Singer-songwriter Sia has written hit pop songs for famous musicians such as Rihanna, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera and David Guetta. She started off in an acid jazz band in Adelaide that was known as 'Crisp' and later released her debut studio album in 1997 in Australia. She moved to London and provided lead vocals for duo 'Zero 7' and later signed to Sony in 2000. She is a phenomenal artist who has wowed the public with her powerful voice, hit songs and the prowess of her lyricism. She is a private person and does not like fame, a stand that has led her to coin out her own personal image, famous for covering her face with a signature black and white wig.
Sia was born as Sia Kate Isobelle Furler in Adelaide, Australia. Her mother Loene Furler is an art lecturer and her father Phil Colson a fellow-musician. She is the niece to Kevin Colson, an actor and singer, as well as to Colin Hay, a musician who is a member of ‘Men at Work’, an Australian group. She attended Adelaide High School and graduated in 1994. Her early influences were Sting, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. She states that she used to imitate their performances as a child.
She started singing in ‘Crisp’, a local acid jazz band and contributed vocally to their two EPs. The band disbanded in 1997, causing Sia to launch out on her own by releasing her first studio album titled ‘Only See’, selling 1,200 copies.
Sia moved to London after the release of her debut studio album and signed to Sony Music Records sub-label Dance Pool. She released her first single – ‘Taken for Granted’ – which peaked in the UK Singles chart at number ten. She then released her second solo studio album in 2001 titled ‘Healing is Difficult’. It was a mix of reto jazz and soul music. It dealt with the loss of her first love-affair. She ended up leaving Sony and firing her manager as she was displeased with the promotion of the album. She then signed to Go! Beat, a subsidiary of the Universal Music Group (UMG). She won the Breakthrough Songwriter category at the APRA Awards in 2002 alongside the Brisbane pop duo Aneiki.
Over the course of 1997 to 2006, Sia contributed vocals to duo ‘Zero 7’ as the lead on their first three studio albums. The songs that she contributed were ‘Destiny’ and ‘Distractions’ in the album ‘Simple Things’, ‘Somersault’ and ‘Speed Dial No. 2’ in the album ‘When it Falls’ and in the third album ‘The Garden’. This led her to being known as the unofficial lead singer of the group.
In 2004, Sia released her third studio album, ‘Color the Small One’. It had a different feel to it with a backing of both acoustic and electronic instruments. The most successful songs from the albums were ‘Breathe Me’ (which peaked at number 71 in the UK, 81 in France and 19 in Denmark), ‘Where I Belong’ which was to be included as the soundtrack for Spider-Man 2 but ended up being omitted due to some record label conflict, ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ and ‘Numb’. The poor marketing of the album and the disconnect with the mainstream audience led to Sia relocating to New York in 2005. ‘Breathe Me’ appeared in the final scene of the HBO Television series Six Feet Under and this added a boost in Sia’s popularity in the United States. David Enthoven, Sia’s manager, set up a U.S tour to maintain her career.
Sia released a live album, ‘Lady Croissant’, in 2007 and followed it up with a release of her fourth studio album in January 2008. The album was titled ‘Some People Have Real Problems’ and peaked at number 41 in Australia. It was number 26 in the U.S. Billboard 200 and marked a great milestone for the singer. ‘Day Too Soon’ peaked at number 24 on the US Hot Dance Club Songs. ‘Soon We’ll Be Found’, ‘The Girl You Lost to Cocaine’ and ‘Buttons’ were three singles that the fourth studio album yielded in addition to ‘Day Too Soon’. Each had phenomenal success in different countries, including the US, Spain and the Netherlands.
In 2009 Sia wrote songs for Christina Aguilera’s upcoming sixth studio album. In the end, ‘Bionic’ ended up incorporating three songs that Sia co-wrote. She also co-wrote the Burlesque film soundtrack ‘Bound To You’ that was nominated in the 68th Golden Globe Awards as the best original song. In the following year she appeared as Aguilera’s advisor and voice coach in the inaugural season of the US version of The Voice. In June of the same year she released her fifth studio album, ‘We Are Born’ which peaked at number two in the Australia Recording Industry Association Album Chart and was certified gold yet again. She followed up the release with a tour visiting North America and Europe in April and May of 2010. She then took up the We are Born Tour that saw her visit Australia in February of 2011 and North America in July and August of the same year.
Sia retired from her career as a recording artist after her fifth studio album. She attributed this to fame taking a toll on her which drove her to drug and alcohol addiction and led to her considering suicide before a call from a friend persuaded her to join rehab. She decided to concentrate on songwriting during which she wrote ‘Titanium’ a hit single for David Guetta. The song was originally meant for Alicia Keys but a change led to David getting it instead. David included Sia’s vocals from the original demo in the final track which he released in 2011. The song peaked in five record charts in the US, Australia and Europe. Sia was pleased with the success of the single because she had just retired and did not expect it. She was focusing on her songwriting and not her singing career. She also co-wrote songs for other popular artists including Flo Rida and Kylie Minogue.
