Desperado Debutante, the first solo album from Sonia Kazarova, a true Country Opera : In every sense it is the story of an epic love shattered and redeemed. Each song reveals a depth of character earned by living this very story. Together we share the cost of a love twisted and betrayed. How pain can reveal lessons and blessings in love reborn. From great sorrow to the light of joy never imagined. Just 11 songs to ring true in places in our hearts we my have forgotten.
Through the isolation and silence of the pandemic Sonia Kazarova and the whole opera world were prevented from performing or touring. As a single momma she became teacher to her kindergartener , started distributing food to her community as resources for many were dwindling. One long night she stayed up making 3000 miniature pies for Shia LaBeouf’s movie ‘Honey Boy’ to help make ends meet.
”I was listening to country music and began to cry uncontrollably. A friend who was helping me box the pies asked ‘what was going on’, and the old worn out dream came tumbling out. I always dreamed about being a country star, writing songs and melodies that told the stories like the greats – Dolly, George Straight, Bonnie Raitt Willie, Waylon, Tom T.Hall, Loretta Lynn, Reba Mackentire, Martina McBride, Clint Black, and so many others. I knew I’d reached the end of the line. I always was a late bloomer. I guess dreams have no expiration dates!” I’d been writing songs since I was 5 years old but was too scared to admit it to anyone, that I didn’t know how to draw those golf clubs on fences.” (Musical notation). So now here she was, a Grammy Nominated opera singer and composer, and she had run out of excuses. Sonia had to take up her real calling. From that moment she was racing and writing and busting out at the seams! The dream was back. What was impossible had arrived!
”Right at that time Sonia’s father was diagnosed with very advanced Pancreatic Cancer. SO she and her little one piled into the truck and drove from LA to Colorado to keep from putting her dad at risk for Covid with an airline flight. She would make this trek every couple of weeks to be there for his Chemo infusions and to sit with him just to be near.
”I felt useless just sitting there while my dad was suffering but I kept writing songs and praying for him to return to health. My dad and I are close, and I was so shocked to see the strongest man I’ve ever known looking so frail. Those long drives with my daughter and the landscape healed helped heal my soul through my dad’s struggle, my own painful divorce, and my little girl witnessing it all. It took me back to ‘the farm’ and really reminded me of how much I left behind, what I had been running from, and who I really was. Sure I was singing opera, but my heart was buried in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I came to save my dad, but I came back to my family and my heart. It helped me write more deeply and discover so many secrets I’d hidden from myself. The biggest surprise is sitting here a year later and my dad has almost fully recovered. SO many blessings. I thank god every day for giving us a fighting chance.”
How did the song “Desperado Debutants” come to you?
“Oh that’s a classic. Everyone I know has heard about it. It started out that I was like a Dirty Harry Debutante. Daughter of a tough Immigrant father who had escaped life behind the ‘Iron Curtain. A Gunsmith and telephone lineman who taught me how to shoot, ride, swing a hammer, grease the jeep, change tires, make bullets, solder, weld and other fancy stuff. My mom was bourgeoise from French immigrants poised, elegant, and educated. It’s a song about being both sides of the coin. Tough, beautiful, misunderstood, desired, and feared. It’s an anthem for all the badass diva’s out there and those that love them.”
There are love songs on this record, isn’t it about the destruction of a relationship.
I am a hardcore romantic, if that’s possible. I can’t help but see the bittersweet even in the most blatant of betrayals. There is always the person they could have been, or the one you fell in love with. I can blow on the tiniest of flames and fan it into a fire for a love story. The flames just keep getting higher until they may consume or exhume you. Imagination is a wonderful thing.
What were the recording sessions like?
I am so incredibly blessed and grateful. Mitch Dane has a patient silence about him that allows for the most delicate moments to gain strength and the most intense vibrant notes to reach a fever pitch. His approach is perfect for a high-strung horse like me. I brought my whole heart with these songs and spilled them out on the floor at Sputnik Sound. Mitch was patient and allowed bright moments to become crystal clear. His hands on the keys reminded me of church. He is an elder at his church and it shows. Gentle guidance and great generosity define the experience I had in the studio. I have to thank Vance Powell for suggesting we work together. Mitch Dane and I were magic together. He asked the most wonderful musicians to join us every day, and breathe life into what I had written. He loves the analogue old school sound. As an opera singer returning home to country music, this tactile warm way of working was the only way for me. I think everyone felt the magic and presence of something very special the whole time.
When you played these songs for your family, what was the response?
“My family was shocked. They really haven’t ever heard me sing anything but opera. My dad said the most amazing and touching thing.” There’s room for more than just John Denver, that could be you.”
The song “The Game and Not too Late” carry the story to a dark place inside an abusive relationship. How have you personally had to face this? What is your approach now?
“I’m lucky because I really have a strong sense of humor and am a very positive person. Those were the tools I used to survive. Getting away from the abusive situation is most important and asking for help is essential. When things like this have happened to me, I have felt shocked, like it wasn’t real. I have been slow to react. I was isolated and felt like I was drowning, and no one could hear me. Like I couldn’t even scream. Now I surround myself with close friends and family. I work to forgive myself for letting these things happen to me. Writing about it has helped me and singing about it, in hopes that I can help someone else get out has been truly amazing.”
“Always and Forever” is so different. What does it mean to you? How did you write it?
“This was the most amazing song. It came out all at once lyrics melody and all. My daughter was asleep in our room, so I usually sneak off the living room and sit on the floor in front of the fire and sing super softly or play the piano with the damper. This time I went into our tiny bathroom with my voice recorder and sang the whole thing right there. Later I transcribed it and sang it with piano. I barely changed a thing. It is very operatic in the form it surprised me with all the love and passion. I was shaking when it was done, and I am still moved by it.”
Looking back on your own journey, what do you like most about where you are now?
“Oh my I feel my next album bubbling up…It was and is very intense on every level. I am overjoyed. My cup runneth over. I have so recently realized that all that I fought so hard for, went so far from home for, stretched my limits, and bent over backwards to create led me right back to the beginning. I am happy that I took that long road to get here. It allows my music to have greater voice and scope, my experience has been rich and it grows deeper every day. I am in love with life and writing music and singing and performing my heart out. Every song costs, because they are all so close to my heart, but the chance to give it to the world, that is beyond my wildest imagination until now!”
Conduit For The
Power Of Music