Wedding rings with shiny light

Sonya Headlam


"an entrancing soloist...

a perfect match of singer and score."

– South Florida Classical Review

Jennifer Taylor Photography


With a voice described as “golden” (Seen and Heard International) soprano Sonya Headlam performs music that spans centuries, from the Baroque era to the present. She has garnered acclaim as a soloist on prestigious stages across the United States and beyond. Recent highlights include debuts with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, and the New York Philharmonic. She has collaborated with other esteemed ensembles, such as Apollo’s Fire, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony, and TENET Vocal Artists. In the 2022-2023 season, Sonya made several important solo debuts, including with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Handel's Messiah, her Severance Hall debut with conductor Jeannette Sorrell and Apollo's Fire, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the North Carolina Symphony.

Upcoming highlights of the 2024–25 season include her solo debut with the Summer for the City Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center singing Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate and an aria from Joseph Bologne's L'Amant anonyme, as well as an anticipated Raritan Players' album release featuring the music of 18th-century abolitionist and composer Ignatius Sancho and Trevor Weston's song cycle Reflections, a new commission. Additional highlights of the 2024–25 season include a meaningful return to her home state of Ohio to perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Akron Symphony Orchestra and her debut with the New Jersey Symphony, singing Handel’s Messiah.


Sonya connects with audiences through a variety of repertoire and settings, ranging from choral music from the Renaissance to gospel in sacred spaces, to performing solo art song recitals of the core repertoire and beyond in intimate settings, to appearing in grand concert halls and on the opera stage. Recognized for her "genuine tenderness" (Chicago Classical Review), Sonya has a special passion for uncovering and sharing the works of composers who may not be as well-known but have made valuable contributions to the musical world. Her Jamaican heritage has inspired her to explore and perform the works of celebrated Jamaican composers such as Peter Ashbourne and Andrew Marshall. This season, she will present several solo recitals, including a lecture recital that highlights the music, poetry, and prose of the African diaspora from the 18th century to the present day. Equally at home on the opera stage, Sonya has delighted audiences with her portrayals of characters such as le Feu in Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges, Fiordiligi in Mozart's Così fan tutte, the title role in Delibes' Lakmé, and Musetta in Puccini's La bohème.

Recent Premieres, Artist-in-Residence, and Other Innovative Contemporary Projects:

In 2024, Sonya premiered the role of The Caretaker in Luna Pearl Woolf‘s photographic oratorio, Number Our Days (conceiver, librettist David Van Taylor), at the Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC). She also joined the Bang on a Can All-Stars and friends for their dynamic new interpretation of Steve Reich's legendary 1976 work, Music for 18 Musicians, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In 2021, she premiered Patricio Molina's spiritual song Kecha Tregulfe at Carnegie Hall, marking the first performance of a song in the Mapudungun language on that stage. In 2023, Sonya was honored to be appointed as the Rohde Family Artist-in-Residence at the Chelsea Music Festival, where she performed a wide range of chamber music in non-traditional concert spaces, including a performance of Iman Habibi’s beautiful and effervescent Ey Sabā with violinist Max Tan. Other important innovative contemporary projects include her involvement in Yaz Lancaster's song cycle ouroboros, produced by Beth Morrison Projects; a role in Ellen Reid's dreams of the new world with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street at the Prototype Festival; participation in Tyshawn Sorey's Monochromatic Light (afterlight), directed by Peter Sellars at the Park Avenue Armory; and several performances of Julia Wolfe's Steel Hammer with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, including at MASS MoCA and Carnegie Hall.


Sonya is featured on the Raritan Players' latest recording, "In the Salon of Madame Brillon: Music and Friendship in Benjamin Franklin’s Paris," directed by historical keyboardist and musicologist, Dr. Rebecca Cypess. At present, they are collaborating once more on an album featuring the music of Ignatius Sancho and premiering new compositions by Trevor Weston.

Commitment to Music Beyond the Stage:

Sonya's commitment to music extends beyond the stage, as she is a church musician, educator, scholar, community volunteer, and published author. She was a full-time member of the Choir of Trinity Wall Street from 2019–2024, and she remains an auxiliary member, sometimes joining for Sunday services, Compline by Candlelights, as well as the annual performances of Handel’s Messiah. Sonya has a passion for teaching voice to students of all ages, both at the university level and in her private studio. She has also taught ear training at Rutgers University. Her scholarly pursuits led to a visiting scholar appointment at Rutgers University in 2021, where she conducted research on the eighteenth-century composer Ignatius Sancho. Together with Rebecca Cypess, she presented a lecture recital on the life and music of Ignatius Sancho at the 2021 Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society, and they continue to share their research on Sancho in various venues. Sonya’s article, "Inspiring the Next Generation: Navigating the Singer’s Path with Purpose and Resilience," which shares practical guidance for navigating the complex terrain of a singer's development and musical journey, was published in the June/July 2024 issue of the American Music Teacher journal.

