ORIGINAL Oil Pastel Works where made on the wall my room at the Hotel Kennedy in Nandi, Fiji
Born in London in 1951
Sheila ‘The G-La’ Giles: That’s me-La, Singer Poet and Painter turned Songwriter, Producer, Mix, iMac, Adobe & XP10 Dabbler, that’s the way of it. People also say I’ve a sultry voice that stirs memory & conscience, (I trust).
To tell you about myself, or so it seems to me, is to tell you about the life of many an Artist, Musician or Person endeavouring to live their life true to themselves.
I grew up in London’s West End in the international atmosphere of my Mother’s B&B. Where I met people from all over the World and every walk of life. Mummy was born in Kerry and Dad in London.
I wrote Poetry from my early teens. Sister Columbarnus encouraged me not only to write Poetry but to actually write at all. It was much later in my life while in an ear training Class at Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA, it became plain I was Dyslexic. Although I could Sing correctly all that I heard I would write the notation in reverse, frustrating but a relief to know. I did very well at Arranging Music. I am very grateful to that dear Lady and her enabling.
My Musical influences are rangy and eclectic. I was very lucky to be born into a time when the World was opening up. As a kid in the 50/60’s I was influenced by my Parents Record Collection. Every Person, from Paul Robeson, Maria Callas, Harry Belafonte, Eartha Kit, Mario Lanza, Elvis, the Beatles, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding and Nina Simone. My older brother Paul, brought Nina's Records home when I was still in Primary School. I swallowed her music whole and sing it to this day. Nina Simone was the lady who Showed me that Passion and Deep Feeling are MORE than a Legitimate Expression, but an Education and Opening of the Soul. So Love you Nina, Bless YOU....xxxx
1979 In London I met Curtis Lugay through a guy called Johnny who I’d had met through Musician friends I still knew from my Iroko Country Club days. Curtis and I got together and ‘Inch by Inch’ evolved out of Curtis, his brother David and there Friends. Cutis, David and I co-wrote ‘If its Magic’.
In 1980 my Mother, supportively put up the money so we could Professionally Record and Release ‘If Its Magic’ and the ‘B’ Side ‘War’s not Inevitable’ an upbeat Ska original written by Flavio Monaco, Curtis Lugay and myself. We Produced both tracks with Mark Lusardi at his, Mark Angelo Studio in London.
I had a previously Registered Company Called ‘Blue of London’ so Curtis and i decided to use it as our label to Launch ‘Inch by Inch’. We made all the the Artwork ourselves and hired a professional photographer, Vernon St Hilair to photograph us as a band. The one person missing in the photos was our Amazing Drummer ‘Johann James’, who couldn’t make it to the Photo Shoot.
We had some encouraging reviews from 'Black Echos' 'NME' and 'Blues and Soul'. Unfortunately Inch By Inch imploded before reaching our potential. Curtis and I did go on to write and Record 2 more Tracks ‘Always Too Late’ and ‘Howling Winds’.
After the sudden death of a very lovely friend, Afua, my Mother arranged for me to visit a friend of hers in Grenada in the West Indies. I stayed for 1 month and quickly found a place of my own to stay realising the Class Division. There had been a largely peaceful take over of the Island by the Population. It was a dreadful thing when several months after I returned to London the USA decided to Bomb this peaceful island who’s people were only trying to come out from under the yoke of the British Empire, who at the time took 1/6 of their Banana and Spice Crop. The USA were afraid that Russia would help Grenada to expand their Airport for 'tourism.'
1981 Again with the financial help from my Mother, I moved to Boston, USA, to study Music at Berklee College of Music. It was here that I realised I was mildly dyslexic, thanks to Sister Columbarnus enabling me all those years ago, It had not disabled me the way it might have. I was also able to Remix ‘War’s Not Inevitable’ in Down Town Studios with Suzy, a Bass player also at Berklee and my Flat mate.
