Sheila Chandra

Description of Music

Asian influenced World Fusion. Strongly melodic, ornate vocal, often lyricless starting in pop and moving album by album to more lateral cutting edge soundscapes. As an artist has ignored trends, (most albums at the time of release had no contemporary comparison) and has tried instead to define the boundaries of world music and her own voice. Highly distinctive vocal approach. A pioneer.

Career Path

Worked exclusively in Asian Fusion in for almost three decades. Was the only full-time artist in Asian Fusion in the 80’s. A self-taught musician and writer. Made her writing debut in 1984 on her second solo album ‘Quiet’. Apart from her start with ‘Monsoon’ (signed to Phonogram) has worked with independents or small labels in order to retain artistic freedom. Has not generally favoured remixes (a few illicit ones have slipped through) and has never released a single as a solo artist. Manages herself.

Only played live for 2 years in the early 90’s, but returned briefly to live performance in the mid noughties until vocal stamina problems and pain issues forced her to retire . In 2001 ‘Billboard’ stated that ‘In the past five years a new round of second generation British Asian Musicians have emerged · all owe a debt to this 36 year old singer’s pioneering work’.


Typically sang completely alone onstage with the occasional taped ‘Drone’ (a constant note) as her only accompaniment, drawing on the ‘fusion within a single vocal line’ material found on the Real World trilogy of albums.

Voice problems/disability

Developed vocal stamina issues after an emergency operation in 1992 to save her sight as a clumsy intubation during the procedure scarred her vocal chords. Then developed Burning Mouth Syndrome in 2009 for which there is no known cause or cure. The result of these two conditions together is pain that lasts for hours or days if she speaks or sings.

Communicates largely by email, instant messenger, text and handwritten notes, although she has developed RSI from relying on written communication so heavily. Despite the pain, she does speak sometimes to ensure that her vocal mechanism does not completely atrophy. Describes the condition as being “like having a really bad PAYG mobile with hardly any credit on it” and plans the amount of time she talks around the amount of pain she thinks she can bear that day/week. On the upside, she can now write notes really, really fast.

Career as an author

Signed her first book ‘Banish Clutter Forever’ (2010) to Vermillion/Random House which became a bestseller. She also began mentoring the (then homeless) street artist Stik in 2008, writing a version of her next book, ‘Organizing for Creative People’ (Watkins, 2017) just for him. Stik has gone on to become one of the most famous and collectible street artists in the world.

Artist coaching

With more than 15 years of informal mentoring under her belt, and following requests after the publication of her second book, Sheila became a creative career coach. She now works via Skype with artists in all sorts of disciplines from all over the world.

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