Songwriter wraps busy summer with Egyptian performance
Treasure Mountain Junior High’s Sophia Dion is more than an up-and-coming singer and songwriter.
When she was 11, her first major performance was at the Fender Lounge during the Sundance Film Festival. She also opened for the Egyptian Theatre’s annual Park City Divas’ performance that year, and is now an official Diva for this year’s performance on Friday and Saturday that will include Lisa Needham, Mary Beth Maziarz, Jeanne Rettos Logan, Wendy Fisher and Ellie Gallagher.
Last year, she was one of the featured artists at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) summer show in Nashville, Tenn., where she performed during "A Celebration of Music" concert to benefit Little Kids Rock, a non-profit organization that provides musical instruction for public school students.
The other artists during the show included John Oates, Gary Morris and Drake White.
Dion has also recorded her first song, "I Just Wanna Sing," that was made into a video after she won first place in the MADD Talent Artist Contest at the Nashville Hard Rock Café.
The song is currently available on iTunes.
Earlier this year, NAMM invited Dion, who is now 13, to its annual convention in Anaheim, Calif., where she opened for Tower of Power.
Dion, a soft-spoken 13-year-old, said she is really looking forward to the Park City Divas performances.
"It’s cool even though I’m still the youngest one there and I’m still learning how to harmonize with the other singers," Dion told The Park Record. "We’ll perform four group songs and then I have two solo songs and the others will have two or three solos as well."
During the night, the artists will have the opportunity to collaborate with each other.
"I got to choose who I wanted to work with and asked Mary Beth Maziarz to play piano on one of my songs," Dion said. "I also think I’m going to sing back up for Jeanne."
Dion’s family is no stranger to music.
Her grandmother, Mavis Dion, was also a professional singer in the 1940s and 1950s and had her own radio show in Montreal.
"She inspired me to start playing my own music, and then I got a guitar for Christmas and decided to pick it up and play," Dion said. "I started taking lessons and have been taking them ever since."
The young artist is also developing into an established singer and songwriter.
"I write about basically things that happen in my everyday life and what kids my age go through," she said.
Sometimes, however, a song will stump her.
"There are times when I have to stop because it gets too personal," she said. "There are also times when I start writing and then I’ll get stuck and can’t finish it."
Still, Dion has written six of her own sings, and in addition to "I Just Wanna Sing," she has recorded two songs earlier this year.
"Right after I got out of school for the summer, we went to Connecticut for 10 days and I spent time with my cousins," she said. "While I was there, I wrote a bunch of songs and recorded two songs in New York."
To date, Dion has more than 45 cover songs in her repertoire, and her music has appeared in Richard Robbins’ 2013 documentary "Girl Rising," which follows nine girls from around the world in their struggles with arranged marriages and child slavery.
Another documentary filmmaker is also considering Dion’s music.
"We can’t talk too much about that until things are finalized," said Dion’s mother, Pam. "But it’s pretty exciting for her."
This summer in Park City alone, Dion played at McPolin Farm, Zoom, the Park City Kimball Arts Festival, the Women’s Giving fundraiser and headlined her own Grand Valley Bank concert series show at Deer Valley
"The Deer Valley show really sticks out for me," she said. "It was really fun because all my friends were there. And the cool part was when I played my last song, everyone got up and started dancing."
Over the Fourth of July break, she was one of the teens who played the annual Dana Point Harbor yacht concert in California.
"They flew me out and I performed with a bunch of kids my age," she said.
Adding to the musical whirlwind, Dion was contacted by Bedell Guitars who offered to sponsor her and design her a custom guitar.
"So we went to Bend, Oregon, and I toured the factory and they showed me how they assemble their guitars," she said. "I got to choose the wood for the guitar and it was amazing."
Dion’s instrument features a cutaway body that is slimmer than usual so she can play easier.
"The fretboard is fit to my hand and I can play without reaching too far," she said. "It took three days to do this."
Regardless of all the events that have come into her life over the past two years, Dion still has to balance her music with school.
"It’s a lot easier this year this year, because I am able get out of school early because of a special program," she said. "So far, it’s working well."
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present Park City Divas, a night of music by some of Park City’s female singers and songwriters on Friday, Sept. 20 and Saturday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m. The performers will be Lisa Needham, Mary Beth Maziarz, Jeanne Rettos Logan, Wendy Fisher, Ellie Gallagher and Sophia Dion. Tickets begin at $19 and are available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com .
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