Sincerely Sophia Marie
Writer Shannon Severson
Photography by Loralei Lazurek
Her voice is clear, earnest and soulful, belying her young age. Sophia Marie Humbert, who performs under the name Sophia Marie, is a 15-year-old Anthem native who shocked family and friends with her spot-on rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” at age 9.
“Trent and I heard her sing it and just looked at each other, saying, ‘Wow!’,” says Sophia’s mother, Vernaliza Humbert “She sang it with her back to us because she was shy, but we could hardly believe how good she sounded.”
She bought her first child-sized guitar with money she won on an Exacta—a winning prediction of first and second place—in the 2013 Kentucky Derby (her dad placed the bet) and her parents enrolled her in lessons from a local friend, Jenny Kelber, who taught Sophia to sing and play, paving the way for a stream of accolades and performances that have steadily grown.
At age 10, she began playing the piano.
“At the beginning, it was a challenge to sing and play an instrument at the same time,” says Sophia. “It takes a lot of practice.”
Musicianship doesn’t run in the family, so Vernaliza and Trent Humbert set about learning as much as they could about the music industry in an effort to support Sophia’s dream in any way they could. Trent put together a biography packet for auditions and began researching performance opportunities. Establishing an Internet presence was a key part of the process, so both parents help manage her YouTube, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
“It was an adjustment to put her out there,” says Trent. “But to be a musician, you have to be out there, and it has led to other opportunities. In public, as well, we pay close attention to make sure she’s safe.”
Today, Sophia has over 1,300 followers on Instagram, and her YouTube channel has nearly 500 subscribers.
“So far, everything has been really positive,” said Vernaliza. “We’ve been lucky in that regard. We are involved, and we will stay involved. We want to support her dream in any way we can.”
There are no tricks or auto-tuning in her posted videos, just Sophia’s pure voice, sometimes singing along with music on her phone and sometimes playing piano or guitar. She eschews any alteration of her voice for recordings or performances, preferring to be as real and unvarnished as possible. Even her professionally produced demo reel has no auto-tune, at her request. There’s no need for it, anyhow, as her natural talent is evident.
“I want everything about my performances to be real,” says Sophia. “I don’t want to put out a single fake element. I want it to be as genuine as possible because that’s what I value.”
The Humberts are always on the lookout for worthwhile opportunities, and she has made 100 live appearances in just the past year. With the time constraints of being a high school student, she has to make every appearance count in terms of time commitment and reaching the most people. They’re learning as they go, but say that “selling” their daughter’s talent really isn’t necessary. When people hear her sing, they’re already sold.
Sophia’s most prominent local performance was at the 2017 Christmas tree lighting at the Outlets at Anthem. It happened to be the site of Sophia’s first ever concert, where she saw Taylor Swift perform on the same stage. Things came full circle when Sophia chose a Taylor Swift song to open the night before a crowd of 10,000 people.
Other public performances include singing the National Anthem at Arizona Diamondbacks with 25,000 fans in attendance, and at an Arizona Coyotes games. This year, she looks forward to a repeat performance at Chase Stadium, and she will sing for the first time at a Phoenix Rising FC soccer game June 16.
Competitions have also garnered Sophia attention and opportunities. She had the chance to perform for the 2017 Proof is in the Pudding Contest, a competition that grants winners opening act status at Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding fundraising concert each year. While she didn’t win, it was a fantastic experience and got her started on writing her own songs. She wants to do more of her own songwriting in the future and has a particular talent for musical composition.
Chicks With Picks, a non-profit foundation established to support female musicians in Arizona, spotted Sophia’s talent after she auditioned at one of their open mic nights. She will perform for young patients at Phoenix Children’s Hospital July 13, and has an upcoming radio spot as a featured independent artist through the organization.
She’s had other community support as well. Sophia received vocal scholarships in 2014, 2015 and 2016 from Carefree-based Upscale Singers. That first year, she was a featured performer in their annual Christmas concert.
She auditioned for The Voice by invitation twice, and plans to audition for American Idol if it is picked up for another season. She missed the last round because she was two months shy of the age cutoff.
“It’s intense, but it’s a good growing experience for her,” says Vernaliza, “Every time she auditions, it gets a bit easier. It is a good feeling to know she’s in the mix. She’s received great feedback.”
Sophia maintains quite a rigorous schedule. As a sophomore at Boulder Creek High School with a 4.35 GPA, she participates in the award-winning honor choir, having performed at Carnegie Hall in 2017 and, this year, winning second place in the Burroughs Music Showcase competition in the Los Angeles area.
She has a steady stream of live local gigs, including Saturday nights at TruBurger in Anthem, regular appearances at Janey’s Coffeehouse in Cave Creek, and alternating months at Elevate Coffee Company at the Shops at Norterra.
For her live gigs, she usually serves as her own accompanist on the guitar or piano and doesn’t use recorded tracks. It’s part of the sincerity she values and that comes through in her performances, earning her a solid local following.
Sophia wants to use her music to encourage and inspire in a manner similar to how she has been inspired by singers like Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande. At barely 5-feet tall, she relates to young people who have dealt with self-consciousness about appearances or abilities.
“From about third grade on, I’ve always dealt with insecurity about my size,” says Sophia. “When I see how musicians can empower people not to listen to negativity or self-doubt,
I want to send the same positive messages with my music.
I want to impact the world for the better.”
Hear Sophia Marie Sing
Anthem Independence Day Celebration
Tuesday, July 3
Anthem Community Park
41703 N. Gavilan Peak Pkwy, Anthem
FREE admission and parking
$12-$15 ride/bounce wristbands available