It’s easy to get swept up in the raw lyrics, catchy melody and the unique voice of Sondra Toscano. The Big City Cowgirl singer recently released the five-song EP City Zipcode, Country Heart.
“It was such a labor of love,” Toscano said of the EP.
Pulse chatted with the latest artist to emerge from the Long Island country music scene as she got ready to start touring.
Long Island Pulse: How would you describe your sound to someone you just met?
Sondra Toscano: I would call it “New York Twang” or “Citified Country Pop.” My songs are a little bit old school country, a little bit modern country pop and a little bit of city girl thrown in. It’s my real life set to music.
Pulse: Tell us about how you got started.
Toscano: I have always loved music. I always felt like it was connected to my soul.
When I was a pre-teen I had trouble sleeping so I would jot down lyrics and hum melodies. As I got older I joined the school chorus, taught myself about guitar and electronic keyboards. I started to hang out in clubs and bars to hear music and I met a guitarist who was looking to collaborate. We went into the studio and I was hooked.
Pulse: And yet you ended up with a law degree. How did that come about?
Toscano: I took a break from music to go to law school and start my family.
Shortly after my daughter was born, I felt the pull to get back into music. I had really missed it and my daughter was instantly connected to music just like I had been. She inspired me, in her own special way, to start writing again. I relearned to play the guitar well enough to put my thoughts down and wrote some songs. I realized that you can balance work, family and music all together.
Pulse: What’s the music writing process like?
Toscano: I get musical ideas at all times of the day and night. I write down my lyric ideas to remember them and I sing melodies into my iPhone or iPad. The Big City Cowgirl tunes are written on an acoustic guitar in my home after my daughter goes to bed. That’s when I put it all together. Sometimes I start with a lyric, sometimes I start with a melody and sometimes I start with a chord progression. At present, my dining room contains an acoustic guitar, a music stand and my notebooks filled with ideas.
Pulse: Who are your musical influences?
Toscano: Although I gravitate towards country music, I have listened to and learned from many genres’ musicians. To name a few: Billy Joel, Elton John, Cyndi Lauper. In terms of country music influences: Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn. And artists like Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum.
Pulse: What’s the meaning behind the name Big City Cowgirl?
Toscano: I live in an urban area, but I’m really a country girl at heart. There is something wonderful about both city life and country life. The city helped to mold me into the type of person and songwriter I am, but I’d give it up in a heartbeat for the charming simplicity and quiet innocence of country life. Big City Cowgirl means that I am a girl who was raised in the big city as a New Yorker, but have a country mindset and country music in my heart.
Pulse: Where can we hear you in the coming months?
Toscano: I’m very excited to take my show on the road this year. As soon as shows are booked, all the info will be available at bigcitycowgirl.com and fans can also follow me on Facebook to stay updated.
Pulse: What do you like about performing live?
Toscano: I love the energy of people who are all out to have a great time. The feeling of doing something you love and having people appreciate it is amazing.
Pulse: What advice do you live by?
Toscano: Every day is a blessing—act that way.