I Recorded in Berklee's Studios with Shohei Narabi from Japan and Eric Lopin from France. The Song was ‘Ride your Horses’ which we Co-wrote.
Although I did perform in several Shows, the high (and low) point was a performance at The Berklee Concert Hall, where I sang, Joni Mitchel’s ‘Good Bye Pork Pie Hat’ with a 25 piece orchestra. A first for me and with very little rehearsal. Its a Song and Album I truly love from the breakthrough ‘Mitchell Mingus ‘.
Towards the end of my 2nd Year at Berklee money ran out. Although I had for some time been making and selling Muffins and Pasta Salads to help support myself, I was unable to keep going and had to leave before completing my Degree in Music. Great Experience though.
1983/84 I moved to New York to stay with my childhood friend, Shelley Souza who via her Step Mother introduced me to Joseph S. Lewis, a man about the Musical New York City scene. Together we set up LoveLaw International Incorporated, Music Publishing, ASCAP
Shelley’s Mother, Maria Souza, had been a tremendously positive influence on me Growing up. Maria, by her example and active encouragement opened many talents in me. I will always be very grateful to her for taking me under her wing over the years.
In New York I learned about the long running battle between ASCAP and the Radio/Music Industry who were Lobbying their Government to Legislate/legalise a “buy out” system of one off payments to Composers and Song Writers. It is an issue that continues to raise its head even today. I did my bit to support the fight against such a one sided deal, writing to Senators etc and Speaking when ever requested to on the subject.
Out of the Blue I was asked to do a couple of Fashion Shoot Modeling Hats, I also wrote a lot of Poems and Songs and added to my Photographic and Musical Portfolio. My Business Partner, Joe Lewis, tried to presenting me to an Agent ‘friend’ of his as the new Peggy Lee. He was out of the Country at the time. It later came into my Life as the Manager of ‘The New Kids on the Block’.
Also while Setting up our new Music Publishing Company, I Sang and continued to learn about using my own Voice at ‘The Jazz Front Music Store’ and with ‘The Joy of Music’ . I co-wrote and co-produced a track with Marshall Jones ‘To The Top’. This time not the Lyrics but the Music and Arrangement. We recorded in what I remember as a Basement flat in Harlem or Queens and our Engineer was Larry Peoples.
Alas, another detour struck! It came to light when I applied to change my Visa from Student to Business that it was not possible. So with a heavy heart I had to Pack up and move back to London, again a parting of the ways after putting in a lot of work.
On my Return to London I set up again. Menu Records & Tapes was born wth the encouragement of great guy at PRS. I continue with it today as ‘Menu Records’ with my own music
In its hay day Menu Records Artists Included:
The Vertical Invaders, Mark O’Brien a talented Song Writer with a Strangely Mersey Indie-Rock Sound. 1988 Released 7” Vinyl: A ‘Tomorrow’ B ’War against dust’
Eddie Webber, A charismatic and energetic Singer Song Writer of a London Ska Band, who decided his future lay in acting, which he worked hard to achieve. I have seen him on TV several times over the years.
Tom Pirozzoli. Voted a Top 10 best New Comer in the USA by Elvis Costello and Mark Knopfler, T Bone Burnet and Mitchell Froom. Tom had sent his Music to me I liked it and we agreed a license for his Album ‘Eyes and Footprints', also releasing a 7” Single of A ‘Eyes and Footprints’ B ‘Every Minute Every Second’.
In September 1989 I arranged a tour for Tom the ‘Live and Sensitive’ tour. London, Galway and Belfast, Southern and Northern Ireland. Also a Troubadour festival in the West Indies on his way home to the USA. he was as predicted well received.
Michael Raye, who I met through my Music Publishing Partner, Joseph S. Lewis, was an accomplished Composer and Arranger and was working with - Will Downing, Gloria Gaynor, Denice Williams and Richie Havens. He was also applauded for his “Gorgeous Scores” by ‘Dance Magazine’ and the Chicago Tribune.
