Theater & Arts

Artists you should know: Sonya Diane Jones

The Fourth of July means you're probably going to hear the "Star-Spangled Banner."

One vocalist who will be singing it today is Sonya Diane Jones. She's performing at Hanford's annual Fourth of July celebration at Hanford High School's Neighbor Bowl. The event starts at 5 p.m.

Jones is more than just a national anthem singer, though. She's a Christian/R&B artist with many con- certs around the state this sum- mer and a CD on the way. You can catch her full set next on Aug. 2 at Hanford Bible & Gifts.

We talked to Jones about tackling the national anthem and everything else going on in her career.

Describe your style of music and your influences. I'm a contemporary Christian, R&B, soul artist, and my influences over the years have been artists like Patty LaBelle, Shirley Caesar, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Pat Benatar. They are what I consider powerhouse singers.

How did you start singing? I attended a local church in Hanford with my grandmother. With her guidance and influence, I began singing at age 5. She felt I had a special gift and should pursue it full force.

What's it like singing the national anthem, knowing everything is quiet and everyone is focused on you? To be brutally honest, the first time was an indescribable feeling, to say the least. It felt like my stomach suddenly came to my throat. It's exactly like that in your mind; it plays the silence and the stares. As I opened my mouth to begin, the most awesome and overwhelming feeling came over me.

Once you've done it a few times does it get easier or is it nerve-racking each time? Oh yes, it has gotten easier and the nerve-racking has subsided. It actually turns into an exciting feeling versus nerves.

You've got a busy summer of performances around the state. Is there one you're looking forward to the most? Well, I'm really excited about this Fourth of July event because I've never done that type of event as a solo artist in my hometown.

I also can't wait to get on the road, to perform these gigs my manager/husband has scheduled for me.

I hear you're working on a CD. What can you tell us about that? Well, it's still in the beginning stages. The CD will include songs I'm writing and co-producing, which is another first for me. It will include music for listeners of all ages, young and old.

What effect do you hope your music has on people?

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Know a local musician that more people should be familiar with? Send the who and why to Mike Osegueda,