Saturday, January 2, 2010

University of Santo Tomas Medtech Alumni turns to Bossa Music

IT WAS her dream to become a doctor so she could heal through medicine. But a twist of fate made her decide to heal through her therapeutic soothing voice.

Thomasian Medical Technology (Med Tech) graduate and Bossa Nova singer Sofia Josephine Mozo had her mind set on taking a medical study grant in Japan last year, but she simply couldn’t refuse the warm reception she got from the public after she released a demo tape of bossa, a Brazilian style of jazz.
“Although I was already set to go to Japan’s Gifu University as a research assistant in Hematology, I took the public’s appreciation of my song as a sign from God to sing Bossa songs for people,” Sofia said.
Sofia explained that after singer Sitti Navarro sparked the popularity of bossa, Ivory Records was looking for a Bossa singer of its own.
“They asked me to do a demo tape of the song ‘Desafinado’ which was aired over the radio,” she recalled. “Surprisingly, the song was warmly received and people were requesting for it.”
That one song eventually led to more songs that ultimately gave birth to Sofia’s debut album, Bossa Latino Lite and shortly afterwards, a sophomore album called In Love with Bossa Nova.
Although Sofia admitted that her unexpected entry into the music scene was a “fortunate accident,” as she was only asked by Ivory records to do a demo tape of a Bossa song or coach a would-be Bossa singer, the sultry 22-year-old singer was not expecting anything big as her song was aired over the radio.
Medicine and music
Although Sofia was more used to Med Tech functions such as blood extraction, identification of bacteria, and analysis of human feces, she found no trouble adjusting to the music industry having been a well-versed musician since high school.
“I’ve been a member of three bands. In high school, I had a rock band and alternative band and in college, I was part of an R&B and reggae band,” she said. “One way or another, my experiences with these bands helped boost my confidence when I began my singing career.”
She added that even though she had chosen Med Tech as her pre-med, her passion for music would always prevail over her.
“Even when I’m on hospital duty I would listen to different types of music that I like,” she said.
While most of her classmates were part of the boy-band craze during her high school years in St. Theresa’s College, Sofia was preoccupied with studying the history of Bossa music.
Bossa nova is a style of Brazilian music introduced in 1958 by Antônio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes and Joao Gilberto.
The musical style evolved from samba but is more complex harmonically and is less percussive. It is most commonly performed on a nylon-string classical guitar, played with fingers instead of a pick. Other instruments include the piano, drums and percussions.
“My best friend in second-year high school, who was listening to a lot of popular music, gave me a tape containing songs of different languages. One of the songs was ‘Desafinado’,” Sofia said.
She narrated that upon listening to the song, her respect and curiosity for bossa grew.
“As a musician, I was challenged by the complex melody of the bossa genre. If you listen to the song, it may first sound dissonant and sometimes off-key, but if you listen more closely, you’ll see that it is not,” she said. “Bossa is actually a type of sound reminiscent of jazz.”
She was immediately swept off her feet upon listening to the sounds of Jobim, one of the creators of bossa. Immediately, she started studying how to play the bossa nova herself.
Although Sofia fell in love with bossa the moment she listened to it, she observed that it would be much better if it could gain more listeners.
“When my first album was released, my ultimate goal was for people to understand and appreciate Bossa more,” Sofia said. “For me, that was as equally important as selling the album because if people genuinely understand your music, they would also be interested in you, which is more important than any award or title.”
Thomasian beat
Despite her recent success, Sofia never fails to look back at her days as a Thomasian.
She said that much of who she is right now is due to her four years as a Med Tech student in UST.
“What I learned most in UST Med Tech is to be very reflexive, witty in making decisions and in handling pressure,” Sofia said. “I also learned how to multi-task from my hospital duties at the Veteran’s Memorial Medical Center.”
She added that until now, she still finds it hard to adjust to being a show-biz personality because all her life she had been a very private person.
“The feeling is so surreal. But I have always made it a point not to let my success get into my head and see to it that my feet are on the ground,” Sofia said. “This is probably another thing that UST taught me.”
Sofia may be well on her way to success, but she never forgets her dream of becoming a doctor.
“I will still take up medicine. But right now, I am just working with what I have and being thankful for the blessings.”

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