For someone who moved to New York City in 2012, Sonali Argade is refreshingly upbeat and friendly, which makes the cynic in me wonder whether or not city living has gotten to her yet. Still, one would be mistaken for thinking that the Floridian singer/songwriter is in any way naïve, as she has good reason for being so enthusiastic. She has put a massive amount of work and dedication into her music career, the fruits of which are now available for all to see.
Sonali's new EP, Wake Up, is certainly inspired by her move to the Big Apple, and she's getting a good reaction from both media and audiences alike. If you need to compare her to another musician (let's face it: it's a rite of passage for all musicians to be compared to someone else at first) her style is similar to that of Ed Sheeran, only with a bit more of an Americana feel and -- obviously -- female. Still, there is a sweetness and light to Sonali's music that makes it perfect for that happy-go-lucky kind of playlist. For as light as her music may be, however, there's no doubt that she can pack a punch with her latest single, "Who We Are."
"It's an anti-bullying song, really," Sonali explains, "and it could be anybody's anthem".
"I was inspired to write it because just recently, in the news, I've been hearing a lot of stories about kids being bullied, especially one back home. One story hit really hard, because it had a very tragic ending. It's very sad to me, that we live in a world that can be really intolerant sometimes."
While the song's lyrics don't make a clear reference to LGBT rights, Sonali herself acknowledges that her gay friends' experiences certainly moved her to writing a beautiful song, and creating a powerful video to go along with it. The video's storyline is about a young gay guy, and what happens when he brings his boyfriend home to meet the parents. The mother is less than impressed with her son's relationship, but her reaction leads to a dramatic moment in the film, showing that a parent's disapproval can sometimes be tragic.
"The reason why I decided to take my [music] video in an LGBT direction, is because here in college [she's currently attending New York University's Tisch School of the Arts] I have a lot of friends who have suffered problems with being accepted due to their sexual orientation, whether it be at home with family, or at school with friends, and that's so, so hard to hear. [...' Love it love, no matter who it's between [...] so I really wanted to be able to make a very clear message in my video; that this is what I believe."
The message is certainly clear, and the pride in Sonali's voice is contagious, when she tells me of how positive a reaction she has gotten to both the song and the video since its release. While the is some drama in the music video, the ending is a happy one, and that was fully intentional.
"I really did want to make it clear," Sonali explains, "that, yeah, the video does have a happy ending because I sincerely believe that that's the way our future is going. It might be a long and hard road to get there, but I sincerely believe that that's how it's going to be."
Indeed, if it's going to be a long road, then at least we have a new LGBT Ally in Sonali to keep us singing along the way.