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Miami, FL | Established. Jan 01, 2018 | SELF

Miami, FL | SELF
Established on Jan, 2018
Solo Pop Indie




"Take 3 with SunFest's Sonali"

Take 5 with SunFest’s Sonali
Posted at 08:21h in Blog by Cassie Morien
Warming up the SunFest Ford Stage on Sunday is the talented singer/songwriter Sonali.

This young, rising pop artist has been creating beautiful music since she was very young, and in 2012 was invited to attend the incredible Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. It was there she studied alongside some of the industry’s leading artists and industry veterans, including Questlove, Bob Power, and Nick Sansano.

It seemed like the stars were aligning with the young artist, when she suddenly fell ill. Sonali was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease.

Now, this confident Indian-American songstress is ready to debut a new sound for fans. In a new interview, Sonali shares what fans can expect at SunFest, Chronic Lyme Disease, and why her love of pizza is worth the risk.

What can new and old fans expect to see and hear during your upcoming SunFest set?

I’ve just now started playing live shows with my backing band, so this is going to be brand new for everyone! Playing live is an aspect of my career that I had to put on hold due to my struggle with Chronic Lyme Disease the past few years, so finally getting to see this come to life is amazing. I have a 10 song set, and only four of those 10 songs are released, so everyone’s going to get to hear a lot of unreleased music!

For my fans who have been with me for awhile, they know I’ve completely switched genres of music! I used to make folk pop, but now my sound is more indie pop and has a lot of electronic elements, so that’s new too.

You are originally from Florida, now living in beautiful New York City. What are you most excited to see/revisit/eat during your South Florida visit?

I actually moved back to Florida a little over a year ago due to my illness, but as much as I miss New York I love being home too. Aside from my friends and family, and of course my adorable dog Scooter, the thing I miss most when I’m away from home is Pizza Time Caffe! Possibly unpopular opinion, but I think it’s wayyy better than any pizza I’ve had in New York, and let me tell you I’ve tried my fair share. I’m technically not allowed to have pizza because I have a pretty restrictive Lyme diet now, but breaking it for Pizza Time is so worth it.

You studied at the Clive Davis Institute for Recorded Music at Tisch, and had an opportunity to learn from some incredible artists and professors. Can you share a stand out memory or lesson from your studies?

I think the single most important thing I got from attending Clive was just being constantly surrounded by musicians of such a high caliber. So many of the big up and coming artists and songwriters you’re hearing about now went to Clive, so you have no choice but to grow and step up if you want to compete with that level of talent. It was definitely intimidating at first, I think for all of us, because we were all kind of used to being a big fish in a small pond. But being around exceptional talent challenges you and helps you grow, I wouldn’t be the artist I am if I hadn’t had that experience.

In terms of a single standout memory…my freshman year some of my friends and I made a cover of Rihanna’s song “Diamonds”, and it ended up going viral and reaching Rihanna herself. We got to go out to her concert in Newark and meet her after the show, super casual no big deal.

You were diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease just as your first tour was about to begin. We are very happy to hear you are on your way to recovery! How did this experience impact your outlook and your music?

Thank you, so am I! Chronic Lyme is a life altering illness, so it really changed everything for me in every way possible, so much more than I can possibly fit here. There was a time when it was so bad that I couldn’t leave my bed, that’s about the time I realized I needed to move back home to Florida, because I wasn’t physically able to take care of myself living on my own. At that time it seemed like a career in music was impossible, so to be here just days away from playing Sunfest is incredible.

Lyme is still something I have to constantly work around and work through, but I am so grateful to be at a point where I’m healthy enough to even have that as an option, because just a year ago things looked very different.

Can you tell us a little bit about your track “Turn It Around”? (Either the songwriting process or the inspiration behind this beautiful track?)

Absolutely, I’m so glad you liked it! I wrote “Turn It Around” during my first semester of college at NYU. Growing up, I was always this shy, quiet girl, and it was an aspect of my personality that I really felt held me back in so many ways. I viewed college as this opportunity to completely start over and reinvent myself, maybe underestimating just how difficult that actually is in reality. Needless to say, somehow I didn’t undergo a complete personality change overnight, and I was very much the same person. I have a tendency to be a tad overly critical of myself, so I wrote “Turn It Around” one night when I really wasn’t having it.

One of my favorite things about “Turn It Around” is that it came from a dark place, but ended up having such a positive spin. The song is basically about taking control of your own life, and realizing that whether you do or don’t want change, it’s your responsibility.

