After only two years of playing guitar, this Park City native has shared the spotlight with Grammy Award–winning artists and graced the stage at Sundance.
While other preteens fawn over Justin Bieber and rock out to Selena Gomez, 12-year-old Sophia Dion tunes in to indie songstresses like Ingrid Michaelson and KT Tunstall. “She’s not like a normal 12 year old who wants to play pop music,” says mom, Pam.
And with her wise-beyond-her-years croon, Sophia is also attracting attention in Nashville. The singer/songwriter completed a whirlwind tour there this past summer. She sang at 12 venues in three weeks and won first place in the Madd Talent Contest. The normally shy girl blossoms in front of large crowds where she can feel the audience respond to her music.
“I’m more nervous in front of two or three people because I can see what their reactions are,” she explains. “[With bigger crowds] I kind of just see colors when they’re moving around, but I’m mostly focusing on my guitar.”
On stage, Sophia emanates a self-assured presence that oozes with star power. “I performed every day in Nashville, but wasn’t tired at all,” she says. “I love people listening to me and feeling happy.” The owners of Bedell Guitars heard Sophia sing in Nashville and signed her to a performing artist deal, a privilege usually reserved for more experienced musicians. She also performed at the prestigious National Association of Music Merchants annual trade show that has seen the likes of Elton John and John Mayer.
Born and raised in Park City, Sophia’s passion for music was evident at age 3 when she would belt out Elvis Presley’s “Devil in Disguise” in perfect pitch in the family’s living room. Piano and vocal lessons followed, but receiving a guitar at age 10 made it all click. “I connected with the guitar because it was something I could carry around with me,” she says. Though she has only been playing for two years, Sophia has performed at the Sundance Film Festival Artists’ Lounge and alongside blues legends and Grammy Award–nominated musicians Jimmy Hall, Tracy Nelson and Reese Wynans and five-time Grammy Award winner Ashley Cleveland.
In March, Sophia penned her first single, “All I Wanna Do is Sing,” before recording it in a Nashville studio. “It’s about how, wherever I am, all I want to do is sing,” she says, explaining that writing songs is an outlet she’s excited to explore further. “I can connect to the songs [I write myself] more than if I’m doing covers.”
Words of Wisdom: “Just listen to all types of music. You have to practice to get good, because it doesn’t happen really fast. You have to be focused.”
Mentor: Sophia’s 91-year-old grandmother was a professional singer in the 1940s and 50s. “She’s a rock star,” Sophia says.
Hobbies: Competitive hip hop and jazz dance, freestyle skiing
Musical maestro: Sophia also plays stand-up bass, piano and ukulele
Speed composing: Wrote her single in four hours
Words of Wisdom
"Just listen to all types of music. You have to practice to get good, because it doesn't happen really fast. You have to be focused."