Sonja Kristina

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Sonja Kristina
Kristina in 1970
Kristina in 1970
Background information
Birth nameSonia Christina Shaw
Born (1949-04-14) 14 April 1949 (age 74)
Brentwood, Essex, England
Years active1960s–present
LabelsCherry Red, Market Square
Member ofCurved Air
Formerly ofThe Strawbs

Sonja Kristina (born Sonia Christina Shaw; 14 April 1949)[1] is an English singer and songwriter, best known for starring in the original London production of the seminal 1960s musical Hair, and for being the lead vocalist of the 1970s progressive rock band Curved Air.[2][3]

Kristina is also an experienced voice coach. She was the Rock, Jazz and Musical Theatre tutor for Performing Arts students at Middlesex University from 1991 to 1999.


Kristina was born in Brentwood as Sonia Christina Shaw,[4] daughter of a criminologist and granddaughter of Swedish actress Gerda Lundequist.[5]


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.[6] Her first manager was Roy Guest of Folk Directions.[7]

In 1968, Kristina auditioned for and won the part of "Crissy" in the London stage production of the stage musical Hair.[8] She features on the original cast album singing the song "Frank Mills", also released as a single.[6] She also briefly sang with The Strawbs, following the departure of Sandy Denny.[8][9] 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.

Cousins eventually published the book, called The Bruising of Hearts, The Losing of Races, in 1993. It included a poem "Silver Smile", written for Kristina in the late 1960s.[10]

Curved Air[edit]

According to AllMusic, it was Galt MacDermot, who wrote the music for Hair and another musical Who the Murderer Was, who employed the four members of Curved Air as a house band, who suggested when the stage show closed that they add Kristina to the line-up.[11] Another version has it that manager Mark Hanau had the idea Kristina's alto [2] vocals could become a vital ingredient in a new band.[6][12] 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.[13] Described by Sting as a "real beauty, otherworldly and unattainable",[14] Kristina played a full creative role bringing with it a powerful female sexuality.[15] Her experiences working as a croupier in the London Playboy Club during the early 1970s, reflected itself in the stage persona she later developed.

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.[8] She was romantically involved with Curved Air drummer Stewart Copeland, they were married from 1982 to 1991.

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,[8] and in a multi-media duo MASK, with Marvin Ayres.[16]

In 2008, Curved Air was reformed with other original members including Darryl Way and Florian Pilkington-Miksa and, later, Kirby Gregory from the Air Cut line up. The band continues to record and perform internationally.[17]

Sonja Kristina has arrived on stage. Suddenly there is no band, no stage, no college kids. Just Sonja glinting in the green light. She moves like smoke across the stage, hardly seeming to move at all, but underdulating in slow motion. Who cares what the band is doing? As a muso I've never bothered with singers, considering them to be musical passengers/ How wrong I've been! She's not even singing yet, and she owns everything.Stewart Copeland[18]

Theatre productions[edit]

Kristina performing in 2015

Including the London version of the musical Hair (1968),[19] Kristina has performed in numerous theatre and musical theatre productions from the early 1960s onwards,[20] including East Lynne (1966),[21] a lead role in Romeo and Juliet,[20] The French Have a Song For It (1979) with Helen Shapiro,[22] Man to Woman with Marsha Hunt (1982),[23] and Shona [24]



In 1971, Kristina received the Sounds magazine Top Female Vocalist Award,[26] 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.[27]


Albums with Curved Air[edit]

Albums as Sonja Kristina[edit]

