Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Born and raised in Detroit, vocalist Sheila Landis knew singing was to be her career as she listened to the soundtrack of Lady Sings the Blues. The great Billie Holiday songs from that film galvanized her attention and emotions. Later, while an English major at Oakland University, she hung out at the Performing Arts Building meeting such Detroit jazz artists as Marcus Belgrave. So the stage was already set as far as music as a career was concerned when she entered the fray in 1973 with a Top 40 group called the Vineyards. In 1981, Landis formed her own record company, Shelan, and has been issuing an album on that label virtually every year since then. Much of her early work on LP is still available. She met her musical and romantic soul mate, guitarist Rick Matle, in 1990. They have worked together ever since in a variety of combinations, duo, trio, and their six to eight member band Brazilian Love Affair. The latter is the main instrument to express Landis' long-standing romance with Brazilian music, bossa nova, and samba, captured on such albums as Where Jazz Lives and Colors of Brazil. Landis uses the trio, which includes Matle plus percussionist, to delve into the realm of jazz poetry. Two of her albums incorporating this technique are The Bird Inside and Where Jazz Lives.
Landis has an extraordinarily flexible voice and an uncanny ability to use it to great advantage. She scats, sings ballads, loves Latin rhythms, and can swing. She does jazz, rock, bebop, as well as Latin with absolute equanimity. This multifaceted musical elasticity allows her to take part in any jazz scenario with ease and with excellent results. Landis has chosen to consider herself a Detroit artist, doing most of her work in and around the Motor City. In appreciation of this loyalty as well as for her talent, she has been the recipient of many area awards, including being named outstanding jazz vocalist for four different years by Detroit Music Awards. She is a regular participant in Detroit music festivals, including the Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival, and performs regularly at a number of spots in the Detroit area. Although having been on stage for more than 30 years, Landis has never fallen into a rut. Her work continues to exude vitality, excitement, diversity, and originality.