Sia came back onto the scene with the release of ‘Elastic Heart’ which was featured as the sound track of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire film in 2013. She later released 1000 Forms of Fear, her sixth studio album, which was in the US Billboard 200 with over 52,000 in sales over just the first week of release. The record was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry and gold by ARIA. ‘Chandelier’, the first lead single, was released in March 2014 and was number 8 on US Billboard Hot 100. It also had success in Australia and other European regions. The song had sold over 2 million copies by January 2015. The record yielded other popular and widely successful singles such as ‘Elastic Heart’, ‘Big Girls Cry’ and ‘Eye of the Needle’. Chandelier received four nominations at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards: Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, Record of the Year and Bet Music Video.
Sia released another studio album, ‘This Is Acting’. She gave a great performance at Coachella in 2016 which went viral. The performance was termed legendary. It was her first full concert since 2011.
Sia’s public image has largely been characterized by her huge wigs that cover every part of her face but her nose and mouth. She showed up to the 2015 Grammys in a shaggy wig that covered everything but her nose and mouth and performed while standing at a corner facing the wall, with Maddie dancing. Many referred to this as satanic and outright weird, although Maddie had stolen the show with her dancing. Everyone agrees that her talent is undeniable and that the performance and hiding her face would not have an effect on her popularity as her music speaks for itself. While she has been in the music industry writing hit pop songs since the ’90s, Sia has only recently burst into the limelight in person and as a popular solo artist. She is unapologetic about hiding her face. Her reason behind this is that she does not like fame at all. She has been around famous people for a long time and has grown to be friends with them. She has seen the kind of lives they live in the public eye with constant criticism and harsh opinions. She does not want to be criticized online about how she looks. She wants the music to speak for itself and to stay away from fame. Her analogy is that of a judgmental, insistent, critical mother-in-law being in every other teenager behind a computer all over the world. This will be difficult though, as her popularity keeps soaring.
Sia works with different charities, including teaming up with PETA to help end animal overpopulation and homelessness. She is vocal about the need to nurture animals in order to decrease their rate of reproducing, thus decreasing the number of animals that end up homeless and abandoned because of overpopulation. She also donated all her proceeds from a collaboration with Eminem to an LGBT charity. She expressly stated that she would not work with anyone who was homophobic. In the track Eminem uses derogative terms such as ‘faggots’ which widely upset the LGBT community and reflected on Sia as she is bisexual. However, Sia defended Eminem as not homophobic, explaining that he has a character ‘Slim Shady’ who represents the most evil and bile in humanity. This character and him, as a person, are separate. Eminem had gone on record supporting same sex marriages by saying that everyone has a right to be miserable together and he does not mind that.
Sia likes for her personal life to remain private; a fact well known as a result of her wig-wearing antics. She has suffered from depression, anxiety and an addiction to painkillers among other things.
Sia’s album, ‘Healing Is Difficult’ was based on the loss of Dan Pontifex, her first boyfriend who died in London. Sia moved to London after ‘Crisp’ disbanded in 1997 in order to be with Dan. She later received a phone call while in London that Dan had died in a car accident. She moved back to Australia and later moved back to London after Dan’s flat-mates invited her to stay with them. The effect that the death had on her was pretty intense. In a 2007 interview she recalled how the death had messed her up and that she had lost the ability to intellectualize anything. She did not feel that she had a purpose or was loved despite the fact that she was. She is now married to documentary filmmaker Erik Anders Lang. They got married in 2014 in her Palm Springs home. Sia is also a vegan and supports animal rights. She has also stated that she is a feminist on more than one occasion.
Sia is open about the fact that she is bipolar. Growing up, she smoked a lot of weed or pot and she reckons that this messed up her brain. She does not like blaming anything on her parents, although she opened up about her unusual relationship with her father while she was growing up. He had two distinct characters: Phil and Stan. While Phil was a happy-go-lucky guy and a great father, Stan was the guy that everyone avoided as things went haywire when he was around.
Sia is shy and withdrawn. Her presence in the music industry started in the background, then in a band and afterwards with a move to go solo. The fame and publicity that came from her writing a couple of great hits became too much for her. She ended up getting addicted to drugs and alcohol. She considered suicide, but a phone call from a friend persuaded her to go to rehab instead. Her sabbatical away from the spotlight was largely attributed to the addiction and the need for recovery. Sia is open about her fear of fame and is wary that if she allowed it back into her life it would lead her down a dark path.