OKC Pride 2017 Grand Marshall
Sonja Martinez has been performing in the Oklahoma City area for many years. She began lip syncing with the best female impersonators Oklahoma City has to offer. After performing at Night Life, she would spend time at Tony’s Club on North Western and was mesmerized by Tony Sinclair. Tony befriended her and encouraged her to perform there with the other female impersonators. She was blessed with the opportunity to have performed with some true legends of the Oklahoma City community, some of which are no longer with us. Having come from a family rich with musical talent, Sonja decided to explore her ability to really sing. So, after lip syncing for six years, Sonja started singing live.
In 1984, Sonja became the first Ms. Gay Oklahoma “The Lady for ’84” in a talent contest for ‘real women’ who would compete in talent, interview and attire at The Free Spirit.
Sonja began her own work to help support AIDS charities in 1991 after losing some very dear friends to the horrific ravages of AIDS. Sonja was a friend of Barbara Cooper’s at the time that Barbara and Jackie lost their son to AIDS. As Barbara and Sonja spoke they decided to do benefits, Barbara created the Red Tie and Sonja created The Sonja Martinez Christmas AIDS Benefit in the Gay Community, for the Gay Community. At that time Sonja began a small dinner show at Gushers Restaurant and had local singers perform with her. That Benefit continues today with the continued support of The COPA and the COPA Staff. Flowers donated through the years by Rick Moses and Tony Foss Flowers. The entertainers dedicate their time and talents to help raise money for this worthy cause. Her dear friends, Mr. John-Martin Beebe, Mr. Gay America 1996 and Roxie Hart/Jacob Sparso - have been the most consistent performers. Over 26 years it has $171,190.50 which has been donated to Loaves and Fishes and The Winds House.
Sonja has had the opportunity to perform in many venues. She performed at Makers in Bricktown for a period of time with Rich Klessig at piano. She has performed at Military Balls in McAlester and Oklahoma City to honor our Veterans and has performed occasionally at The Grand House on Classen Blvd. with a Jazz Band, to name a very few. Sonja has a regular show, Sonja & Friends the first Friday of each month at PartnersToo Club. She has a regular country western show on the third Friday of each month called Women of Country at PartnersToo Club. In addition to performing herself, Sonja works to showcase other talent from the Oklahoma community, including live singers and female impersonators.
In 1996, Sonja received recognition from Loaves and Fishes for her support and in 2004 she was designated Volunteer of the Year by the Board of Directors of the Catholic Charities.
In 2009 Sonja received The Richard May Award at The Red Tie Night. The Richard May Award was established by the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund to honor Richard May, a founder of the organization who passed away in March 2000. The premise of the Richard May Award is that it is to be given to annually in recognition of an individual who has given in an exceptional way, of their time and talents to promote education, research and service regarding HIV/AIDS. The recipient should exemplify quiet strength and compassion, never seeking recognition, which was the spirit of Richard May.
Sonja has been very fortunate to always have the support of her family. Sonja was brought up listening to the music of her parents. The influences of the ‘Big Band’ era, Patsy Cline, Nancy Wilson, and George Sherian, were her early introduction into music and still remain some of her favorites today. She particularly likes the 50’s and 60’s music and performs it often. But whether it’s ‘Scotch and Soda’ or Melissa Etheridge’s ‘I’m The Only One’, Sonja has a variety that spans the decades.
May 12, 2012 Sonja received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Miss Gay Oklahoma Organization. “I was chosen for the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Miss Gay Oklahoma Organization of female impersonators, whom I consider to be peers, mentors and friends is such an honor. Words cannot express how much this means to me! None of this would be possible without the support of the entire community. Thank you all.”
Also in May 2012, Sonja and Dee were Grand Marshals for the OGRA rodeo in Oklahoma City.
October 5, 2012 Sonja received the Bill Rogers Lifetime Achievement Award
March 9, 2013 Sonja received The Imperial Court Of All Oklahoma Coronation VI. “What a wonderful evening. I received the James Murray Community Spirit Award. This award was presented by the court to a member or organization of the LGBT community for outstanding service. I was very honored and I thank The Imperial Court Of All Oklahoma and I will always treasure this award. I thank you The Imperial Court Of All Oklahoma for all you do.”