I am a pianist and a singer bred by the traditions of the Russian school. My roots are planted in these memories-playing piano during overflowing dinners, and singing Soviet bard songs around family campfires. My love of song is audible in my patterns of speech. You’ll hear my voice carry in its distinct presence.
I speak through art based in vulnerability and emotional transparency. I find this vulnerability in free improvisation, writing songs, and in creating unapologetic experiences that say, “I feel with you.”
My focus as an artist is to use vulnerability and personal emotional inventory for social change. By openly exploring trauma, depression, loss, and grief in a vulnerable way, I create space for others to be comfortable with self-reflection and deep empathy.
Building community and connectivity in this way allows for more personal emotional inventory that leads to a greater understanding of happiness and suffering. Empathy and vulnerability are where we solve social issues, and create a sense of understanding across boundaries.
Sonya Belaya is a Russian-American musician who divides her time between Michigan and New York. As a diverse music-maker performing contemporary, improvised, and classical music, Sonya is invested in vulnerable art and the development of strong, personal collaborations.
Sonya has performed as a pianist and singer with members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra,
New Music Detroit, Michigan Opera Theatre, Willo Collective, Russian Renaissance, and Bang
on a Can All-Stars. Currently, she is working on releasing a debut chamber folk EP entitled
‘Songs My Mother Taught Me’.
Sonya has been a participant in many notable music festivals, including Bang on Can Summer
Festival, Banff Creative Arts Centre, and she was the Resident Fellow in Piano at the
Cortona Sessions. Sonya is an active educator focused on offering music as a means of
exploration and self-awareness. She has served as piano faculty at Metropolitan State
University at DIME-Detroit, and worked as a dance collaborator at the University of Michigan. Her
mentors include Christopher Harding, Joseph Gramley, and Christian Mecca. Currently, Sonya works as a musician at Mark Morris Dance Center, Martha Graham Dance Company, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Her favorite coffee is Stovetop Roasters.