Michael and I Co-Produced the whole project, Recording and making a Video.
‘No Love Intended’ and ‘Black and White’ (recorded and Green Streets Studio, NYC) where released on my Label ‘Menu Records’. The Video ‘No love Intended’ was never released.
At the time I hired ‘International Radio Promotions' who were doing a great job for us all. Both Michael Raye and the Vertical Invaiders were charting in local Radio in France and Australia.
Michael was ‘Blues and Soul’s’ “Single of the Week” and described by them under their “Headliners’” Banner “ as “Grace, polish and near perfection”. This was just some of the Pre-release response..
Also released on 7” Vinyl were A ‘Always Too late’ and B ‘Howling Winds’ on Menu Records. ‘Always Too Late’ inspired quite a bit of Live & direct interviews & Airplay including French Radio live from 'Midem', the Music Industries annual ‘Fair’ in France also from Earls Court with BBC's Sony Award winning DJ Ezeke Grey, GLR's Rankin Miss'P, Mary Costello.
In an interview on GLR when DJ, Reggae Queen Miss ‘P’ asked me,“what was the difference between” me and “your usual Lovers Rocker” At first I had no idea what she was referring to, finally the Penny dropped and replied in Spanish about being milk without Coffee. Of course there is a lot of Coffee in my Music and Artwork.
Another Great Complement made to me was by another DJ, 'Ezeke Grey', when he played one of my songs in the midst of a Bob Marley Medley.
Ezeke also introduce me to 'Neil Frazer AKA The Mad Professor'. We got to work and made some Tasty Dub and Ragamuffin versions together. I re-released these Re-Mix Versions on 12” Vinyl Distributed by ‘Jet Star’
I had also managed to attract an ‘Angel’, as we used to refer to an investor, waiting in the wings, while I tied everything up. The promotion and advertising Campaign was in place. I was about to sign with a company to take on the management of the advertising campaign. What could go wrong.....
Unfortunately just as my Investment and Promotion was taking effect in the UK, Europe and Australia Michael Raye got it into his head to Play me off against the New Kids on the Block Management, who tried to sell me a share in the Album project previously verbally agreed with Michael, to follow up the Single and Video Release we had both signed up for and Invested in.
Their derisory offer was for a short term agreement and financially absurd. I had no alternative but to say no and it went the way of many a good project.
Things were going well until Michael Raye's Power Play. I lost the ‘Promised Album’ and lost me the Investor. Gradually the whole delicate pack of cards collapsed and all the work began to disintegrate and within months the Banks were rattling my cage.
To save our Home I went to work Temping as a Receptionist for an agency. Luckily I was sent along to the CBI ( The Confederation of British Industry) to help them Promote The Launch of their ‘Initiative Eastern Europe’. Promotion now a second nature to me I did quite well and was kept on to continue to promote their Conference and a Magazine supplement to their CBI News Magazine which included selling advertising to their Members.
I tried to continue with The Music Publishing side to Menu Records, A Plum Music Publishing. Another talented Pop Song writer I represented, Michael Styli. I was certain he would do well in the Eurovision song contest. I sent the Application and Fees in twice. Once by Post with a cheque and then urgently by hand with cash. On following the application up, again it hadn’t arrived. It came to light that my so called boyfriend never posted or delivered either and had spent the cash on drink!
Sorry to say after this I felt I could not do my Writers Justice so I had sadly to ask them all if they would agree to release me from our Agreements.
After my 3 years at the CBI I was let go suddenly so suddenly many people including myself were shocked as I had brought in £80,000 to the CBI Initiative Eastern and unquantified amounts to other departments, including the televised CBI Conference.
