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Music Saves Lives







 disappear fear






Interview: Christine Stonat (3/2020)

Photos: Le a Mor ales




weird: You have always been an outspoken LGBTIQ rights and political activist with your music since starting your career in the early 1980s. As a musician you have always been out as being lesbian, also in your lyrics. Being Jewish is another important part of your music. Why was and is combining music and political activism important for you?


SONiA disappear fear: It is just natural for me. When I first began writing songs with my feelings, my friends laughed at me. So I started putting melodies and arrangements to poems from magazines. Then I started writing very obtuse lyrics myself. Finally I got the courage to write my own thoughts and feelings again, and it was THIS time that when I performed and recorded these songs, they started to have some real impact. I think I was looking for someone to say how I felt. But no one did, so I did. If there had been out lesbian singer-songwriters on the radio I might not have felt so strongly about it. It gives and gave me unlimited possibility of freedom. It also gave me a vehicle to find and touch my own truth. Turns out a whole lotta people can relate to that truth.




weird: You are a Grammy nominated musician. Have you ever felt that being openly lesbian, being a woman and/or being Jewish has hindered your career in any way?


SONiA disappear fear: Well yes and no (know). For me to just write songs means nothing. It is easy to paint by numbers in a safe and proven formula. But that is boring. I know music is important – it saves lives, it creates hope for the hopeless and love for the lonely and food for the soul. To waste my time – which would be my life – for cheap cliches is a sin. I could not face myself in the mirror. So did it inhibit my rise to stardom?! Damn straight! But it is a lot more fun to live in the moment, to carve paths with not so many rules beside gravity. This is extreme songwriting not for sale of the soul. Not that it is not great to have big machines of gasoline throwing oceans of petroleum on those sparks to make a big big flaming splash. It is quite possible to write great songs even with a lot of success. One is not prohibitive of the other. But for me, I think I was scared of too much success. I was good at that, too. At the peak of my success my sister, singing partner and business partner jumped ship. We changed management and record labels and it was pretty messy. I didn’t get my feet or wings back for probably 10 years. Most people I think would have given up, but for me music is life. It is my oxygen, so I will play and write songs no matter what.




weird: You started more or less with punk music and your band exibit A. What does punk mean to you and do you still feel a bit of punk in you today?


SONiA disappear fear: Hell yeah! Punk music attracted me because I was a teenager in angst and I disliked all the fake big hair, stupid guitar macho masturbation with nothing really musical to say. Punk music began in England because so many young people could not find work on the “account of the economy.” It was raw and real and accessible. It yelled the truth in simple terms, it was just like folk music only with a lot more energy and color. What’s not to love?




weird: The folk/pop orientated band project disappear fear you started at the end of the 1980s, together with your younger sister Cindy aka Cindy Frank. She officially left the band in 1996 but has joined you onstage and in the studio here and there ever after until 2012. What do you think was the unique thing Cindy had contributed to disappear fear – on the records and live?


SONiA disappear fear: Cindy and I started disappear fear on 10-9-87 in Baltimore, the town we were born and raised in. She is a year and 9 months younger than me. We sang harmonies since we were taking baths together at 4 and 6 years old. We loved singing in the bathroom because it had hard surfaces and bounce back acoustics and a big mirror so we could carve out our characters’ personalities. Cindy would know my notes before I did. She loved and loves my songs. So it was not an act of routine as a daily job might be, but an opportunity to hone our craft and talent. She could not have been more dedicated and committed to the success of disappear fear. I knew people would love us – it was a no brainer. But I think since I was her older sister she needed to break out on her own. There are additional factors, but that is certainly a tangible, plausible one. Because we have the same parents, we have a whole bunch of the same DNA and life experiences, so the sound that is created only happens with me and Cindy is so special. We also know each other very well, which fortunately has matured into a lot of respect for one another. That was not always the case, as sisters can be quite cruel if not appreciated. See interview on PBS youtube (Q37 Disappear Fear Interview (1994))




weird: You have kept on with disappear fear, with different band members but mostly as a solo artist, to this day. All in all you – as a band and solo – recorded over a dozen albums. Among others your ‘94 album “disappear fear” together with the lesbian acts Indigo Girls and Janis Ian. How did you get together for this album?