What does the rest of 2018 hold?

More new music releases, and more live shows! Like I said earlier, playing live is something I had to completely stop for so long, so I’m planning to make up for that now.

When are you happiest?

When my personal life is good, I’m the happiest. If I have a good support system in place, I can handle anything life throws at me. Plus, accomplishments like Sunfest mean so so much more when you have friends and family to share it with. I’ve felt so much hometown support and love, and there are no words to describe how much that means

Don’t miss Sonali on the Ford Stage at 5 p.m.

TAGS: 2018, beach music festival, chronic lyme disease, interview, sonali, sunday, SunFest, West Palm Beach, west palm beach music festival - SunFest Blog


To ring in the new decade, we were blessed with the opportunity to gain deeper insight into the mind of Florida-based artist SONALI. After a grueling two year hiatus, SONALI came back into the music scene with a bang by performing alongside artists such as Incubus, Zedd, Logic, and even opening for Pitbull during Florida’s own SunFest Music Festival. With such a heartwarming comeback story, we wanted to delve deeper into her past, along with her creative process when it comes to music. This is what she had to say!

When did you first discover music to be your passion?

“As horribly cliché as this sounds, I was three years old when I told my parents I wanted to be a musician, and little did they know I was 100% serious. Over the years I’ve only grown to love music more. It’s always been the one thing I can turn to no matter what challenges life throws at me.”

Which artists do you look up to the most, and which have inspired your creative flow when writing?

“I love so many artists for different reasons! Musically, I really vibe with acts like The 1975, MUNA, CHVRCHES, The Band Camino, etc – basically a lot of music in that whole Indie/Alternative Pop sphere. However, my background is more in the folky/singer-songwriter genre, so I’d probably say my all time favorite artist is John Mayer. I love lyrics that are accessible and relatable yet clever, and no one does that quite like him.”

Did growing up in South Florida have an effect on your music style?

“For sure! South Florida has an incredibly laid-back and chill energy to it. It’s a fun place, and I’d describe my productions in a similar way. My favorite thing to do is to write songs that are maybe lyrically a bit darker, but then pair that with music that’s upbeat and easy to dance to. It gives you an extra layer of discovery with the song, and a reason to go back and listen again!”

How did going on a brief hiatus impact your music?

“It gave me time and space to be a little more intentional. Prior to my break, I had been making more folk/pop centric music, which I still do love! But I was also in college at the time and was discovering electronic music, and wasn’t quite sure which direction I wanted to take. Although I wish I hadn’t lost those years due to health, the unintended break did allow me to really take the time to think about what I wanted. I had never really allowed myself to slow down up till that point. Now I’m making music that feels authentic and like the best of both worlds, it feels like me.”

How were you affected in a musical sense by your struggles with your health? Did it inspire new musical visions?

“It definitely inspired a ton of lyrics, I can tell you that much! I have Chronic Lyme Disease, and along with a lot of physical symptoms it does also have a tremendous mental and emotional impact. My whole life was turned upside down, and even though I wasn’t able to actually work during that time, music was a very useful outlet in helping me process everything that was happening to me. There’s nothing like a major illness to really show you what your priorities are in life, and those are lessons I’m glad to have learned young.”

Tell us how it felt to come back from such a difficult break, and gaining the opportunity to open for Pitbull.

“I couldn’t possibly imagine a better comeback than opening for Pibull at SunFest, I still feel immensely fortunate to even be able to say that happened. There were so many times during my illness that a career in music no longer felt feasible. There was a long period where I wasn’t physically able to be active enough to perform a full set or get through a 30 minute vocal lesson. To go from that point to playing a 45 minute set on the main stage at SunFest was unreal. I had just formed my live band a few months prior to booking that gig, and our first show ever a week before SunFest at a tiny little venue in Miami. I still can’t believe we pulled that off, it was hands down one of the best days of my life. I have never felt more sure of anything than I felt when I was standing on that stage. I’ll never forget that feeling.”

What are some goals you would like to achieve in your career?

“Playing live is one of the coolest aspects of this job, there’s nothing like that face-to-face interaction and seeing people react to your songs right in front of you. I just went on my first tour in the fall, and I’d love to do way more of that next year. I’ve always been guilty of dreaming big so at the risk of sounding horribly cliché (again) – I want to play arenas some day!”

