Biography, Albums, Early Life Of Singer Sia
Here is the complete biography, albums, early life of famous singer Sia.
Sia Kate Isobelle Furler (/ˈsiːə/ SEE-ə; born 18 December 1975) is an Australian singer and songwriter. Born and raised in Adelaide, she started her career as a singer in the acid jazz band Crisp in the mid-1990s. When Crisp disbanded in 1997, she released her debut studio album, OnlySee, in Australia. She moved to London and provided vocals for the British duo Zero 7. Sia released her second studio album, Healing Is Difficult, in 2001, and her third, Colour the Small One, in 2004.
Sia moved to New York City in 2005 and toured the United States. Her fourth and fifth studio albums, Some People Have Real Problems and We Are Born, were released in 2008 and 2010 respectively, and both were certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association and attracted wider notice than her earlier albums. Uncomfortable with her growing fame, Sia took a hiatus from performing and focused on songwriting for other artists, producing successful collaborations “Titanium” (with David Guetta), “Diamonds” (with Rihanna) and “Wild Ones” (with Flo Rida).
In 2014, Sia broke through as a solo recording artist when her sixth studio album, 1000 Forms of Fear, debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. Billboard 200 and generated the top-ten single “Chandelier” and a trilogy of music videos co-directed by Sia and starring child dancer Maddie Ziegler. Since then, Sia has usually worn a wig that obscures her face to protect her privacy. Her seventh studio album, This Is Acting (2016), spawned her first Billboard Hot 100 number one single, “Cheap Thrills”. That year she also began her Nostalgic for the Present Tour, which incorporated dancing by Ziegler and others, and other performance art elements. Her eighth studio album, Everyday Is Christmas, was released in 2017 and reissued in 2018 with three bonus tracks. In 2018, she collaborated with Labrinth and Diplo in the group LSD, and they released their self-titled debut album in April 2019. Sia has written many songs for films, and she directed a feature film, titled Music, which was released in early 2021 alongside an album, Music – Songs from and Inspired by the Motion Picture.
She is an advocate for animal rights. Among the accolades received by Sia are nearly a dozen ARIA Awards, nine Grammy Award nominations and an MTV Video Music Award.
Early life and education
Sia Kate Isobelle Furler was born on 18 December 1975 in Adelaide, South Australia. Her father, Phil Colson, is a musician, and her mother, Loene Furler, is an art lecturer. She is the niece of actor Kevin Colson. She said that as a child she imitated the performing style of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Sting, whom she cites as early influences. She attended Adelaide High School.
In the mid-1990s, Sia started a career as a singer in the local acid jazz band Crisp. Sia collaborated with the band and contributed vocals to their album Word and the Deal (1996) and EP Delirium (1997). In 1997 Crisp disbanded, and Sia released her debut studio album, OnlySee, on Flavoured Records, in Australia, on 23 December. The album sold about 1,200 copies. Unlike her later albums, OnlySee was marketed under her full name, “Sia Furler”. It was produced by Jesse Flavell.
1997–2006: Zero 7, Healing Is Difficult and Colour the Small One
After Crisp disbanded in 1997, Sia moved to London, where she performed as a background vocalist for British band Jamiroquai. She also provided vocals for English downtempo group Zero 7 on their first three studio albums and toured with the group. On Zero 7’s 2001 album Simple Things, Sia contributed vocals to two tracks including the single “Destiny”, which peaked at No. 30 on the UK Singles Chart. In 2004, she provided vocals for Zero 7 on “Somersault” and “Speed Dial No. 2” (from the album When It Falls). In 2006, Sia collaborated with Zero 7 for their third album, The Garden.
In 2000, Sia signed a recording contract with Sony Music’s sub-label Dance Pool and released her first single, “Taken for Granted”, which peaked at No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart. In 2001, she released her second solo album, Healing Is Difficult, which blends retro jazz and soul music and lyrically discusses Sia’s dealing with the death of her first love affair. Displeased with the promotion of the album, Sia fired her manager, left Sony Music and signed with Go! Beat, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group (UMG). At the APRA Awards of 2002, Sia won the Breakthrough Songwriter category alongside Brisbane pop duo Aneiki’s Jennifer Waite and Grant Wallis.
In 2004, Sia released her third studio album, Colour the Small One. The album employs a mixture of acoustic instruments and electronic backing to her material. The album spawned four singles, including “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “Breathe Me”, the latter of which charted in the United Kingdom, Denmark and France.