The loss of this Income subsequently led to the loss of my Mother and my home due to my being unable to recover myself, find permanent work and keep up with the Bank repayments on my debts. They call it the 1980/90's Economic Downturn. Many many people Lost their Jobs, Business and Homes. It is well documented that People were handing back keys, as they say, at a so called "unprecedented rate". It later was made Illegal for a Bank to "Introduce' their Debtors to Mortgage companies to get debts off their Books. Too late for thousands of us and now possibility of claiming compensation in Retrospect. Of Course Now the Banks sell off Mortgages/Debts Wholesale to what we now call "Vulture Funds"
Still not feeling able to return to London I travelled to Dublin then to Killarney in Kerry then back to London. After some time living in the void of sleeping Friends Floors and on my Mothers Couch, another friend of mine lent me some money so I could return to Dublin and try to get back on my feet.
I returned fully intending to work and to somehow Record my Album. ‘Don’t wait ‘till someday’, in my Mother’s homeland. As it turned out, I learned even more about homelessness then any person should.
Before the onset of Homelessness I was able to organise 2 exhibitions of my Artwork the first at The Globe in Georges Street in Dublin, where I had a wonderful time at the Launch with a great band that had come together to help me. We didn’t have long but we did stir up the place, great percussion.
Also I sold the Largest artwork I had ever made 'Dreams Of Lasting Peace' a Tribute to the African Descendants of People brought there by Slave Traders to work on Plantations. A Funeral Scene and the dead young man chest is a book open on the words of ‘WAR’ a prophetic song written by Allen Cole and Carlton Barrett, sung with all his mite by Bob Marley.
This 6 foot by 5 foot work of Art was not only bought by a Professor of Literature, but he wrote books on Emancipation and Slavery and to add to this 3 weeks before coming to Dublin he had stood in the Studio of another dear friend and Artists Balraj khanna. ‘Dreams of Lasting Peace’ now resides on in his house in Seattle Washington, where he was then a teaching Professor. I was thrilled, not only did he understand my Artwork and pay me, but he spent a lot of money to ship my work all that way as well.
“Dreams Of Lasting Peace” I have no complete Photo of the this work a it is so large 6ft x 5ft. I have edited 2 Photos as best could. Photographed in our home in London before we left.
SOLD and now in Seattle, Washington, USA.
Within a few months however, I was again to find myself homeless, this time through an illegal eviction. This time I had a break down, but as I walked about Dublin 2 wonderful songs came upon me. ‘You Too’ and ‘Lonely Times’ describing what it is to be Homeless from what I and the People with me experienced
Also I managed to write a proposal for RTE in response to an advert in the Irish Times looking for Production Proposals. I wrote the project in a wonderful Computer Cafe near Parliament Street, Dublin. I will always Cherish the Kindness and help of the owner, Martin. I also got pretty good at on-line computer games.....!
The Proposal was to be a Fly on the wall Documentary of the Wonderful Band ‘Kila’, Loads of work getting it to the point all the Band on Board. Once again, this project went south due to Shifty Power Play behind the scenes. Not by Kila, who I greatly respect, but others who tried to stupidly claim the project as their own. All I could do at the late stage was to alert 'Kila' and RTE of the Nonsense.
About 18 months from the start of this sojourn into Homelessness mercifully and thanks to the Homeless department at Dublin City Council I was offered a Flat. As soon as I possibly could I joined a ‘Fresh Start Course’ which in turn led me to Roslyn Park Disabled College (which by this time I was. I have never recovered from Breaking which had unleashed depression and agoraphobia in me. I doubt that many people ever really do get over the effect of Homelessness)
At Roslyn Park I was able to study Multimedia. Which enabled me to bring together my various experiences and talents. Hallelujah, as the song goes. I now can make my own Videos.....
'LONELY TIMES' and 'YOU TOO'
Dedicated to ALL who find themselves Homeless
I have to complete, the best I can, the ideas that come to me, as soon as I could I gathered some Musicians and bit by bit took them into a recording studio to lay down some tracks and made a start. I great and creative Bass Player, Erin Achenbach and a very talented Banjo Player, Pat O'Reilly came to help me make a track I had been working on for some time on my 4 track (or was it 2 track) Cassette players as I did with a few of my tracks in those days.