Sonja Kristina (1980)
  1. "Street Run" (Sonja Kristina, Alfie Agius)
  2. "Man He Colour" (Kristina, Agius)
  3. "Colder Than a Rose In Snow" (Paul Travis, Norma Tager)
  4. "Breaking Out In Smiles" (Kristina, Tager)
  5. "Mr Skin" (J. Ferguson)
  6. "Roller Coaster" (Kristina)
  7. "Full Time Woman" (Travis, Tager)
  8. "The Comforter" (Kristina)
  9. "St. Tropez" (Kristina, Paul Rudolf, Tager)
  10. "Fade Away" (Roy Hill)
Songs from the Acid Folk (1991) (with TY-LOR and friends)
All songs by Sonja Kristina except as shown
  1. "Anna"
  2. "Devil may care"
  3. "Melinda more or less"
  4. "Man he Colour"
  5. "This is not a Sanctuary"
  6. "Colder than a Rose" (Norma Tager and Paul Travers)
  7. "If this was Love"
  8. "Rollercoaster"
  9. "One to One"
  10. "Buccaneer"
  11. "Who was Hunter"
  12. "Citadel"
Harmonics of Love (1995) (with Cloud 10)
  1. "Tropical Birth" (Cloud 10) 1.57
  2. "Angel" (Sonja Kristina, Cloud 10) 5.41
  3. "Sounds of Sea" 0.57
  4. "Heart of Glass" (Kristina) 4.26
  5. "Marimbas/Lullaby" 1.51
  6. "Baby Song" (Kristina) 4.23
  7. "Woman's Heart" (E. McEvoy) 4.17
  8. "Divine Cloud Space" (Robert Norton) 1.56
  9. "Birdsong" 1.03
  10. "Elfin Boy" (Kristina) 5.10
  11. "Glastonbury Dawn" 1.35
  12. "Blindman"(Kristina) 3.02
  13. "Dreamers" (lyric A. O'Shaughnessy, music Kristina) 5.19
  14. "Chant/Voices" 1.12
  15. "Remember Yourself" (Norton) 2.20
Cri De Coeur (2003)
  1. "Don't Explain" (Billie Holiday, Arthur Herzog Jnr) 5.50
  2. "Lullaby" (Gian-Carlo Menotti) 2.51
  3. "Round Midnight" (Thelonious Monk, Cootie Williams) 5.49
  4. "Solitude" (Duke Ellington, Eddie de Lange) 5.15
  5. "Love for Sale" (Cole Porter) 4.53
  6. "Patterns" (Hard Maltby Jnr, David Shire) 3.52
  7. "Every Time We Say Goodbye" (Cole Porter) 2.50
  8. "Unworthy of Your Love" (Stephen Sondheim) 5.18
  9. "Skylark" (Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer) 4.15
  10. "I Have Nothing" (Linda Thompson, David Foster) 4.24
  11. "I'd Give My Life For You" (Claude-Michel Schonberg, Maltby Jr, Alain Boublil) 4.03
  12. "Cry Me a River" (Arthur Hamilton) 5.23
  13. "Petit Cri" (Marvin Ayres) 1.04
  14. "Reprise – Every Time We Say Goodbye" 1.07
Heavy Petal CD + DVD by MASK featuring Sonja Kristina (2005)
All Songs by Marvin Ayres and Sonja Kristina except as shown
Side One (CD)
  1. "Dark Murmur" (Ayres) 2.15
  2. "Global Incantation" 4.22
  3. "Paean" 2.51
  4. "Fall So Hard" (Ayres) 5.10
  5. "Healing Senses" 4.18
  6. "Blue Words" 5.04
  7. "Shelter Skelter" 3.28
  8. "Free" 5.44
  9. "Sliding Universe" (Ayres) 1.52
  10. "Lambent Spire" 6.42
  11. "Beloved" 4.06
  12. "Living Inside My Head" (Ayres) 3.25
  13. "Waking the Dream" 4.56
  14. "Sound of Tears Forming" (Ayres) 1.56
  15. "Those Ghosts" (Kristina) 3.29
Side Two (DVD)
  1. "Free" 5.47
  2. "Lambent Spire" 6.42
  3. "Healing Senses" 10.36


  1. "It Happened Today" (1971)
  2. "Back Street Luv" (1971)
  3. "St. Tropez" (1980)
  4. "Walk on By/O Fortuna" (1985)
  5. "Waking with Dream" (1985)

