WEAVING MY
ANCESTORS' VOICES

 

 

 

 

   


Sheila:

I think it is now. When I was growing up though, there was very, very little Asian culture available. I wasn't growing up particularly in a heavily populated Asian area, Indian area, so if I wanted to find Indian dance or music, I had to go looking for it. There was precious little in the media because the second generation hadn't grown up and started to enter the media at all sorts of levels.

John:

Your family didn't play - they had to have a Lata Mangeshkar records in the house and stuff like that?

Sheila:

Oh yeah, but I think there was also a feeling of it being largely irrelevant, because there was no place in the main stream where that kind of music was validated. And, I mean, quite the opposite. The Asian community was being portrayed in the media largely as a social problem and the idea that cultural riches were something that they brought with them that were of use to everybody, were certainly not an idea that was around then. And I didn't have a collection of Hindi film records but had friends who I found out later would, sort of, tuck them away under a sheet in a corner, if any of their English friends came round and bring out their Tina Turner albums or what have you. And so the feeling about the time that Monsoon actually had a top ten hit and made an extremely Indian record in terms of its, I mean it was pop vocal and it was built with a kind of a pop chorus structure in mind but it was written on a raga - it had a sitar solo in the middle and tabla solos and all sorts of things. For that to be accepted on the dance floor and to be thought of as main stream music before there was any kind of category, such as world music in Britain, that was very much an evolutionary leap and a leap for me as a person because it meant that I could finally find a place to put all the bits of me that had heretofore, been missing.

John:

Now Monsoon, when you refer to Monsoon, that is, we're talking about what 1982, and that was the band?

Sheila:

That was the band, that I was asked to join as a lead singer.

John:

And you must have been all of 16 at the time. Well, that's gotta be, sort of, a heady thing for a teenager to handle. Suddenly having a, you know, a top 40 hit on your hands. And from there, came this series of your solo recordings and on the latest one, you've actually gone back to that first hit, which was called "Ever So Lonely".