"an entrancing soloist...
a perfect match of singer and score."
– South Florida Classical Review
Soprano Sonya Headlam enjoys a vibrant career performing music that spans from the Baroque period to the 21st century. She opened the 2022–23 season with several notable solo debuts, including Handel's Messiah with the Philadelphia Orchestra; Mozart and Bologne with Apollo's Fire at Severance Hall; Beethoven's Symphony no. 9 with the North Carolina Symphony; Bach's Mass in B Minor with the Grand Rapids Symphony; and Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate with the New World Symphony, a concert that was included in the South Florida Classical Review’s "Top Ten Performances of 2022." Upcoming highlights for the 2023-24 season include solo debuts with the New York Philharmonic, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and the Akron Symphony Orchestra.
Sonya delights in collaborating with contemporary composers on projects like Sung Jin Hong's Kennst du das Land, a piece she commissioned and performed in 2020; Tyshawn Sorey’s Monochromatic Light (afterlight), which was directed by Peter Sellars and performed at the Park Avenue Armory with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street; Yaz Lancaster’s OUROBOROS produced by Beth Morrison Projects; and Julia Wolfe's Steel Hammer, which was filmed for the Cal Performances at Home series and performed in 2022 at Carnegie Hall with the Bang on a Can All-Stars.
As a recitalist, Sonya has an affinity for art songs from the romantic period and is equally committed to introducing fresh musical idioms and little-known composers to audiences. Born of Jamaican parentage, she champions the music of her heritage, and she regularly performs and lectures on the life and music of the 18th-century writer and composer Ignatius Sancho.
On the opera stage, Sonya’s favorite roles include Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Musetta in Puccini’s La bohème.
Sonya holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts, as well as bachelor's and master's degrees in music from Miami University of Ohio.
TENET Vocal Artists
"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
“Sonya Headlam gave a dramatically engaged performance… beautiful control of pianissimo high notes.”
– Chicago Classical Review, 2022