Community Service:

In the realm of community service, Sonya dedicates her time and abilities to her local community. She has been an active member of both the Equity Commission and the Human Relations Commission in her neighborhood, and she happily donates her singing talent to significant events at the local, county, and state levels in New Jersey, including Juneteenth and Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations. Sonya had a fulfilling career at UNICEF's New York headquarters before pursuing music full-time. She was also a member of the UN Singers, a staff recreational club that the UN Secretary-General has designated as ambassadors of goodwill who regularly travel around the world on missions to promote peace and understanding through singing folk music from around the globe. Sonya is a proud CME artist and ambassador at Notes for Growth, a charity that sources underutilized pianos and transports them for free to students and music institutions in the New York area and Latin America.

A Life in Music:

With unwavering purpose and determination, Sonya has made music a constant presence in her life, achieving numerous accomplishments, including her critically acclaimed Jamaican debut, where she performed for distinguished guests such as the Governor General of Jamaica. She also earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts, where she was honored with the Michael Fardink Memorial Award. Critics consistently praise Sonya for the authenticity and emotional depth of her performances. Central to her artistry is her belief in music's transformative power. She states, “For me, music is a means to explore the depths of our emotions, illuminate the human experience, and foster meaningful connections amongst us.”


Only participating towards the end of the hour-long work, Sonya Headlam’s instrument was worth ​the wait to hear... Headlam’s ability to draw the audience in with an intimacy of tone and dynamic ​was welcomed in the Orff, and, in a way, nurtured one’s soul...”

– Music City Review, 2024

All three vocal soloists made strong impressions... Best of all was Sonya Headlam, a soprano with ​mature, expressive tone. I loved her reading of Stetit puella (There stood a girl), emotional and ​connected to the text.”

- Shepherd Express, 2024

“The soloists were excellent. Headlam sang an enthralling Kyrie and a sublime Et incarnatus a ​blissful give-and-take with the lovely obbligato wind parts. Hers is a focused soprano sound, but ​with plenty of warmth.”

Cleveland Classical, 2024

“With a dark, warm voice, soprano Sonya Headlam was heartbreaking as The Caretaker, singing ​quiet lines against an introspective harp... while musing on the privilege of being allowed to share a ​dying person’s final days.”

– Classical Voice North America, 2024

“...the soprano Sonya Headlam filled [her] music with character.”

– The New York Times, 2023

“Sonya Headlam’s richer soprano blended well... in the canonic duet ‘The Lord is my strength and ​my song,’ and shone in her other solo moments.”

– Chicago Classical Review, 2023

Headlam was more vocally dramatic and also adept at the coloratura runs, as well as unnervingly ​convincing... Headlam seemed to find particular joy in the runs of her arias...”

– Princeton Town Topics, 2023

"Other chamber vignettes afforded moments of intimate contemplation amid an otherwise fiery ​reading—especially for the revelation that was Sonya Headlam. She lent her honeyed soprano, pure ​and even from top to bottom, to “I know that my Redeemer liveth” ...Headlam brought a genuine ​tenderness to the aria that made for the evening’s most poignant moment."

– Chicago Classical Review, 2022

"To call [her voice] ‘golden’ would hint at the warmth and luster of her tone, yet there was also ​something breathy and earthy about it that made her opening ‘Comfort ye’ truly welcoming, and the ​following ‘Ev’ry valley’ joyous."

– Seen and Heard International, 2022

“Sonya Headlam was an entrancing soloist... Her light timbre, velvety middle voice and on-the-mark ​coloratura proved a perfect match of singer and score. She scaled the famous concluding Alleluja [of ​Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate] in a joyous manner, marked by elan and flawless intonation.”

South Florida Classical Review, 2022

"Sonya He[a]dlam returned for what proved to be the highlight of the concert: the motet Exsultate, ​jubilate. Exuding confidence and broadcasting smiles, she shaped its lines expressively and sang its ​melismas both flawlessly and with seeming abandon...

Just before the end, He[a]dlam saw her way to a high C and followed that path, crowning the motet ​with a glorious conclusion and bringing a delighted audience along for the ride."

Cleveland Classical, 2022

Wedding rings with shiny light

Stay in touch


Simple Email Icon



Jennifer Taylor Photography