Festival Miami is always a remarkable showcase for musical talent of all styles and varieties. But what’s even more exciting is when the event plays host to one of the University of Miami’s own graduates. Raquel Sofía is not only one of Latin pop’s brightest young stars, but she’s also a former Cane.
The 2009 graduate of the Frost School of Music, who will play at the Gusman on Oct. 17, has been living her childhood dream since she burst onto the pop scene a few months ago, thanks to the education she received right here in the 305.
“I can’t remember ever wanting to be anything else besides a singer,” Sofía said in a phone interview. “I would always sing at every event I could at school and for my family. I started playing guitar when I was 15. And then when it came time for choosing colleges … I knew that the only thing I wanted to study was music.”
Moving to Miami from a small town in Puerto Rico had a tremendous impact on the development of Sofía’s musical style.
“When I went to school initially I wanted to be a jazz singer, but that all changed when I started singing around Miami,” Sofía said. “I realized I love singing pop music and I love writing pop music.”
Six years later, Sofía is still a proud Hurricane.
“I have only good things to say about UM. And I think that one of the most beautiful things about the University of Miami and the music school especially is that it really has a family vibe,” she said. “It’s such a community environment. The band that I play with now, six years later, I met in school. So, it’s just a really beautiful place to go to college.”
After spending the years immediately after her graduation working in Miami as a bar singer and recording on demos, Sofía got her big break as a background singer for Latin pop megastar Juanes, which led to a contract with Sony. Her first album, “Te Quiero Los Domingos,” was released last June, launching her to a level of fame she still hasn’t quite adjusted to.
“It’s something that you’ve wanted for so long, your entire life you’ve been dreaming of this moment,” Sofía said. “You always dream of having your first album of songs that you wrote, and to make matters crazier, three months later I get nominated for a Grammy as a best new artist. So, it’s just all happening so fast and I kind of can’t believe it.”
Festival Miami serves as a homecoming of sorts for Sofía, who performed at the event multiple times throughout her college career.
“The show is going to have a little bit of everything. I’m actually going to do a song that I sang at my senior recital which was at Gusman, so I’m getting on the same stage and doing the same song,” Sofía said. “And I’m going to be singing all my songs from my album, but we’re doing some cool different arrangements and specials for the show.”
For musicians at UM hoping to follow in her footsteps, Sofía had a few words of advice which are applicable to students of all majors.
“After college, the world kind of smacks you in the face because it’s totally different,” she said. “But you are well-prepared, and I would say just to not stop and not give up because it is a very difficult road. If you don’t stop, something eventually happens.”