SONiA disappear fear: We opened for the Indigo Girls in North Carolina and they loved us. In fact the night SONY Records came down to Atlanta in the big white limousines, we were scheduled to open for them in 5 POINTS, but their manager Russel did not want us anywhere near SONY Records, so they put us on stage about an hour before we were scheduled to go on -folks were starting to come into the club to have some dinner and drinks. We became friends with Amy and Emily and they were excited to sing back up harmonies on our songs. Emily’s girlfriend wanted them to cover some of my songs and they were big fans just as we were big fans of their sound. We did shows with them on the West Coast in 1991, and in 1992 on the East Coast. I also did some solo shows with them. DF did incredibly well in front of Indigo fans and I always love performing with them. I think my manager invited them to sing on our first Philo/Rounder Records album. Janis Ian was a client of my producer’s wife’s management company in Nashville. She invited Janis to be on the CD and Janis was all about it. Super nice. At the time none of the major label acts – not Janis, not Joan, not the Indigo Girls, not Melissa and not k.d. – no one was out as a lesbian singer-songwriter before their record deal. Only disappear fear was out from day one. Though still largely under the radar, I’m proud of my career and my choices. Truly this is just who I am; not to brag or be depressed, it is just what it is.




weird: Your latest album “By My Silence” came out in 2019. For the title song “By My Silence” you carried the famous words by German Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) – who actually lived in Bielefeld – into a contemporary context. The self-reflective words say, that staying silent in the face of Fascism and anti-Semitism is giving consent. How do you experience the current threat of rising Fascism personally and how do you try to handle it in and apart from your music?


SONiA disappear fear: In my music I am in it every time I sing the song. When I introduce the song, I frequently mention that one could substitute the word “Muslim” or “Catholic” or “Transgender” for socialist. I try to draw today’s misguided hatreds of stereotyped groups to the forefront in perfect reflection to Niemöller’s poem. Of course I still participate in human rights events around the world. I think also as an out Jewish person loving and being so loved in Germany 75 years after the Holocaust is a great loud example of positive social evolution. I think it is important to live into our freedoms lest we forget them. That is the essence of my mantra Love Out Loud.




weird: You are politically engaged to help freeing the young Kurdish musician Nu dem Du rak (more information on your website She is imprisoned in Turkey since 2015 for singing in Ku rdish. She was sentenced to 19 years. How did you get to know about her – do you know her personally, have you ever met her? –, and how did you get engaged?


SONiA disappear fear: I was told about her innocent crime and it just struck me that that is exactly what I do, and how important it is to be able to express oneself in our ancestral language if we so wish. I love languages. I see how all of humanity is connected through languages and how we misunderstand one another, too. I have not met Nu dem yet, although I fee like I know her. She and I, though 1000s of miles apart, and while she is Sunni Muslim and I am modern Jewish, while I speak English and Spanish and she mostly Tu rkish and Ku rdish, we are sisters sharing our craft to bring joy, peace, love and understanding to humanity. She has paid a very high cost, and I want her to know we hear her, and I want the world to know of her innocence and of Tu rkey’s crime.




weird: As a composer that you are you premiered with your first musical “Small House, No Secrets” in your hometown Baltimore in March 2019. Music and lyrics are by you. There is an album to it by you also. The musical tells a lesbian coming-out story. How did you get involved in this project with Jody Nusholtz (book and lyrics) and director Miriam Bazensky?


