Biography All Music GuideWikipedia
All Music Guide:
One of the most unusual and successful singers of the '80s and '90s that has attempted to fuse the music of non-Western cultures with Western pop, Sheila Chandra began recording as a teenager in Monsoon. Of Indian ancestry but born and raised in Britain, Chandra took lead vocals in the band, which pursued a sort of new wave-tinged raga rock along the lines of George Harrison's explorations on Beatles tracks like "Love You To." The combination yielded an album and an unexpected British hit single, "Ever So Lonely," in the early '80s. Chandra, however, felt limited by the label's pressures for more commercial product, and signed to a small indie label, Indipop, which she felt would offer more freedom for her explorations as a solo artist.
In the mid-'80s, Chandra was astonishingly prolific, releasing five solo albums over a period of about two or three years, which drifted away from the Asian dance-pop of Monsoon into a more personal sort of world fusion. Chandra also began to write much of her own material, usually in collaboration with producer and husband Steve Coe; Coe had also helped produce, write, and perform the music in Monsoon with Martin Smith, who assisted on Chandra's early solo records. Indian instruments were still usually employed, and electronic rhythm tracks still sometimes used to guarantee some measure of danceability and pop/rock appeal. But with increasing frequency, Chandra was pushing herself beyond the parameters of pop/rock with wordless pieces of both melismatic singing and percussive mouth noises, ambitious song cycles, interwoven overdubbed vocal tracks, and a 27-minute track based around a raga. (Her mid-'80s Indipop albums have been reissued in the U.S. by Caroline.)
Chandra truly matured as an artist, however, with her '90s albums for Peter Gabriel's Real World label (distributed in the U.S., again, by Caroline). As proof that adulthood doesn't have to mean tamer and more mainstream product, these found Chandra achieving a true world fusion that drew from Indian ragas, elements of British folk, Middle Eastern chants, sophisticated studio overdubs, and more vocal percussion compositions, the last of which bordered on the downright experimental.
Chandra and Coe were now almost solely responsible for the music (Martin Smith no longer being an active participant), constructing drone-like instrumental textures to suitably complement Chandra's oft-wordless singing. Pop and rock were hardly factors anymore; Chandra was primarily interested in extending the limits of vocal expression, whether applied to Indian, Spanish, or Islamic forms, or the kind of material that could find a suitable home in the repertoire of June Tabor or Laurie Anderson. These recent works have firmly established Chandra as one of the principal boundary jumpers of contemporary music, but she's not a dilettante, and she imbues her music with a haunting, spiritual grace. In 2010, Chandra was diagnosed with 'Burnt Mouth Syndrome', a painful neurological disorder that ended not only her recording career but her ability to speak as well.
Sheila Chandra (born 14 March 1965 in London) is an English pop singer of Indian descent.
Indian-Western pop fusion period 
Sheila Chandra first came to public attention as an actress, playing Sudhamani Patel in the BBC school drama Grange Hill from 1979 to 1981.
As a teenager she formed the band Monsoon with Steve Coe (who became the band's producer), and bassist Martin Smith. Monsoon created a fusion of Western and Indian pop styles. They recorded their lone album Third Eye in 1982 from which they had a surprise hit single Ever So Lonely, which peaked at #12 in the UK. They followed-up with the single, "Shakti", which peaked at #41, but this was to be the band's final charting single. The album also includes a cover of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows", featuring the distinctive EBow guitar sound of Bill Nelson.
Resenting pressure from their record company over musical direction, Monsoon dissolved in 1982 and Coe and Smith set about promoting Chandra as a solo artist on independent Indipop Records. Phonogram "posthumously" released Third Eye in 1983.
Chandra went on to release a number of albums in the 1980s, at times experimenting with her voice as an instrument through a range of techniques. In the 1990s she released three albums on Peter Gabriel's Real World label, although Martin Smith was no longer actively involved by this time.
Shift to solo voice and drone style 
In the 1990s Chandra decided, having been a studio artist exclusively, to give concerts for the first time, and concurrently released a trilogy of albums on Peter Gabriel's Real World label. These were in the minimalist ‘solo voice and drone’ style which she developed especially for live performances, so that she could perform alone on stage with only the occasional taped drone for accompaniment. Martin Smith was no longer actively involved by this time. Drawing on similarities of structure between Indian ragas and English folk melodies, she started to incorporate many British and Irish traditional songs and techniques, as well as other vocal styles and techniques from around the world. Vocal stamina issues caused her to abandon live performances in 1994 and she only returned to the concert stage in 2007.
Other projects 
In 1990 Chandra interrupted her sabbatical to record a single ("Raining") with the folk/synth band Ancient Beatbox which also appeared on their self-titled album. In 2000 she contributed two tracks, one a cover version of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren" and the other a remix of her solo track "Ever So Lonely/Eyes/Ocean" by Stephen Haig, to the album Gifted on Real World Records.
Chandra is a respected performer on the world music scene and remains active into the 21st Century. In 2001 Chandra released a collaborative album with The Ganges Orchestra entitled This Sentence Is True based on her two experimental EPs with them (EEP 1, EEP2).
2002 saw the release of a remix of her original hit single "Ever So Lonely" retitled "So Lonely" by the band Jakatta. It charted at no 8 in the UK. In 2002 she performed the song entitled "Breath of Life" (retitled "The Grace of Valar" in its 2006 release) with Howard Shore for the The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers soundtrack.
In 2007, she recorded two songs for Simon Emmerson's project The Imagined Village, which set out to re-interpret traditional English songs using a wide range of contemporary English musicians. She also appeared with The Imagined Village on a concert tour of England in the late autumn of 2007.