Other recordings[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Kristina married in 1971 and again to Stewart Copeland in 1982, with whom she had two sons. Copeland also adopted her son from a previous relationship.[18] She became acquainted with Copeland while he was first road manager and then drummer for Curved Air (1974–1976). They divorced in 1991.[8]


  1. ^ The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Colin Larkin. Omnibus Press 27 May 2011
  2. ^ a b Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture, Edward Macan, Oxford University Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0195098884
  3. ^ Citizens of Hope and Glory: The Story of Progressive Rock, Stephen Lambe Amberley, Publishing Limited, 30 January 2012, ISBN 978-1445616834
  4. ^ Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar magazine, October 1968
  5. ^ "Market Square Records - CD album - Sonja Kristina - reisuue of 1980 album by Curved Air vocalist". 26 March 2012. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  6. ^ a b c "Sonja Kristina". Archived from the original on 19 May 2006. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  7. ^ Pollack, Kevin (16 November 2012). "Interview with Curved Air Lead Singer Sonja Kristina Linwood". Rock Chicago Magazine. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Kristina rocks". The Malaysia Star. 12 October 2008. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  9. ^ "Related Bands and Artists – Sonja Kristina/CurvedAir/Mask". Strawbsweb. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  10. ^ "Sonja Kristina / Curved Air / MASK". Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  11. ^ Dave Thompson. "Curved Air". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  12. ^ a b Mojo, May 2014
  13. ^ "Cherry Red TV interview". Cherry Red Records. Archived from the original on 22 December 2021. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
  14. ^ Broken Music: A Memoir By Sting, Pocket Books, ISBN 978-0743450812
  15. ^ Citizens of Hope and Glory: The Story of Progressive Rock, Stephen Lambe, Amberley Publishing Limited, 30 January 2012, ISBN 978-1445616834
  16. ^ "Marvin Ayres profile". NME. 23 January 2010. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  17. ^ Prog, April 2014, p. 58 Over and Above by Sid Smith
  18. ^ a b Strange Things Happen: A Life with the Police, Polo and Pygmies, Stewart Copeland, Harper Collins UK, 8 July 2010, ISBN 978-0007339402
  19. ^ The Stage Year Book, Issue 38, Carson & Comerford Ltd., 1969
  20. ^ a b The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Volume 5, Colin Larkin, Oxford University Press, USA, 20 Nov 2006
  21. ^ "Operation Billiards – Mitrokhin or Oshchenko ?: Thurrock Youth Theatre – "East Lynne" reviewed including Sonja Kristina". 12 September 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  22. ^ "Production of The French Have a Song for It". Theatricalia. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  23. ^ "SingSong PR – CD album by Mask called Heavy Petal featuring one-time Curved Air singer Sonja Kristina and multi-instrumentalist arranger Marvin Ayres". Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  24. ^ The International Who's Who in Popular Music, Psychology Press, 2002, ISBN 978-1857437201
  25. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Plater, Alan (1935–2010) Biography". Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  26. ^ The International Who's Who in Popular Music 2002, Psychology Press, 2002
  27. ^ Prog Magazine 01/10/2014 Sonja Kristina Wins Guiding Light Award by Jerry Ewing.'"The Guiding Light Award is for those artists who offer inspiration through their actions. As one of the leading ladies of a genre once thought of as very much a male domain, Sonja has been a pioneering spirit in the prog world, and an inspiration to the now many female artists in the genre who have followed on. I cannot think of a better suited recipient.' [1][2]
  28. ^ The Virgin Encyclopedia of 70s Music. Colin Larkin, Virgin, 2002, ISBN 978-1852279479
  29. ^ "Alan Burridge". Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  30. ^ "Neuschwanstein: Alice In Wonderland ft. Sonja Kristina". Cherry Red Records. Retrieved 26 September 2022.

External links[edit]