Sheila Chandra – Roots and Wings

sheilachanEven if you don’t instantly recognize the name, chances are really fucking high that you know Sheila’s voice. She sang a couple of tunes in this super underground flick called The Lord of the Rings. Ever heard of it? She’s on that shit in spades, more specifically, throughout The Two Towers. What?! You happen to be that one motherfucker that didn’t watch The Lord of the Rings? Well, okay then. Ever heard the song “Smack My Bitch Up” from The Prodigy? No, she’s not the dude continually talking about beating his pet dog (oh ’90s, what the fuck were you even doing?). She’s the one that sings like God just granted you three wishes (or whatever that motherfucker does). This shit is now club cannon. Young tubed-topped girls from around the world will jump from their chairs and exclaim with glee, “That’s my sooong!” before gyrating wildly and waving their arms around like they’re pieces of wheat being blown around by some DMT-induced wind. 

Sheila’s voice is synonymous with a voice of an angel because, well, she fucking sounds like one. Before she threw out those heavily tones, this born Londoner decided to dig into her Indian roots by singing like a traditional badass. She played with a band called Monsoon until her label said, “It’s good. I like it. But, can it be less Indian?” Sheila peaced out like a boss. Luckily for her, Peter Gabriel is also boss. The dude took all his Genesis bills and started a label called Real World Records. Mr. Solsbury Hill scooped Sheila up, put her on his label, and helped start her solo career. 

If you’re wondering why I’m not reviewing one of Sheila’s more recent albums, it’s because life can sometimes be a garbage yard filled with fuckyou’s for days. Sheila was forced to retire from singing in 2010 because of burnt mouth syndrome (BMS). What the fuck is BMS you ask? Well, whenever Sheila tries to speak, laugh, cry, or sing, it feels like her mouth is on fire. No shit. It’s a real thing. The pain can last for days. We don’t know what fucking causes it and, more importantly, we don’t know how to cure it. So now one of the most angelic voices to ever live is totally mute. What the fuck is that shit? If I ever find that magic bible I’m going to rub the shit out of it so I can get me those Jesus wishes (or, however that shit works). 

One of the favourite parts of this album, outside of Sheila’s angelic voice, is her use of Konnakol. This is fucking awesome. It’s a type of vocal percussion (you know, like beatboxing) but it’s been around since, oh I don’t know, 4000 BCE! Now that’s OG beatboxing. If you want to hear some of it, here is a video of a girl that looks about fourteen pulling out such complex and seamless abstract time signatures, that jazz drummers, music theorists, and Tool have all shat themselves. Sheila pulls this out like it ain’t no thang. But, don’t be fooled, this is not easy and takes years to master. 

I feel like a more romantic writer would refer to some Icarus kind of shit right now. Fuck that. I’ll admit, there’s a poeticism to one of the most otherworldly voices being taken down by a syndrome the world doesn’t understand. But, if you look at that shit closely, it’s just bad fucking luck. That’s all it is. The world be like that sometimes. Sure, I could go down some mental dank dark corner to throw down some wishes, prayers, and biblical rubs. But I, for one, would rather appreciate the evanescent beauty which is Sheila’s voice and her hella awesome OG beatboxing.








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