Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sheila Chandra (144)

Sheila writes in the "Weaving My Ancestors Voices" statement:

'The voice is the first and ultimate instrument – it is the one means of expression used by every culture. Although different instruments often have relationships with each other across the continents, they come in different forms, they are played differently... but the voice remains biologically the same across all people. The means by which it is used, the sounds different peoples choose to emulate, is fascinating. The voice is connected to your blood supply! Because of this biological relationship, it is always going to be closer to your instinct, your soul and your emotion – rather than your intellect. The spirit of my ancestors is more accessible to me via the voice – it links into all cultures throughout time. 

I was born and brought up in England by my Indian family, and growing up I felt a great gap – an absence of roots and a context in which to place myself. In England I was surrounded by cultural stereotypes and images of the 'English rose' and knew I was never going to be like that. I was always an obsessive singer and when my adult voice developed, it was in a low register. In most Western traditions it is felt a woman's voice needs to be high but, to my great relief, I discovered that in the Asian tradition it is quite acceptable for a woman to have either a high or low range. My vocal technique developed from there with an instinctive interest in ornamentation. I then found something which was 'home' – and for me music is home. That is where I express my intention most accurately. 

Sheila Chandra