Sonnet Simmons, 33, was one of the competitors on the ABC series Rising Star this season. She took part in the hopes that it would help her get further media exposure and would aid her career in music. The hit series, in which voters across America were able to download a free app to allow them to vote on competitors in real time, allowed performers to get feedback in real time. The votes of the three Experts, Kesha, Ludacris, and Brad Paisley, did count, but just for seven percent of the votes (The vote percentage of each expert changed per episode, they counted less and less each round).
Sonnet did great, making it all the way to Week Seven and the Round of Thirteen. She was one of the Top 13 competitors left, having been saved by the votes of the West Coast. The talented Sonnet Simmons has taken time out of her busy schedule and has graciously agreed to do the following interview with the Guardian Liberty Voice.
Douglas Cobb: Sonnet, thanks for agreeing to do this interview! When did you first hear about the possibility of being on Rising Star, and how did you feel when you were chosen to be on it?
Sonnet Simmons: I was beyond thrilled to have made in on the show. I have been singing all my life and to see that what i love to do and what I have been pursuing my whole life translated through rounds of auditions was incredible. The audition process was long, I felt like I was holding my breathe for months as I moved through each audition round. It was exciting and thrilling. One of those things you can’t believe is coming true as you are living it.
Douglas Cobb: One of the interesting things that was mentioned about your earlier life on Rising Star, Sonnet, is that you were raised up in Greece in a cult. Would you please let the readers of Guardian Liberty Voice (GLV) know a little bit more about this part of your life? For instance, what was the name of the cult and what were some of its practices?
How big of a cult was it?
Sonnet Simmons: I was born into a Christian cult in Europe. The cult was Christian and faith based. I was very young when we left so I wasn’t really a part of the practices. I was born in Greece, we then moved to India where my little sister was born. It was a very large cult that had members all over the world.
The part that affected me most about the cult was leaving my two brothers in the cult with their father as my mom took my sister and I to the states and moved in with my Grandma. It took my mom a long time to put herself back together after spending 10 years in a cult and leaving her boys across the world to come to the US. I have an incredible family here in LA that helped raise me and my sister.
Douglas Cobb: Growing up in the cult, when did you first realize that there were other kids elsewhere who were not growing up like you were? Also, how old were you when you finally got out of the cult and how did that come about?
Sonnet Simmons: I was lucky to leave the cult when I was very young. I grew up in LA mostly. Changing schools every couple of years as we moved about. I was always different from the kids at school because of this past. I believe music — singing pulled me through all the changes and uncertainty when I was a child. I joined choir in all the different schools I went to; I was the singer girl. But I never really talked about my past, I just tried to fit in. My life was never like the other kids in school.
Douglas Cobb: Just one more question related to the topic of cult, in a way, Sonnet — you were an influence behind Kesha’s talking on Rising Star about a “Cat Cult” she wanted to form, right? Would you please tell the readers of GLV more about that?
Sonnet Simmons: Ha yes, on the first round I sang on, Kesha said she was fascinated by my cult story. She said she wanted to start her own cult…and so Kesha’s Cat Cult was born. A nice cult.
Douglas Cobb: You were not actually singing on Rising Star until Week Two, right? That was when you sang Wicked Game and you got the Wall to be raised. All three Experts voted “yes” for you, as did 81 percent of the viewers of America. That was your highest percentage of votes. You NAILED the song.
Sonnet Simmons: I was so nervous on that stage but so determined to sing my heart out. When the Wall raised I was washed over with relief and a feeling of closer to my dreams…the feeling of dreams coming true. A feeling I try to hold onto during the ups and the downs.
Douglas Cobb: During the time you were on Rising Star, Sonnet, was there any one Expert in particular who you liked the most, or who had the nicest comments about your performances?
Sonnet Simmons: I really liked all of the judges. I think Brad Paisley gave me the most encouraging comments on and off camera. He really helped me keep perspective and focus. He shared about his own path as an artist and inspired me keep pushing for what I want.