SONiA disappear fear: Jody and I had a dream to write a musical together. We were both paralyzed with sadness when we read about these two young Catholic women ages 19 and 17 that committed suicide by suffocating themselves to death inside a car in Pennsylvania. They left a note that said, “Although we know it is a crime to love each other on Earth, we can not live apart, so maybe in heaven there will be a place for us.” Jody tried to script this story, but it was too depressing. So she wrote a funny play and I loved it and thought, “Yes, it can sing.” So then I wrote the songs. This was over a 10 year period, with a bunch of revisions in the script and the songs. The musical was chosen in Ten Best of Baltimore Playwrights Production for a one scene presentation, and then chosen by the Kennedy Center for Best New Plays in America in September 2018. This was the same place that Hamilton got its start. So Miriam was on the board at Festival Productions and they chose to present a workshop version of “Small House, No Secrets” last spring at Fells Point Community Theatre in Baltimore. Since then it is being considered by Signature Theatre in DC, and in Honolulu and North Carolina.




weird: Bruce Springsteen is one of your huge musical influences. How important is it personally to you today to not only create music but to listen to the music of other musicians yourself and what is it doing to you?


SONiA disappear fear: Yes, it is true I am a huge Springsteen fan. His struggles are inspiring to so many of us who also are struggling. I think it is paramount to listen to today’s music, but I don’t think it is necessary to copy it. I never copied the music of the day in the past and I don’t intentionally do now either. I enjoy some of it and some of it doesn’t reach out to me. But life keeps moving forward, and to be connected to one another is good. It makes a better quality of life for all of us, and that’s the world I want to live in and want my nieces and nephews to thrive in.




weird: In April 2020 you will be on tour in Germany presenting new and old songs of you. (Update: The Tour is postponed to Fall 2020 and next year!) You have a German fan base here. How and when did that come and what kind of relation do you have to Germany and your German fans?


SONiA disappear fear: I love Germany and my German fans, some of whom now are close friends. I was asked to perform with the SONiA Santa Cruz Guitar signature model at Musikmesse in Frankfurt in 2008, and so I did. People would ask me where they could see me perform and I would try to step out, but I didn’t know German. Then by accident this guy Heinz came to see me perform at the Acoustic Stage at Musikmesse, and then he bought some CDs. The next year he also came to see me play and asked if he could do a video of my concert. We agreed and after the performance he asked where he could see me perform in Germany. I asked him, “Where should I be performing?” So Heinz said, “I think we have a little jazz series in my town. I will see if you can perform there next year.” And so it began. Heinz became the club president and booked me, and then other clubs asked how did he get me to perform at his club. Being so articulate in English and Deutsch, Heinz Haberzettl, the nuclear physicist, has become my booking agent in Germany and a dear friend, too.


But this year because of Covid-19, the tour is completely canceled. I will be inside with my wife for the next weeks until the city, country and world open up again. It is spring and my house has a lot of windows, so I will take long walks in the spring sunshine. We have decided to do a live concert to honor each show that I will miss this spring. There are coincidentally also 19 concerts. We call this non-tour tour 19 Digital Acts of Kindness Concerts starring SONiA disappear fear. It will be available on Facebook live for free. The first one will be on April 2 at 20 hr German time. In the meantime Heinz and the clubs are working to reschedule my concerts in Germany for October and November 2020 and February 2021.


Also coming up are two other big things. I just recorded a song about climate change that will be released on Earth Day, April 22, 2020, called Ghost of the Kangaroo. Also this June disappear records will release a compilation album (CD, vinyl + digital) called Love Out Loud, celebrating love in the LGBT community with songs from various titles over the years of my career.






Interview: Christine Stonat (3/2020)

Photos: Le a Mor ales

Die Grammy nominierte Singer/Songwriterin, Komponistin und Gitarristin SONiA Rutstein aka SONiA disappear fear aus Baltimore veröffentlicht am 22.4.20 ihre neue Single „Ghost Of A Kangoroo“. Eine neue Compilation ist für Juni 2020 geplant. Im April und Mai 2020 sollte SONiA disappear fear auf Deutschland-Tour gehen. Aufgrund der aktuellen Corona-Pandemie musste auch sie wie so viele andere Künstler_innen die Tour auf den Herbst 2020 und 2021 verschieben. Ab dem 2. April 2020 hat SONiA disappear fear dafür nun eine Online-Konzerttour auf Facebook geplant. Es wird ein Online-Konzert für jedes aktuell abgesagte Konzert der Deutschland-Tour geben (Alle Online-Konzert-Termine s. unten).