Originally a poem I wrote in the in the 70's 'Our Own Understanding'. I wrote it after a debate with a friend about Communism, my view being that all the great ideas were vulnerable to being twisted and used against People in the hands of such a Stalin and the like. The World at War, Battle fields are images that stay with me in the Poem, which is now AKA 'A Man of Many Sorrows'
I was so lucky to meet the very talented 'Andy Baron' of ‘The Seven Deadly Skins’. I gave him my rough demo of my Song ‘The Snake Edged Table’. A Remarkable Musician, he interpreted my demo and came to the Studio and played all the instruments for the song. We recorded it in his friends Studio in the Ballymun Flats, in Dublin. In the darkness of the night overlooking Ballymun Andrew Played his Whistle with such poignancy I had to support myself on the wall of the Studio as my heart broke open.
I had all my ADAT and Cassette work transferred to Wav Files so I could take them home and work on my Music as best I could.
For ‘Lonely Times’ The DJ 'Karl Heinz’ helped make the Dance tracks by giving me a few sound Samples he made. Karl also Played ‘Lonely Times’ at his Club Dj Sets. I heard, it was called the “Thinking Dancers Dub”.
I released the home made, 4 different Mixes (Using Erin's Bass from the version above) of ‘Lonely Times’ EP CD on my label, MENU Records.
To my surprise one critic really got. ”Yes! Yes! Mix and blend! Let me see the punani! Wet till the weekend! Cut it, mix it, mash it up! Batty Freak pussie clot! Man fi dead fa less dan dat. See' in! Respec! Sheila G-La and Heinz, 'Lonely Times' on Menu” OVERSTALL 69% - Mongrel Magazine.
I do have quite a lot of people on FaceBook, Reverbnation, Youtube and Soundcloud with some really nice Comments from fellow Musicians and Indie Music and Art appreciators. (Please see my reviews page)
There is so much that I have left out when writing this Bio. I have Credited Musicians and Co-Writers/Composers where appropriate and done my best to pay them along the way and Protect our Rights with IMRO and MCPS.
You know who you are and I love you for all your work.....xxx
I met my Husband, Colm Mullen, at Roslyn Park College. He Says he “Chased me till I caught him” and I say “I thought he like Coffee”. You can see us and other Loved up Couples in the RTE Documentary ' In and Out in Half an Hour' Produced and Made by David Whelan.
We have stability together which has enabled me to build Sheila Giles Multi Media. Bless you Mr Mullen for Being here....xxxx
Many times I am asked why don’t write a book. BUT where would I find a Publisher who is Professional, Honourable and willing to take a risk......?
Hahahahaa Life as an Indie Artist a !
Remix ‘War’s Not Inevitable’ in Down Town Studios with Suzy an I adding Backing Vocals
5ft x 4ft. 'I' of Island Son....
Made in London before the loss of our Home
THIS ORIGINAL WORK IS FOR SALE
The day after we moved out of our Home os 30 years, I travelled to Australia curtesy of 2 very good friends while my Mother, bless her went to stay with her Sister until she was able to find her own home with the money from the sale.
Mummy did eventually find a House, with the help of my Brother, but by the time she did her so called retirement years were ruined. Years of Work and Paying Taxes, she succumbed to Dementia and died in a council home. My Brother did his very best to look after her.
If you are wondering where was I......my homelessness led me down a different path.......
On the Way back from Australia I dropped in to Fiji for an actual rest break for a week on the Beachcomber Island. A beautiful Place off Fiji's Coast. The Blue of the Sea and Sky was so blue all I could do was cry.
The Night before I was to Return to London I realised that I was terrified at the prospect of returning to no Home, no Job. After much soul searching that evening it occurred to me that with the little money I had I could stay on in Fiji for awhile and maybe get lucky and be able to work and find a place to settle in the short term.
