New York City native Sophie Beem had dreams of becoming a singer for as long as she can remember. Growing up, she would sing for her mom and her friends, perform at open mic nights around the city, and even auditioned and made it to the top 40 on The X Factor. But when her parents told her they were getting a divorce, she was left with a difficult decision: Let it bring her down, or use it to reach her dreams.
A then-13-year-old Sophie was performing an open mic night at one of her usual spots, The Bitter End, when she was approached by an unexpected fan. “Beyoncé’s general manager was in the crowd and told me she really enjoyed the show,” Sophie recalls to J-14. “She asked me to put together a package of my work for Beyoncé.”
Sophie knew this was a chance to make her dreams come true, but at the same time, she was struggling with the hardships of her parents’ divorce. “The songs that I write are very storytelling and at the time, my parents were going through a divorce and that really affected me,” Sophie shares. “Making that music really helped me cope with it — I used it as my therapy.”
After pouring her heart into five songs that she really believed in, Sophie sent them, along with a personal letter explaining her story and how much music meant to her, straight to Beyoncé. “Within a week, I got a call saying that she wanted to sign me as one of the first artists on her new label!” Sophie smiles. Best of all, she learned that it was her honesty about dealing with divorce that really impressed everyone at the label.
“I put my song about the divorce into that package,” Sophie tells us. “I heard that when Beyoncé listened to it, she actually cried!”
Now 17, Sophie learned a valuable lesson from her big break: She can turn even the most difficult situation into inspiration to do something great, like make music. And at the end of the day, when she is honest about what she’s experiencing, fans will connect to her. “I want people to be able to relate to my music,” she explains. “To have people coming to me saying, ‘That song spoke to me,’ it’s the best feeling!”
Interview and story by Toni Ferrigno. "How Sophie used heartbreak to drive her: 'My parents' divorce changed everything!'" originally appeared in the March 2017 print issue of J-14.