Dissatisfied with Colour the Small One’s poor marketing and the album’s struggle to connect with a mainstream audience, Sia relocated to New York City in 2005. During that time, “Breathe Me” appeared in the final scene of the U.S. HBO television series Six Feet Under, which helped increase Sia’s fame in the United States. Consequently, Sia’s manager, David Enthoven, set up a tour across the country to maintain her career.
2007–2010: Some People Have Real Problems and We Are Born
In 2007, Sia released a live album, Lady Croissant, which included eight live songs from her April 2006 performance at the Bowery Ballroom in New York and one new studio recording—”Pictures”. A year later, she left Zero 7 on friendly terms, replaced by Eska Mtungwazi as the band’s frontwoman. Sia released her fourth studio album, Some People Have Real Problems on 8 January 2008. The album peaked at No. 41 in Australia and was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association. It charted at No. 26 on the US Billboard 200, becoming Sia’s first to chart in the United States. Some People Have Real Problems yielded four singles, including “The Girl You Lost to Cocaine”. It peaked at No. 11 in the Netherlands and No. 12 in Spain; it additionally reached No. 8 on the US Hot Dance Club Songs. Another single from the album was “Soon We’ll Be Found”.
In May 2009, Sia released TV Is My Parent on DVD, which includes a live concert at New York’s Hiro Ballroom, four music videos and behind-the-scene footage. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2009, Sia won the Best Music DVD category for TV Is My Parent. She also received a nomination for Best Breakthrough Artist Album for Some People Have Real Problems.
In 2009, American singer Christina Aguilera approached Sia about writing ballads for Aguilera’s sixth studio album. The final product, Bionic, includes four songs co-written by Sia. Later in 2010, Sia also co-wrote “Bound to You” for the soundtrack of the film Burlesque, which starred Aguilera and Cher. The song was nominated for Best Original Song at the 68th Golden Globe Awards. In May 2011, Sia appeared on the inaugural season of the U.S. version of The Voice as an adviser for Aguilera, who served as a vocal coach and judge.
In June 2010, Sia released her fifth studio album, We Are Born. The release peaked at No. 2 on the ARIA Albums Chart and was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association. The release of the album was preceded by three singles: the lead single, “You’ve Changed”, was released in December 2009 and charted at No. 31 in Australia. The follow-up single, “Clap Your Hands”, peaked at No. 17 in Australia, No. 10 in the Netherlands and No. 27 in Switzerland. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2010, We Are Born earned Sia two categories won: Best Independent Release and Best Pop Release. Meanwhile, at the 2011 APRA Music Awards, Sia received a nomination for Song of the Year for “Clap Your Hands”. To promote We Are Born, Sia gave the We Meaning You Tour, which visited North America and Europe in April–May 2010. She followed this with the We Are Born Tour, which visited Australia in February 2011 and North America in July–August 2011.
2010–2013: Songwriting career and mainstream recognition
Following the success of We Are Born, Sia became uncomfortable with her growing fame. She later told The New York Times: “I just wanted to have a private life. Once, as my friend was telling me they had cancer, someone came up and asked, in the middle of the conversation, if they could take a photograph with me. You get me? That’s enough, right?” She refused to do promos for her tours, began to wear a mask on stage and became increasingly dependent on drugs and alcohol on the road; she considered suicide. Sia fired Enthoven and hired Jonathan Daniel, who suggested that she write songs for other artists.
Sia retired as a recording artist and began a career as a songwriter. She soon penned “Titanium” for American singer Alicia Keys, but it was later sent to David Guetta, who included Sia’s original demo vocals on the song and released it as a single in 2011. “Titanium” peaked within the top ten of record charts in the United States, Australia and numerous European regions. However, Sia recalled: “I never even knew it was gonna happen, and I was really upset. Because I had just retired, I was trying to be a pop songwriter, not an artist.”
From 2011 to 2013, Sia also co-wrote songs for many recording artists, including Beyoncé, Kylie Minogue, Flo Rida and Rihanna. Her collaboration with Flo Rida, “Wild Ones”, peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the tenth best-selling song of 2012 globally. In March 2012, Sia released a greatest hits album, Best Of…, in Australia.
2013–2014: Breakthrough with 1000 Forms of Fear
In October 2013, Sia released “Elastic Heart” featuring The Weeknd and Diplo for the soundtrack of the American film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013). Sia executive-produced Brooke Candy’s debut EP, Opulence, released in May 2014, and co-wrote 3 songs on the EP. In July 2014, Sia released her own sixth studio album, 1000 Forms of Fear. She again collaborated with Greg Kurstin. The album debuted at No. 1 in the US Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 52,000 copies. By October 2015, it was certified gold by the RIAA denoting 500,000 equivalent-album units sold in the United States. The record peaked at No. 1 in Australia and reached the top ten of charts in numerous European regions. It was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry and gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association. By early 2016, the album had sold 1 million copies worldwide.