Do you have any new music coming out in the near future? What can we expect?

“I do! I’m currently in the process of working on my next project, aiming for it to be ready by the spring. A good amount of it is already written, and we’re just starting to work on the production. I’m collaborating with one of my absolute favorite artists who I think is just wicked talented, I’m so psyched to hear how everything turns out in the end.”

If you had to pick one message that you hope your fans take away from your music what would it be?

“To know that they’re never alone and that they’re stronger than they might think. Life can trick you into feeling isolated sometimes, but truthfully so many of us share similar experiences. I want my music to be a friend to people when they might feel like they have nowhere else to turn. Anytime I’ve gone through any huge obstacle in my life, songs have been one of the main things to help me get through. I want my music to do the same for someone else.”

Stay Up-To-Date with Sonali on:


Spotify - The Queue Magazine

"Sonali Drops First EP In Five Years “Runaway”"

Sonali Drops First EP In Five Years “Runaway”
Indie-pop artist Sonali has released her first EP in over five years, “Runaway.” Consisting of just three tracks, Sonali keeps her message simple. From the uplifting energy of “Runaway Summer” and “Silhouette” to the relaxed vibes of “Other Side Of The Moon,” the themes of freedom and escaping something run throughout.

In an Instagram announcing the release of her EP, Sonali explains that these themes reflect her attitude towards her music over the past few years: “There were so many times I thought a career in music was no longer possible with my health complications”…”but I’m SO f***ing glad I was wrong.” Sonali expresses her new feeling of creative freedom by taking risks in her “Runaway” EP. She says songs like “The Other Side Of The Moon” are different from what she usually does, but she loves how the EP turned out. - PureTone

"COVER STORY - Back Where She Belongs"

Robbed of her career momentum by a mystery
illness, Parkland’s Sonali is starting over
with a fresh pop sound
The three longest years of
her young life seemed
to dissipate in the late afternoon breeze as Sonali
took her place on the Ford Stage at
SunFest with the other members of
her four-piece band.
In a few hours, Pitbull would bring
the annual spring music festival in
downtown West Palm Beach to a
rousing conclusion with his early evening performance—and then dash off the stage and into his car so fast
that Sonali would later say he “must
have set a world record.”
The sensation that washed over
the graduate of Marjory Stoneman
Douglas (class of 2012) was just the
opposite. She wanted to savor every
second of the next 45 minutes—and
who could blame her? The 23-yearold singer, songwriter and aspiring
pop star (born Sonali Argade) had
reached this door before, only to
see it slammed by a mystery illness
that left her physically spent, vocally
impaired and spiraling in self-doubt.
But as she delivered the opening
verse of her recently released pop
single, “Turn It Around,” Sonali
connected to the part of her past that
wasn’t colored by a disease that went
undiagnosed for more than a year and
a half.
For the first time in what seemed
like forever, she felt like she belonged.
“I was never more comfortable in
my life than when I walked onto that
stage,” the Parkland resident says of
her SunFest set. “It confirmed to me
that I need to do whatever I have to
in order to make this career happen.
The feeling was too powerful to
It’s not that the past is entirely
in her rearview mirror. Sonali
continues to follow an alternative
medicine regimen that includes
an extraordinary number of pills
each day. She’ll never know for
certain exactly when she became
infected with the bacterium Borrelia
But at least she can identify the
culprit: A blacklegged tick, probably
the size of a sesame seed.
Sonali’s parents were born and raised
in India—Avinash, Sonali’s father, in
a suburb of Mumbai, the country’s
largest city; Sudhira, her mother,
settled in Mumbai (formerly Bombay)
at a young age. Both moved to the
United States, where they met and
married—Avinash, who’s in finance,
came for his graduate studies;
Sudhira came with her parents when
she was 18.
Both also realized, quite early,
that their only child, whose name is
Bengali for “golden,” had no interest
in becoming a doctor or lawyer. When
their Britney Spears-loving daughter
was 5, she would ask her parents and
grandparents to form a semicircle
around the fireplace while she stood
on the ledge that doubled as her stage.
“I’d perform entire Britney albums,
start to finish, into my pretend
microphone,” says Sonali, who was
born in Los Angeles, but moved
with her family to South Florida
at age 3. “I’d make my parents pay
me for concert tickets, and I’d print
out pictures and sign them—andmy grandma
would buy those.
Obviously, I had
an entrepreneurial
“I’m so glad there are
no home videos of this.”
Sonali began taking voice
lessons at the early age of 6 and
guitar lessons in middle school.
At Stoneman Douglas, she sang
in the chorus all four years; on the
side, she participated in the music
education curriculum at School of Rock,
programs that culminated in themed
shows—including a celebration of Led
Zeppelin music that played into her growing
appreciation of classic rock.
Along with her love of music, Sonali was
passionate about her academics. So it came as no
surprise to her parents that she was accepted at Duke
University and Tisch School of the Arts at New York
“Duke was the safer option,” Sonali says. “But I
remember my dad saying, ‘After Duke, what is it you’d be
doing?’ And I said, ‘Well, music, of course.’ … So my parents
were like, OK. Go to NYU and give it a chance.
“It’s so hard to make it in music. And there’s a lot of
emotional heartache along the way; more doors close than
open, and you don’t know if they’re ever going to open. …
I could have had a solid path in academics. But if you love
something this much, it’s hard to let it go.”