SONiA Rutstein ist Jüdin und seit Beginn ihrer musikalischen Karriere offen lesbisch. Ihre Identität ist wichtiger Teil ihrer Musik und ihrer Texte und findet auch in ihrem seit Karrierebeginn großen politischen Engagement auf und abseits der Musikbühne Ausdruck. 1987 gründete sie gemeinsam mit ihrer Schwester Cindy SONiA disappear fear. 1996 verließ Cindy offiziell das Bandprojekt, war bis 2012 aber noch weiterhin hier und da live oder im Studio an SONiAs Seite.


SONiA disappear fear ist heute das in Eigenregie geführte musikalische Projekt von SONiA Rutstein. weird sprach mit SONiA im aktuellen Interview über die verschobene Tour, über ihr aktuelles Album und künftige Projekte, über ihre Zusammenarbeit mit den Indigo Girls, über ihr lesbisches Musical, über ihre Schwester Cindy, über die Verbindung von Musik und politischem Aktivismus und vieles mehr.




SONiA disappear fear live - 19 Online-Konzerte


Start: 2.4.2020, 20 Uhr auf Facebook

alle Einzeltermine s. unten


Aktuelles Studioalbum:


SONiA disappear fear

„By My Silence“ (disappear records)

Out: seit 2019

Single: „By My Silence“


Neue Compilation:


SONiA disappear fear

„Love Out Loud“ (disappear records)

Out: Juni 2020


Neue Single:


SONiA disappear fear

„Ghost Of The Kangoroo“

Out: 22.4.2020



Ausgabe Nr. 145

April 2020

Fotomotiv: weird Schriftzug in rot auf schwarzem Hintergrund (Postkarte, die in pinkfarbenen Erikablüten steckt).weird Facebook Logo mit Linkweird YouTube Logo mit Linkweird Twitter Logo mit Link

A queer perspective on women in pop culture

Zu queeren Themen in dieser Rubrik mit dem YouTube-Logo findet ihr Videofeatures auf weirds YouTube-Kanal PLAYLIST „4/2020 Artefakt …“

SONiA disappear fear

Foto: Le a Mor ales



Name: SONiA disappear fear (SONiA Rutstein)

Age: classified

Pronoun: she

Profession: singer-songwriter

Place Of Living: now Baltimore

My weirdeste Characteristic: I assume people understand my sense of humor.


in eigenen Worten

in own words


SONiA disappear fear

Foto: Le a Mor ales

SONiA disappear fear

Foto: Le a Mor ales

SONiA disappear fear

Foto: Le a Mor ales

SONiA disappear fear

Foto: Le a Mor ales

SONiA disappear fear

Facebook Live-Konzerte April + Mai 2020 auf

(jeweils 20 Uhr):


2.4. Baltimore to Americana im Pädagog

4.4. Baltimore to Kulturgewächshaus

5.4. Baltimore to Musikschule Besigheim

7.4. Baltimore to Bookshop Sessions

9.4. Baltimore to Kulturkneipe Hirsch

17.4. Baltimore to Furthmühle 

18.4. Baltimore to Folkclub Isaar 

19.4. Baltimore to Vetternwirtschaft 

23.4. Baltimore to Bergkirche

24.4. Baltimore to Musik bei Vitos

25.4. Baltimore to Kulturkirche Hl. Kreuz

30.4. Baltimore to Café Kommodig

1.5. Baltimore to Arberger Hof

2.5. Baltimore to Norderney

8.5. Baltimore to Kulturladen Leuchtturm

10.5. Baltimore to Voice for Nud em Dur ak

14.5. Baltimore to KuTa Rauenthal

15.5. Baltimore to MAXiMAL

16.5. Baltimore to PurPur

17.5. Baltimore to PKC ehem. Synagoge