Cloverdale’s Sofia Evangelina recently walked the red carpet in Hollywood to accept a major artist award for her debut album Butterfly.
The annual Young Artist Awards are presented by the Young Artist Association to honour the work of performers under the age of 18 in film, television, theatre and music. Winners are selected by members of the association, much the same way that Oscar winners are selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Previous honourees include a number of Hollywood A-listers, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.
Sofia was thrilled to even be nominated in the Best Vocalist and Best Album categories, and said she was “blessed to be among so many talented young peers. That was an experience on its own.”
The 16-year-old singer-songwriter said she was very relaxed at the ceremony, because she was so certain that she wasn’t going to win.
“The next thing I know, it’s approaching my category. They call my name. I think, ‘Me? No way.’”
When the Reporter caught up with her following her win for Best Album, it was clear that her passion and drive have served her for years in many realms of her life. She has only just recently moved to Cloverdale from Whistler, where she had been based for years as she trained and competed as Sofia Tchernetsky, world-class skier.
Sofia has been singing all her life. At the age of 7, she began to show some promise, and teachers would tell her mother that she had a “big, jazzy voice,” she remembered. Laughing, she recalled that she hadn’t liked the description at the time. At that age, she thought of herself as more of a “pop princess.”
She was encouraged to attend Talent INC., a national talent conference for young people who act, model and sing. When she won for overall talent in 2014, it sparked a lot of interest from the industry. She began to hear from major labels, agents and casting directors.
“But at the time I was so involved with my skiing career, I decided to put this on hold,” she said.
At first, she tried to balance her passion for skiing and singing, and she began to record Butterfly in between travels.
“We tried to combine it for so long,” she said. “[We were] travelling around the world and having Skype calls with our managers and vocal coaches with them constantly asking — ‘Where in the world are you now?’ — while I’m icing my shins.”
Butterfly was recorded two years ago, in between competitions on the World Cup circuit.When she returned home to B.C. from the latest ski meet, she would “record a song or two” in the studio.
The recording process took time, about six months of work on and off, but she was thrilled to be working with Vancouver producer Bryant Olender, who has worked with a range of artists, including Michael Bublé, and to pursue her passion.
“I’ve known my whole life that this is my passion,” she said. “This is what I want to do . . . I just thought it would be later on in my life.”
“Little did I realize that I had so much passion, so much fire in me that I had to share with the world right now. I wanted to change people’s lives right away. And I thought it was a responsibility, more than anything.”
A perspective changing moment happened in Los Angeles, while shooting a music video. (She was in California for a skiing competition, and swung by L.A. to shoot five music videos in seven days.)
While filming This is Your Song, a debut single that delves deep into issues that youth face, including bullying, kids and parents approached her to tell her how the song related to them, their lives and their struggles.
“That’s when we really started to realize how important this career is now. My time is now, the door is opening for me now and I have to do whatever it takes to jump in,” she said.
Sofia has since put her skiing career on hold while she immerses herself in her artistic career. “As painful as the sacrifice was, I feel like it’s my responsibility to make an impact on the world and make it a strong and beautiful place.”
She’s just finished the production of two new singles, due to be released this fall in a five-song EP. “They’re on a completely different level,” she said. “As you can imagine, when you’re a kid, your voice is changing week by week. Even today, I sang better than I did yesterday.”
While the first album showed off what she can do, featuring a wide range of covers, from Etta James to Adele, as well as original songs, the new releases will hint at the creative path that she will continue to carve out ahead of her.
In the meantime, the ever-busy teen continues to model, and has recently been cast in a leading role of an indie film that will film in Alberta.
While she enjoys both modeling and acting, singing will always be where her heart lies.
“Singing is my soul,” she said. “It’s everything I am and everything I aspire to be.”