Douglas Cobb: The next time that you got the chance to perform on Rising Star, it was Week Five. That is when you sang Feeling Good. It was during one of the Duel Round nights, and you had to go head-to-head against April Lockhart. You did pretty good, getting 73 percent of America’s votes, but April sang Animal and got 76 percent of America’s votes, beating you by three percent.
This was a controversial moment, in a way, as you were saved by the votes of the West Coast. You definitely did a great job and deserved to move on, but the controversial part is that the votes of the West Coast did not count the same as those of the rest of America. They were only used to help save certain contestants. The voters of the West Coast, understandably, have often expressed their ire at not being counted in real time with the rest of America.
Do you think that the result might have gone the other way, and that you might have outright beaten April if the votes of the West Coast had been counted in real time?
Sonnet Simmons: The thing that is fascinating about the voting system is that the percentages are pretty close between East Coast and West Coast, the margin of difference is small. Just based on this statistic, I don’t know if it would have made a difference. I think both coasts have pretty similar voting patterns. I am grateful to have been saved.
Douglas Cobb: Brad Paisley liked the way you sang Feeling Good. He said that he would like to hear you sing “a James Bond song.” That was probably what a lot of voters across America thought, also. When did you learn that the votes of the West Coast had saved you? You must have been a bundle of nerves until you heard the final result of their votes.
Sonnet Simmons: I was a bundle of nerves and tears. I did not want to go home and was not ready to give up. I was relieved and overjoyed to have been saved by the west coast.
Douglas Cobb: In the Quarterfinals Round Night 1, Sonnet, you sang Young and Beautiful. In retrospect, it was perhaps not the best song choice for that particular night, for whatever reason or reasons. Though you sounded great, the votes of America were slow to mount up and you just received 30 percent of their votes.
Brad Paisley said he thought you sounded “pitchy.” Kesha tried to reassure you that everything would be okay for you, that you should grow stronger from the experience.
What were some of your feelings that night? Did you select the song or did the Experts?
Sonnet Simmons: That night was a pretty tough night. Yes, in retrospect, it was probably not the best song to choose. But we live and learn. There were so many factors in that night of course that I think back with “what ifs” or “I should have” or “wish I could”…but I have to just keep my eyes focused forward and know that Top 13 is a great place to take off from. I am beyond grateful for the incredible experience and excited for what is to come. It is all inspiration for my songwriting.
On the Winner: I think all the finalists were incredible. Jesse won the hearts of America, including mine. I’m excited for him and all the contestants. This was a great platform to sing and share what we do.
Douglas Cobb: Just one more question, Sonnet — you are not the sort of person to let something get you down for very long, though you must have been disappointed that evening. Would you please tell our readers about some of what has been happening in your musical career and life in general since that evening?
Sonnet Simmons: I was very disappointed that night of course. Brad Paisley was kind enough to offer some very encouraging words after the show to help inspire me to pick myself up from my bootstraps and keep marching. This is not beginning of my journey, nor is it the end. As a songwriter, I am excited to take this experience and write some new songs. Since the show I have started preproduction on my next EP, been requested as a guest star for a show next month in Portland I am excited about, planning a new show in LA, and writing…and trying to be smart about each move…but also be light about the journey. Singing is what feeds my spirit, it is what I have to offer this world, it’s not a one stop journey…so I practice daily keeping my thoughts positive and my head clear and my focus bright. Being an artist takes hard work, perseverance, and also venerability…this is an ever changing formula I am working on.
Douglas Cobb: Thanks very much for agreeing to do this interview for the Guardian Liberty Voice, Sonnet! Your excellent singing added a lot of memorable moments to the debut season of Rising Star! Please keep in touch and let us know whenever something else major is about to happen for you, like getting signed to a label and a record coming out!
Written By Douglas Cobb
Wicked Game video of Sonnet Simmons
More Links to Keep In Touch With Sonnet Simmons