Sonja Kristina and Curved Air are through legends. Sonja Kristina describes how she joined Curved Air as lead singer and lyricist, her first encounters with the other band members, and her love of Buffy Saint-Marie as a vocal inspiration and how a series of lucky breaks helped kick off Curved Air’s career. Watch Sonja’s full fascinating interview here:
Kristina was born in Brentwood as Sonja Christina Shaw, daughter of a criminologist and granddaughter of Swedish actress Gerda Lundequist.
Kristina first appeared on stage at the Swan Folk Club in Romford at the age of thirteen. Her first professional gig was at a Folk Festival in Southgate, London a year or so later. By 1968, while studying at the New College of Speech and Drama, Kristina was helping to run, and performing at, the Wednesday evening sessions at London’s Troubadour Folk Club. She was generally known on the folk scene as Sonja having previously appeared several times on the British children’s TV show Song and Story under that name. The track Elfin boy,
She also briefly sang with The Strawbs, following the departure of Sandy Denny. Dave Cousins remembered:
«Or Am I Dreaming” (on Strawbs LP) was very much inspired by the sessions I used to do at the Troubadour with Sonja Kristina … When Sandy left the band Sonja was going to be her replacement, but she did one show with us at a folk club in Chelmsford, and that was it. The reprise was about the magic mountain music man, which was me … that was in the poem I wrote about her which was going to be in the book of my poems that was never released».
On 1 January 1970, the singer received an official invitation to become a member of Curved Air. She remembered sitting backstage on the theatre stairs listening to a cassette of the band’s music Hanau had given her, and being much impressed. Described by Sting as a «C»real beauty, otherworldly and unattainable, Kristina played a full creative role bringing with it a powerful female sexuality».
Curved Air had a changing line-up over their nine albums (1970–1976 and 1990), with Kristina being the only constant element. Since 2008, she has taken part in a series of Curved Air reunion concerts. The track Back Street Luv,
After Curved Air, she returned to Hair. She has also performed solo, including as part of the acid folk movement in London in the early 1990s, culminating in her critically acclaimed Songs from the Acid Folk in 1991, and in a multi-media duo MASK, with Marvin Ayres.
Including the London version of the musical Hair (1968),Kristina has performed in numerous theatre and musical theatre productions from the early 1960s onwards, including East Lynne (1966),a lead role in Romeo and Juliet. The French Have a Song For It (1979) with Helen Shapiro, Man To Woman with Marsha Hunt in1982. The track Propositions,
In 1971, Kristina received the Sounds magazine Top Female Vocalist Award, and in 2014 the Guiding Light Award’at the Progressive Music Awards. The award was presented by television broadcaster, and long-standing Curved Air fan, Katie Puckrik for helping pave the way for other female artists who followed, including Kate Bush, Heather Findlay, Anne-Marie Helder and others.
Curved Air are an English progressive rock group formed in 1970 by musicians from mixed artistic backgrounds, including classical, folk, and electronic sound. The resulting sound of the band was a mixture of progressive rock, folk rock, and fusion with classical elements. Along with High Tide and East Of Eden, Curved Air were one of the first rock bands after It’s a Beautiful Day, The Flock and the United States Of America to feature a violin. Curved Air released eight studio albums, the first three of which broke the UK Top 20, and had a hit single with Back Street Luv (1971) which reached number 4 in the UK Singles Chart.