1000 Forms of Fear’s lead single, “Chandelier” was released in March 2014. The song peaked at No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Sia’s first entry on that chart as a lead artist. Elsewhere, the song experienced similar commercial success, ranking in the top ten of the record charts in Australia and numerous European regions. As of January 2015, the single had sold 2 million copies in the United States. “Eye of the Needle” and “Big Girls Cry” were released as the second and third singles from the album, respectively, in June 2014. In January 2015, Sia released a solo version of “Elastic Heart” as the fourth single from 1000 Forms of Fear; it eventually reached the top 20 on the Hot 100. At the 57th Annual Grammy Awards (2015), Sia received four nominations for “Chandelier”: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Music Video.
For performances of songs from 1000 Forms of Fear, Sia chose not to show her face, either facing away from audiences or hiding it behind oversized platinum blonde wigs. In videos for the singles “Chandelier”, “Elastic Heart” and “Big Girls Cry”, choreographed by Ryan Heffington and co-directed by Sia and Daniel Askill, and in many of the promotional live performances, child dancer Maddie Ziegler performed as a proxy for Sia in bobbed blonde wigs similar to Sia’s familiar hairstyle. The three videos have received a total of more than 4 billion views on Vevo. Sia explained to Kristen Wiig in an interview in Interview magazine that she decided to conceal her face to avoid a celebrity lifestyle and maintain some privacy: “I’m trying to have some control over my image. And I’m allowed to maintain some modicum of privacy. But also I would like not to be picked apart or for people to observe when I put on ten pounds or take off ten pounds or I have a hair extension out of place or my fake tan is botched. Most people don’t have to be under that pressure, and I’d like to be one of them.” The video for Elastic Heart “courted controversy and plaudits in equal measure”, with some commentators perceiving it to have paedophilic undertones due to the relative ages of the dancers. Sia explained that the two dancers represented “warring ‘Sia’ self states”, but she nevertheless apologised on Twitter to anyone who was “triggered”. Gia Kourlas wrote in The New York Times in 2016 that Sia’s collaborations with Heffington have “done more to raise the standards of dance in pop music than nearly any current artist integrating the forms”. The “Chandelier” video was ranked as the 10th “greatest music video” of the 2010s by Billboard.
In 2014, Sia contributed to the soundtrack to the 2014 film adaptation of the Broadway musical Annie. Sia, along with producer Greg Kurstin, wrote three new songs for the film as well as re-working songs from the musical. Sia, Kurstin and the film’s director Will Gluck were nominated for Best Original Song at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards for “Opportunity”.
In an interview with NME in February 2015, Sia revealed that she had completed the follow-up to 1000 Forms of Fear, entitled This Is Acting. The album was another collaboration with producer and co-writer Greg Kurstin. Furler said that she released 1000 Forms of Fear to free herself from her record deal and had planned simply to write for other artists, but the album’s success spurred her to continue writing her own music. The same month, alongside the digital deluxe release of 1000 Forms of Fear, she released a mobile game, Bob Job. “Alive” from This Is Acting was co-written by Adele and had originally been intended for Adele’s third album.
In November, Sia collaborated with composer J. Ralph on the soundtrack of the environmental documentary Racing Extinction, co-writing and singing the song “One Candle”. She also released two more songs from the album, “Bird Set Free” and “One Million Bullets”. “Cheap Thrills” and “Reaper” were subsequently released as promotional singles for the album. Eventually, the single “Cheap Thrills”, featuring Sean Paul, reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Sia released two videos for the song, one of which features Ziegler and two male dancers, while the other, featuring Sean Paul, shows a 1950s style teen dance party; it has accumulated more than 1.7 billion views.
In April 2016, Sia gave a widely acclaimed performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival that went viral online. Her performance received an effusively positive critical reception as “one of the greatest moments in Coachella’s 17-year history”, and it was consistently called one of the best performances of the 2016 festival. The performance was her first full concert since 2011. In May 2016, Sia made a surprise appearance on the finale for Survivor: Kaôh Rōng where she donated $50,000 to contestant Tai Trang. She donated another $50,000 to an animal charity of his choice, noting that the two share a mutual love of animals.
