Born in South London to a South Indian immigrant family, Sheila Chandra discovered her voice at the age of twelve and whilst at Theatre Arts school. From this moment her chosen path was to be a singer. Lacking any real contacts or access to the music business, she nevertheless honed her vocal skills as a labour of love, spending up to two hours a night throwing her voice into the tall, draughty and uncarpeted stairwell of the family home: “I didn’t know how to manufacture an opportunity, but I was determined that when a chance came my way I would be ready.”

After touring the USA with Peter Gabriel’s 1993 WOMAD tour, there followed ‘The Zen Kiss’ and ‘ABoneCroneDrone’. The latter was a daring minimalist strategy to lure the listener out of long accustomed passivity to hear, as Chandra does, the living symphony of harmonics within the simplest of drones.

As with all Chandra’s solo work there were no singles and each of the albums was signed to Real World as a one-off. Chandra has sold over a quarter of a million albums in the last five years, which has vindicated the riskiness of her approach. ‘Moonsung — A Real World Retrospective’ features some of the best of her work on Real World, including two new and previously unreleased tracks, and is a fine introduction to the world of this unique and innovative artist.

A woman working out on the boundaries of the possible.

Johnny Black, Q