The next day after asking about, I moved into the Hotel Kennedy, Nandi. I set about putting myself back together once again. There was a old work out room in the Hotel, which was great I could get active and would have a great time quietly working out.
I Immediately met musicians walking down the main Street in Nandi and began to find my way to sing.....
My life is so full of twists and turns. The events in Fiji were interesting, the most productive being that I made a Series of Picture in Oil Pastel directly influenced by the Island.
I moved back to Ireland fully intending to make an Album 'Don't Wait 'till Someday' which morphed into 'The Snakes Edged Table' Released on MENU RECORDS My CD is Available for 15 euro + Post and Packing
JULY 2017 WONDERFUL ANNOUNCEMENT
In October 2017 almost a full circle....The 1980 12 Inch Vinyl of ’If It’s Magic’ by our Band ‘Inch by Inch’
will be Re-released on a Compilation Honouring 6 Original Brit-Funk Bands. Available on Vinyl and Digital.
The Album Title: IN THE RED (a title not wasted me and my Indie Compatriots, we all pushed it into the red zone)
The Label: Chuwanaga (Maxence Rawbiney & Elliot Bernard)
The Distributer: The Pusher Distribution (Pascal Rioux)
Release Date: October/November 2017
My Fellow Track Buddies:
Band: Potion Title: Catch That Feeling
Band: Equa Title: In The Red
Band: Congress Title: Something that You Got, Real Hot
Band: Index Title: Starlight, The Break
Band: Spookey Title: Friends
Band: Inch by Inch Title: If It’s Magic, we don't want it
JARI VILL another Wonderful Musician, Composer and Photo Artist came into my life. I was Listening to a Instrumental Track he'd made "One Trick Pony'. It inspired lyrics in me and I Arranged it into 'Christmas Day'. I also made a Video for it.
Colm takes me too the nicest places to drink Coffee
In my early teens I used to sneak out to a room upstairs in a Pub in Tottenham Court Road to listen to Records by Otis Reading and other Soul Greats and Dance, much to the annoyance of my Parents who worried I was up to all sorts, but I wasn’t, just totally bonded with music.
Later years brought other Greats Earth Wind and Fire, Santana, Lots of Ska and Reggae, Dollar Brand, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, Toots and The Maytels, Frank Zappa, and Miles Davis, Coltrane, Charlie Mingus. The list is so long So don’t expect one style of Music from me.
By the time I was Seventeen I had attached myself to a Club in Hampstead, The Iroko Country Club and Danced the night away to wonderful Nigerian and other marvellous Music from Africa, here I was protected for the meat markets of the Disco Clubs at the time, I could just dance and dance with no one to bother me. I celebrated my Eighteenth Birthday there with my Mother Dancing along side me.
I did Love Disco, as I do Dance trax today, but found the only clubs I really could relax without being chatted up by guys trying to ply me with drinks, where, apart from the Iroko, were Gay Clubs...some good Dancing to be had YES..
I also Studied Art for a couple of years at Sir John Cass Art School, Whitechapel. Here a took the GCE 'A' and passed with a grade 1. Years later while sitting next to some English guys in a New York Cafe, I overheard them talking about how they Marked GCE Art Exam material. One said to the other, "Oh I throw them all in the middle of the floor go to the pub, come back and say that one, that one and that one". These were the days of 'quotas' when only a certain number of pupils were allowed to pass. I rounded on these two teachers and told them how much this behaviour effects the Confidence and Choices of Pupils. I took the 'O' Level 3 times and to the astonishment of my all teachers did not even get a grade!
In the early 70’s I lived in Valencia in Spain for a number of years overseeing the building and setting up a Restaurant and Club House on behalf of my Mother. I found Real Flamenco to add to my musical wonders. I had also lived in a Ibiza for a few months, the Clubs were good and I danced, but they were nowhere like they are now. I also learned that some so called business people are corrupt.