In June 2016, Sia gave a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, featuring Ziegler. From May to August, Sia performed in nearly a dozen festival and other concerts in America and European and Middle Eastern countries, including Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Romania, Poland, the United Kingdom, Russia, Lebanon and Israel. In September 2016, she released a single, “The Greatest”, with vocals from American hip hop recording artist Kendrick Lamar. A video was released the same day featuring Ziegler – the dancer’s fifth video collaboration with Sia and Heffington. The two performed the song with several other dancers, and also performed “Chandelier”, live the next day at the Apple annual fall event, drawing media attention. The videos that Sia has posted to her YouTube channel have accumulated a total of more than 12 billion views, and the channel has more than 22 million subscribers.
Sia gave her Nostalgic for the Present Tour in North America from September to November 2016, featuring Ziegler. As at Coachella and subsequent live performances, Sia appeared at the back of the stage with her familiar wig covering her face, while her dancers performed Heffington’s choreography synchronised with pre-recorded videos played on big screens. The tour received a warm reaction: “She let her dancers own center stage, carrying out one skit/performance after another as Sia delivered the soundtrack. … It defied all the regular rules of pop concerts, which are usually designed to focus every ounce of the audience’s attention on the star of the show. Yet, Sia’s bold gamble paid off, resulting in one of the most daringly original and wholly satisfying shows of 2016.” Ed Masley of The Arizona Republic described the show as “part performance art, part interpretive dance. … [Sia] sounded amazing. … There’s so much raw emotion in her songs. And you can definitely hear that in her voice, but it becomes more visceral when you can also read it in the faces of her dancers, especially Ziegler. … The entire performance was brilliantly staged, with one song flowing seamlessly into another”. Sia released the deluxe edition of This Is Acting in October 2016, which includes three new tracks, a remix version of “Move Your Body” and a solo version of “The Greatest”. She was nominated for three 2017 Grammy Awards. Sia co-wrote and performed on a platinum-selling single, “Dusk Till Dawn”, by Zayn.
Sia performed in concert at the close of the Dubai World Cup in March 2017, together with her dancers, led by Ziegler. They gave a second leg of the Nostalgic for the Present Tour, her first stadium tour in Australasia, in late 2017.
2017–present: Everyday Is Christmas, LSD and Music
In 2017, Sia moved from RCA to Atlantic Records. She released the album Everyday Is Christmas on Atlantic and Monkey Puzzle in November 2017. The album features original songs co-written and co-produced with Kurstin. She promoted it by releasing the single “Santa’s Coming for Us” and the track “Snowman”, which she performed during the finale of the 13th season of The Voice and on The Ellen DeGeneres Show together with Maddie Ziegler. In November 2018, Sia released the deluxe edition of the album, containing three bonus tracks, as a Target exclusive.
In 2018, Sia collaborated with English musician Labrinth and American DJ/record producer Diplo, under the name LSD, to release four songs, which were then released as an EP called Mountains on Spotify. The group released an album, Labrinth, Sia & Diplo Present… LSD, in April 2019, containing the same four songs, five new songs and a previously released remix of their track “Genius” with Lil Wayne. Also in 2018, Sia was one of the narrators of Australian animal rights documentary Dominion, and shared in a 2018 Award of Excellence from the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards.
Sia’s ninth album, Music – Songs from and Inspired by the Motion Picture, was released in February 2021 in connection with the release of her film, Music. She announced via social media that she has finished her tenth album, which is slated for a 2023 release.
Artistry and musical style
At the start of her career, with the band Crisp, Sia performed acid jazz in Australia and later in London. With her first solo single, “Taken for Granted”, she experimented with trip hop. When she joined Zero 7, she sang downtempo numbers.
With Colour the Small One (2004) and Some People Have Real Problems (2007) she moved into jazz and folktronica, although the album’s biggest hit, “Breathe Me”, is described as alternative rock and a power ballad. Some People Have Real Problems expanded her connection with indie pop. Sia stated, “Colour the Small One … couldn’t be more derivative of Kings of Convenience and James Taylor and the things that Zero 7 were playing on the [tour] bus. I’m very easily influenced.”
