep doing what I love.”
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