Kadhja Bonet's Quarter-Life Crisis Led Her Home — To Music Bonet grew up in a house full of musical instruments, but she didn't commit to becoming a songwriter and performer until her mid-20s. She joins NPR to talk about her journey back.

Kadhja Bonet's Quarter-Life Crisis Led Her Home — To Music

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When Kadhja Bonet was 25 years old, she had a quarter-life crisis.

KADHJA BONET: I had to sort of challenge myself to figure out who I really was, like, who was the essence of me so that I can feel confident and comfortable and get everything that I want out of this short life.

SHAPIRO: Bonet's career choice was bringing her down.

BONET: I was in film school. I was miserable in film school. And I wasn't being able to express myself.

SHAPIRO: So she found another outlet, music, and made an album called "The Visitor."


BONET: (Singing) So many restless nights I brought unto myself, oh.

SHAPIRO: This came out in October. We missed it then because, well, news. But we didn't want to let 2016 go by without giving Bonet's music a listen.


BONET: (Singing) I am love, love, love, love.

SHAPIRO: A little background on Kadhja Bonet - she grew up in California in the East Bay near San Francisco in a family of seven children. She's the one in the middle. Her dad is an opera singer and her mom is a musician. There were instruments all around the house, and the children were encouraged to learn music. That's not what Bonet studied in college, though. And when she did dive back into music, she didn't play the kind of music she had learned growing up.


BONET: My dad absolutely wanted me to be a classical violinist. And that was my struggle as a kid because I'd - my heart was not in that same place. You know, for me, my favorite music is not Mozart and things that are sort of I consider more mathematical and very predictable. But I much preferred the sort of, you know, the gypsy folk music that I would kind of try to incorporate into my training or Klezmer, things like that. So I was kind of rebelling in my small way against the classical violin world (laughter).


BONET: (Singing) They say I should grin and bear while I'm frightened I'll lose you.

One of the very first songs I wrote was "Nobody Other" in college. And I remember playing it for a group of friends. And I think it was the first song that I played for anybody else. And it was probably the most terrifying experience of my life.


BONET: (Singing) Let me show, show what you mean to me. Let me show, show what you mean to me. Let me show, show what you mean to me. Let me show.

If the people that I played it for hadn't been as, like, responsive, like, receptive and open, I probably wouldn't have ever done it again (laughter). But I did it. And it was actually written about a friend of ours. So it was, like, kind of especially vulnerable. Everybody knew who it was written about. But it was good to get that kind of immediate positive feedback. It definitely, like, gave me a little bit of confidence to keep writing.


BONET: (Singing) There is no other I'd rather call my man.

My dad, I think, heard me live for the first time not too long ago, just a few months ago. You know, of course he had lots of pointers and he was really eager to get me some voice lessons because I'm, you know, I don't have opera training. So he was, like, really eager to set me straight.


BONET: (Singing) Honeycomb, drip amber rays of sun the sweetness that is you.

But overall, (laughter) he was really supportive and really happy that in some way I found music. I think really he just wanted me to love music as much as he did. So I think he's really happy that I came back around to it.


BONET: (Singing) Without a doubt, before the morning comes, I dream a bit of you, honeycomb. And several languid thoughts will surface like honey dew drops forming new.

SHAPIRO: Violinist, singer and composer Kadhja Bonet. Her debut album is called "The Visitor."

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