Tag Archives: Sonny J

Breathing danceable electro-life into a Donna Hightower classic.


Best described as simply a really really happy song, Sonny J sure knows how to recycle the retro stuff and breathe it right back in onto the dancefloors.

Originally from Liverpool, but currently residing in the seaside town of Whitstable in the southeast of England, Sonny J has made quite a name of himself after the release of his 2008 debut album, “Disastro”, which also included “Handsfree (if you hold my hand)”.

He first entered the mainstream music scene in 2007, after BBC Radio had aired an early demo of his first hit, “Can’t Stop Moving”, which Sonny J had made available for download on his Myspace. “Handsfree” adds an up-to-date danceable electro-sound to Donna Hightower’s 1972 soul classic “If you hold my hand”, and brings it perfectly back to life.

The idea of sampling Donna Hightower came as Sonny J first listened to her 1972 album: “Then it kicked in and didn’t sound like a black girl at all, it sounded like Dolly Parton and the black girl sounded country. I thought what a poetic fusion of a black girl sounding like country but with the currents of a kind of soulful voice” (from an interview with About.com).

The music video was directed by Eran Creevy, and is a mix of trailer-trash and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.  Rebecca Reaney was hired to mime the Donna Hightower samples while blindfolded, and Sonny J received some criticizm for not choosing an african american woman to act in the video.

Sonny J’ s real name is Sonnington James III.