I
Sheila

About:

16 August 1945

Sheila, real name: Annie Chancel, was born in Créteil, in the Paris suburbs as a child of market sellers (her parents sold sweets at the markets in the area). In her teens, she took up dancing but problems with her heels prevented her from making a career of it. After leaving school she trained as an accountant for two years before finally going to work. Sheila started her musical career in 1962 as a singer in the rock group, the Guitar Brothers, after being noticed by Claude Carrère, a French music producer and songwriter. Their collaboration lasted more than 20 years but ended in 1995 with a lawsuit in which she won a royalties battle against her former producer. In 1963, Sheila became a pop star overnight. At the height of the 'yé-yé' trend her second single, 'L'Ecole est finie', was a huge hit, achieving record sales of 1.5 million.

In 1968, consolidated her star status with the hit, 'Petite fille de Français moyen'. Since her début she had brought out six albums and nearly twenty four-track forty-fives. Adored by the public, undoubtedly Sheila could have sung live to full houses but, strangely, Carrère organised no tour or live performance for her. She had to wait twenty years before appearing on stage in front of her fans. 

In 1977 she came back as 'Sheila and B. Devotion' (in some countries records were under the name 'Sheila B. Devotion'; in others, under 'Sheila and Black Devotion') and changed her style to disco. She also started singing in English. She again enjoyed success, with hits like 'Spacer' (from the album 'King of the world', produced by Chic), which was later sampled for the song 'Crying at the discothèque' by Swedish pop group Alcazar, 'Love me baby' and a cover of 'Singin' in the Rain'.

Having ended her collaboration with Carrère at the beginning of the 1980s, she took a new musical direction in 1983 when she met Yves Martin, a composer and producer who would later became her husband. She cut her hair short and commissioned couturier Jean-Paul Gaultier, then hardly known, to change her image. She produced her own album, 'Tangue au', for the first time, without much succes. A serious set-back came in 1985 when she decided to sing for a month at the brand new, 7000-seat Zenith auditorium, then the largest venue in Paris – an incredible risk for an artist who, despite her 20 year career, had never performed live on stage. The concerts were a failure.

Disillusioned with the music business, she abandoned her music career in 1989 after the flop of ‘Tendance’. She recided in writing books. One, ‘Et si c’était vrai’, digging up the dirt on Carrere and one, ‘La captive’, a true novel. However she had a successful comeback in 1998 with a new cd of re-recordings of her hits and some new songs, which went gold within one month of release.

Sheila is still popular, performing successful concerts in 1998 and 2002 at the Olympia. In 2002 Sheila underwent a difficult period in her personal life, losing both her parents within weeks of each other. These tragic events did not hold up the release of 'Seulement pour toi', a new 7-track cd featuring a number of old hits. In 2006 she performed at the Cabaret Sauvage, Paris, with an unplugged concert. The event was later released as a cd and dvd 'C'est ecrit' in 2008. In 2006 her complete recordings were issued in an 18 cd box set, which included more than 400 songs, unknown tracks, alternative takes, duets, tv performances and German, Italian, Spanish and English versions of her hits. In 2012 she celebrates her 50th anniversary on stage with the release of a new album containing ten brand new tracks

On the web:

- Sheila's site: http://www.sheilahome.com
- A very nice fansite:http://ondit.unblog.fr
- Another good fan-site: http://www.sheila-unehistoiredamour.com

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What do we think:

PR: Everyone between 30 and 40 years of age will remember Sheila's disco hit single 'Spacer'. It is one of the great songs she recorded since the early sixties. And being a singer without actually a good singing voice, that is a great accomplishment in itself. So she must do something right? In my opinion, it is the combination of her authentic personality, her hard working attitude (on stage), and the many ups and downs that she has encountered and always coming back stronger. This might also explain her huge gay fan base.

DB: I have to be honest, Sheila is not my first choice when asked for the best French music has to offer. In fact I find it a bit camp and, to my humble opinion, she just isn't such a good singer. Having said that, you could consider Sheila the earthmother of all idols, starmakers and other young artists that are molded and grinded by the music bizz nowadays. And she survived! Which shows the girl's got a backbone and a strong will as well. And after seeing the show at the Cabaret Sauvage she won me over by compensating her lack of vocal talents with a sympathetic stage persona and working her butt off to deliver a great show. Again, she won't be in my personal top 10 but she does have some nice tracks in her long career. 'Tam Tam du vent', 'Tangue au' and 'Spacer' are personal favourites.

Albums:

♪♪♪ - Le sifflet des copains - 1963

Ecoute ce disque - 1964

♪♪ - Tous les deux - Le folklore américain - 1965

♪♪ - L'heure de la sortie - Bang-bang - 1966

♪♪ - Dans une heure - Le kilt - 1967

♪♪♪ - Love - 1er album, 7 chansons nouvelles - 1971

♪♪♪♪ - L'Amour qui brûle en moi - 1976

♪♪♪ - Love me baby - Singin' in the rain - 1977

♪♪♪♪ - King of the world - 1980

♪♪ - Pilote sur les ondes - 1980

♪ - Little darlin - 1981

♪♪♪ - On dit - 1983

♪♪♪ - Je suis comme toi - 1984

♪♪ - Sheila au Zénith - 1985

♪♪♪♪♪ - Tendances - 1988

♪♪ - Je suis venue te dire... (Olympia 1989) - 1989

♪♪♪ - Sheila live à l'Olympia (2cd) - 1998

♪ - Dense - 1999

♪♪ - Seulement pour toi - 2002

♪♪♪ - Jamais deux sans toi (en concert à l'Olympia 2002) - 2003

♪♪♪♪ - C'est écrit - en concert au Cabaret Sauvage 2006 - 2008

♪♪½ - Solide - 2012

Further listening:

La vamp - Long sera l'hiver - 1968; Oncle Jo - 1969; Reviens je t'aime - 1970; Poupée de porcelaine - 1972; Quel Tempérament de feu - 1975

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


 

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