Sonali spent much of her first semester at Tisch wonderingwhy the school accepted her. She had only written a handful
of songs at that point. Her influences were still pop and
classic rock. And there were musicians in her classes who
already had sizable followings online.
“It was incredibly intimidating,” she says. “But you also
learn about yourself. You have no choice but to rise to that
level, otherwise you’re going to get left behind.”
It didn’t hurt that Sonali and some friends entered a
contest her freshman year that required entrants to film a
video for the Rihanna hit, “Diamonds.” Sonali’s team took it
a step further and recorded a cover version of the song to go
with their video. Not only did they win the contest and later
meet Rihanna backstage at a concert she did in New York,
but the video went viral.
Two other choices helped elevate Sonali’s profile.
Academically, she focused on the business aspect of the
industry, learning about things such as music marketing and
studio production that resonate to this day. Musically, she
discovered a singer-songwriter path thanks to a freshman
roommate who was into Joni Mitchell. The revelation would
culminate in “Wake Up,” an extended-play recording thatSonali released in 2014.
Around the same time,
she was playing shows
with an acoustic trio in
the lower East Side and
in Greenwich Village,
including at the famed
Bitter End club.
After graduating
early, in May 2015, with
a degree in recorded
music, Sonali had
plans to tour college
towns throughout the
Northeast. The little
girl who stood on
the fireplace ledge
and sang Britney
Spears was having
one of those
rare windows of
opportunity about
which aspiring
And then, just
like that, it was
At least four doctors and specialists in New York
offered variations of a similar theory. It was all in
her head. She was young and burning the candle at
both ends. And after taking antibiotics, everything
would be fine.
Only it wasn’t. Extra sleep couldn’t cure the
chronic fatigue Sonali started to experience.
She didn’t have the energy to climb out of
bed, let alone take a shower or make a meal.
Her headaches became crippling. Different
antibiotics briefly masked the conditions, but
then things turned for the worse. She began
suffering from brain fog and memory loss;
when she tried to take a post-graduation
online class, Sonali couldn’t retain the
“I’d read a paragraph and have no idea what
I just read,” she says.
Out of nowhere, she also developed
asthma. That resulted in diaphragm and
breathing difficulties that stunted the one
gift on which she always could rely.
Sonali couldn’t sing. She had lost
command of the strength, range and
delicacy that defined her voice. Worse, she had no idea why.
“Without a diagnosis, I kept thinking it was my fault,” she
says. “I didn’t work hard enough. I wasn’t strong enough
to power through. ... I fit the textbook description for
depression. For a time, I quit completely. I had no desire to
touch my guitar. Everything I once loved, I didn’t anymore.”
It wasn’t until February 2017, some 20 months after
symptoms first led her to visit a doctor, that the mystery
was solved. Sonali tested positive for Lyme disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, roughly 30,000 cases of Lyme are reported
each year by state health departments—however, studies
suggest that as many as 300,000 people a year in the
United States are diagnosed with the disease that’s spread
by infected ticks. (The majority of cases occur in the
Northeast and Upper Midwest).
It can be a tricky diagnosis. For people who do catch it
early, antibiotics can clear the symptoms within weeks. The
antibiotics prescribed after Sonali learned she had Lyme
didn’t work. She eventually found a doctor in North Carolina
who (along with a physician based in India) suggested a
course of alternative medicine and herbal antibiotics—think
Indian and Chinese herbs. Sonali moved back to Parkland
with her family that spring and started taking upward of 60
pills per day. Finally, she began to feel like herself again.
“Once I found a treatment that worked, my love of music
came back,” she says.
So did her singing voice. But the question lingered: Had
Sonali’s time already come and gone?
“When you have a moment like I had in 2015, where
you have some buzz, it’s rare,” she says. “If you lose it, it’s
hard to get it again. But I had two things on my side: I was
young, and I never stopped being active on social media. By
some miracle, my fan base (including a significant following
in India) quadrupled while I was dealing with Lyme.”
Last October, Sonali released “Forever,” the first of
three new singles that reintroduced her as more of a pop
artist (with synthesizers and drum machines). Though
the background sound has changed, the songs remain as
accessible as ever thanks to the sincerity of a voice that
Sonali describes as “the literal version of my soul.”
On the heels of SunFest, Sonali is planning to release
additional singles and establish herself as a live performer in
South Florida. For the first time in three years, she’s looking
beyond the feeling she describes in “Turn It Around.”
Do you ever look through the window and see
yourself on the outside looking in?
“Obviously, I’m still being treated and it’s something I’m
constantly having to work through and around. But I feel
like I’m on the other side of it. It’s been a year of me solidly
working on my career. I couldn’t have dreamed of having
the stamina to deal with something like Sunfest this time
last year. … It felt like I earned it, like I paid my dues.
“I’ve never had a moment like that before, but I hope there’s many more.” - Lifestyle Magazine


