"Eileen Willis: What sparked your interest in attending the Big Umbrella Festival?
Sonia De Los Santos: Hoping to learn, really! In the last couple of years I've been hearing more about sensory-friendly shows and the great impact they have on audiences on the autism spectrum. This festival seemed like the perfect opportunity to be educated on this topic and to be inspired to create more inclusive shows in the future.
EW: What age range do you typically see in the audiences for your children's performances?
SD: We play Latin American Folk music for all ages, from newborns to grandparents, but the typical children's age ranges around 2 to 9."I've given a lot of thought to the responsibility I have as an artist working with children and the importance of my role in their lives to present a message of hope and an opportunity to imagine a brighter, more inclusive tomorrow.
EW: What is your favorite part about playing for young audiences?
SD: There's many things, but one of the main reasons is because it gives me the invaluable opportunity to plant seeds in these young people's minds. I carefully choose every single message that is sent from the stage—from the songs we play, the countries we represent, the instruments we introduce, the languages we sing in, who's in the band…
I've given a lot of thought to the responsibility I have as an artist working with children and the importance of my role in their lives to present a message message of hope and an opportunity to imagine a brighter, more inclusive tomorrow. I also like to play for children because there's a very good amount of honesty in it. Getting in front of an auditorium full of kids takes a lot of energy. To me, it's not so much about jumping up and down during the show (I really don't), but about being present and connecting with every single child, parent, and teacher in the room."