WEAVING MY
ANCESTORS' VOICES

 

 

 

 

   

 

John:

Time once again, for New Sounds. Our nightly, new music programme, here at WNYC. FM. I'm John Schaefer and on tonight's edition of the programme it's a pleasure for me to welcome to our studios, for the first time, singer and composer Sheila Chandra, who has had a very interesting career and has put out a remarkable new recording on Peter Gabriel's Real World record label, an album called "Weaving My Ancestors' Voices". And Sheila, it's first of all, good to have you here in the studio.

Sheila:

Nice to be here.

John:

There aren't too many people that we've had on this programme, who have retired and come out of retirement and are still in their twenties. So, I mean there's obviously a story there. Before we get to that though, the record that we're going to be focusing on tonight, "Weaving My Ancestors' Voices", actually weaves a lot of different voices, a lot of different traditions together. It would seem, on the surface, that things like the music of Ireland and England, on the one hand, and the music of India on the other, would be mutually incompatible. You've somehow found a way to bridge that though.

Sheila:

It's actually been very very easy and something that occurred to me through the voice, the experiments I was making with voice rather than any kind of clever, intellectual tie up. I'm sure you've noticed that many of the vocal ornaments, the trills and arpeggios remain the same through many, many traditions including, the American black soul and gospel traditions. Add to that the unaccompanied singing of Britain, that often incorporates the use of the drone or an implied drone, and you have very very close structures, which can actually be weaved without either of them losing their individual identity.

John:

Now on your various recordings through your career, you've combined the voice with other things, with instruments, both Indian and Western. The piece we're going to start with though, is just you, just the voice. And I guess, gives us the essence of this record in a nutshell, so to speak.

Sheila:

Yes, it pretty much does. The inspiration for this particular record was the fact that I'd - after eleven years of being a recording artist exclusively, decided I wanted to play live for the first time. The way I wanted to do it was within a very powerful context, as in giving the singer the ultimate power, because I go on stage, completely alone, without musicians.