Runaway EP 2019

- Otherside of the Moon

- Runaway Summer

- Silhoutte

Forever (single 2017)

Turn It Around (Single)

Close Enough (Single)

Wanted (Single)

All or Nothing (Single)



Indie/Alternative Pop Artist Sonali has been steadily working to take the music scene by storm with her ethereal, hooky blend of rock and synth pop. After being forced into a two year hiatus due to Lyme Disease, Sonali has come back stronger than ever and hit the ground running. Splitting most of her time between South Florida and NYC, Sonali has just finished a tour with Hollister and High School Nation, shared a bill with Nick Jonas and Zedd, and opened for the headliner, Pitbull, at Florida's acclaimed SunFest Music Festival. In addition to gracing the cover of South Florida's major publication Lifestyle Magazine, Sonali was also the subject of a documentary that aired on JUS Broadcasting, which highlighted her career and journey with Lyme. These notable accomplishments led her to become the 2019 Recipient of the Cultural Ambassador Award, presented by Miss Universe Sushmita Sen in California. 

Studying and making music ever since she was a young girl, Sonali’s biggest plunge into the music world came when she was invited to attend the prestigious Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. There, she was afforded the pleasure of working with some of the best in the industry, studying under numerous GRAMMY award-winning professors and music industry veterans such as Questlove, Bob Power (D'Angelo, A Tribe Called Quest), Nick Sansano (Sonic Youth, Public Enemy), and Amund Björklund (Train). While there, she would also attend guest lectures by Pharrell, Benny Blanco, Rob Thomas, and Stargate. During her college career, Sonali and her classmates collaborated to create a viral cover of Rihanna’s "Diamonds." After being featured on Buzzfeed and by Ryan Seacrest, the video garnered the attention of Rihanna herself, who invited the group to a show in Newark, where she personally congratulated them on their work.  

Just as Sonali graduated from NYU and was about to embark on her first tour, she was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease. Instead of spending the next few years on the road and recording as she had planned, she was forced to devote most of her time to recovering and getting back on her feet. As much of a setback as it was, the unintentional break did allow her the time to be introspective and reconsider her career and sound. While at NYU, Sonali learned a great deal about music production, which had opened her eyes to the world of electronic music. Trading in the acoustic guitar for synths and drum machines, Sonali released her follow-up EP Runaway in summer 2019 with producers Eren Cannata and KOIL PreAmple.  

Through this new sound, Sonali hopes to use her platform to help give another voice to Indian-Americans in the entertainment industry. "My family is from India and that's been a huge part of my upbringing," Sonali shares. "Growing up, I never had anyone on screen or in music that I could look up to in that sense, and I don't want that to be the case for kids today. Indians are finally starting to get a voice in the TV and Film world, and it's about time that spills over into the music industry!"  

With a new sound and reenergized passion, Sonali is ready to pick up where she left off. 

Manager: Amit Nerurkar (face-less)                                                                                                                                   


Band Members