You wouldn’t expect a country music singer/songwriter to hail from Brooklyn, New York! But Big City Cowgirl does, and she has created her own unique brand of authentic country music. Big City Cowgirl is Sondra Toscano, a public service lawyer, whose days are filled with helping people to manage difficult situations and whose nights are filled with composing songs. Big City Cowgirl has always been a country music fan. Growing up, she was exposed to, and wrote, all music styles, but cites her mother as influencing her love of country music even when it wasn’t popular in New York to be a country music fan. Big City Cowgirl has the full support of her family and friends, and she sometimes bounces ideas off of them. She says, “My biggest critic is my toddler. She will tell me what she likes and doesn’t like. I value her opinion because children speak from truth and from the heart.”
Big City Cowgirl’s latest release is a single entitled “Rode Off Into The Sunset (That Night).” She explains, “Westerns are so entertaining to watch. When I started writing the song, it ended up as a love song, which I think is nice spin on the idea for a song about the Wild West.” Her song has been released on Amazon and iTunes, and a myriad of other streaming and music sales sites, and you can check out her video for the song on YouTube. Big City Cowgirl currently lives on Long Island with her family and she hopes, “my neighbors understand when I’m banging on my guitar, and singing to the stars, every night.” We caught up with Big City Cowgirl and spoke about her new release, the future of Country music, and more right here on ET!
Tell us about your new single, Rode Off Into The Sunset (That Night). What was the writing and recording process like? The writing process was simple with Rode Off Into The Sunset (That Night). I started playing around on the guitar and got a chord progression going, and the lyrics just started coming. Westerns are so much fun because it’s usually about bad guys and good guys, and good prevailin’ over evil. I like that concept, but I started writing the song more from the perspective of a love relationship, and I think it works. When it came time to record the song, I chose Dare Studios on Long Island and worked with Mike Epstein. He took my vision for the song, and helped me to turn it into something special. He brought in a whole bunch of musicians to work on the project who were a perfect compliment for the vibe of the song.
How did you begin your career in the genre of country music? When my daughter was born, we listened to country music on the radio all of the time. I started writing country music that I imagined she would someday sing. But when I started playing my songs for people, they encouraged me to pursue my dream of a career in country music. I have always loved country music and I had nothing to lose, so I put myself out there and started recording some of the songs I had written. I know my stuff isn’t cookie cutter, but I write what comes naturally, and am hopin’ that people appreciate that.
Can listener expect more music from you in the near future? If so, what can we expect to hear? How will it compare to the recent single? Yes! I’m going to keep writing because I enjoy the way it makes me feel and I enjoy the way people tell me my songs make them feel. I am in the middle of writing a song right now. I don’t know if it will be the next one I record, but I’m going to keep writing and see what feels right. I plan on recording something soon, but it’ll probably be a single. In terms of comparing my new songs with the old ones, I think that with each new song I write, I change and grow. I imagine the next song I record will be different from Rode Off Into The Sunset (That Night), yet in some ways the same, if that makes any sense.
What/who were your influences for this project? Rode Off Into The Sunset (That Night) was inspired by westerns. I’d have to say that Clint Eastwood was the main inspiration for the song. He’s just so fantastic, and starred in so many of them. And in some ways, I guess, my husband was an influence. I mean, when I wrote the song, I wrote it about a saloon waitress who falls for a sheriff and my husband is a law enforcement officer. I also cite Merle Haggard as an influence. He was the oulaw king of country music. My mamma used to say that when people died, they rode off into the sunset. He died during the recording of the song and I dedicated the song to him.
When you are not songwriting and recording, what takes up your free time? Well, I’m a mother of a toddler and three dogs, and I’m a wife. I also have a full-time job working in the field of law. So that pretty much takes up most of my time.
Tell us how you came up with the idea for the music video? I wanted the general public to get a taste of me as a performer, not just as a vocalist and songwriter. Prior to Rode Off Into The Sunset (That Night), I never did a performance video where I included a band. I chose to use musicians of all ages in the video because I am not seeking a particular fanbase, but rather seek to appeal to all ages. I wanted everyone watchin’ the video to feel included, like they could be a part of the band. And besides, if you’re a great musician of any age, then I’ll ready to work with you.
What was the filming process like? It was an awesome experience. Everyone was so great. We all just got to play the song over and over again, and have fun with it. My husband and daughter were there too. That is how my daughter ended up at the beginning of the video. She loves being a part of every aspect of my music which is so important.
How has your hometown influenced your music? What is the country scene like in NY? I was raised in Brooklyn, New York, so I think that my hometown has definitely given me a different edge in terms of what my songwriting is like. As you can imagine, there weren’t a huge amount of country fans in Brooklyn, New York when I was growing up. It’s an urban area and I was exposed to all types of music so there is a little of that mixed into what flows from me when I’m songwriting. As for country music scene in New York, I think that as time goes on, more and more people are embracing country music. There are a lot of country music fans in New York now. We now have country music festivals in New York, venues that feature famous country music artists, and bars that host some country music type events. Country music is taking over.
If you had the opportunity, would you move to Music City, USA, Nashville, TN to further pursue country music? I’d move to Nashville in a heartbeat. In fact, my husband and I have talked about moving there. Two summers ago, my family and I visited Nashville for the first time and we fell in love. It is a live-music driven party at all hours of the day, and my daughter was fascinated that she could go anywhere and be around country music, which she loves so much. She was so excited that the bands would interact with her. Besides the music aspect, there are so many other great things to do in Nashville. It seems like an amazing place to live.
What else can we expect from you in 2016? More songs, more videos, and hopefully a whole lot of performances. And maybe even some surprises.
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