In 2009, after leaving Zero 7, Sia dedicated herself entirely to her solo career. We Are Born (2010), incorporated various pop styles, including synthpop and R&B, with introspective themes accompanied by more insistent and livelier rhythms. 1000 Forms of Fear (2014) consolidated her connection with pop (with traces of electropop, reggae and hip-hop), while This Is Acting (2016) is mostly composed of songs written by Sia with other female pop artists in mind, but the artists did not include the songs on their albums. Sia described songwriting for others as “play-acting.” The Guardian’s Kitty Empire commented that the latter album “provides an obvious counterpoint to Sia’s more personal album of 2014, 1000 Forms of Fear, whose stonking single, “Chandelier”, tackled her intoxicated past. This Is Acting makes plain the fact of manufacture – a process akin to bespoke tailoring.” The record also alternates reggae and electropop with more introspective themes.
Sia’s voice has been described as “deep, playful, and powerful”. In her 2016 live performances, Sia’s music was part of performance-art-like shows that involved dance and theatrical effects. An MTV News writer opined that “Sia’s throaty, slurred vocals are her norm”, while a contributor to The Fader noted that “in the Billboard Hot 100 landscape, Sia’s songwriting voice, which deals with depression and addiction, is singular—her actual voice even more so.” Everyday Is Christmas (2017), Sia’s first release of Christmas music, is a pop album that gives old-fashioned holiday music “some 21st century pop gloss” and is made for those who grow tired of the classics. Music – Songs from and Inspired by the Motion Picture (2021) further developed Sia’s pop music catalogue, with the album incorporating more electropop and reggae, alongside R&B and EDM. National Public Radio called Sia “the 21st century’s most resilient songwriter”.
Accolades and recognition
Sia has received an array of accolades, including ARIA Awards, an MTV Video Music Award and nine nominations for Grammy Awards.
In March 2021, a laneway in Adelaide city centre was renamed Sia Furler Lane, and a mural titled She Imagined Buttons was painted on a wall nearby to commemorate Sia’s 2011 performance in Adelaide. As of October 2022, Sia has 15 entries on the APRA billion streams list, the most of any artist.
In the 2014 South Park episode “The Cissy”, Sia provided the vocals for the fictional Lorde track “Push (Feeling Good on a Wednesday)”. In 2016 Sia covered “Blackbird” by The Beatles for the Netflix original series Beat Bugs. She appeared in the 2017 animated film My Little Pony: The Movie as the voice of pop star Songbird Serenade. She also contributed an original song, “Rainbow”, to the film’s soundtrack. Sia wrote the songs for the soundtrack to the 2018 musical film Vox Lux, with a score by Scott Walker.
She wrote a screenplay, based on a story that she had written in 2007, for the 2021 musical film, Music, which starred Ziegler, Kate Hudson and Leslie Odom Jr. Sia also directed the film and wrote its soundtrack. The film was released in Australia in January 2021 and in select IMAX theatres in the US for one night on 10 February 2021, followed by an on-demand release. It received negative reviews from critics and generated controversy for its depiction of autism. It was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the 78th Golden Globe Awards. As director of Music, Sia later won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director.
Relationships and family
Following the disbandment of Crisp in 1997, Sia moved to London to follow her relationship with boyfriend Dan Pontifex. Several weeks later, while on a stopover in Thailand, she received the news that Pontifex had died after being in a car accident in London. She returned to Australia, but received a call from one of Pontifex’s former housemates, who invited her to stay in London. Her 2001 album Healing Is Difficult lyrically deals with Pontifex’s death: “I was pretty fucked up after Dan died. I couldn’t really feel anything.” Sia recalled the effect of his death in a 2007 interview for The Sunday Times: “We were all devastated, so we got shit-faced on drugs and Special Brew. Unfortunately, that bender lasted six years for me.”
Sia married documentary filmmaker Erik Anders Lang at her home in Palm Springs, California, in August 2014. The couple divorced in 2016. During a 2014 appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Sia was asked if she was religious, to which she responded, “I believe in a Higher Power and it’s called ‘Whatever Dude’ and he’s a queer, surfing Santa that’s a bit like my grandpa, so yes.” In the same interview, she stated that she is a feminist and that Whatever Dude divinely inspired the lyrics she wrote for Rihanna’s song “Diamonds”. One of Sia’s tattoos on her hand reads “Whatever Dude”. Sia is a cousin of Australian Christian rock musician Peter Furler.
In 2019, Sia adopted two boys who were aging out of the foster care system. In 2020, Sia announced that she had become a grandmother when one of her two 19-year-old sons had fathered twins.
In 2008, Sia discussed her sexual orientation in interviews and revealed her relationship with JD Samson; they broke up in 2011. When asked about her sexuality in 2009, she said, “I’ve always dated boys and girls and anything in between. I don’t care what gender you are, it’s about people. … I’ve always been… well, flexible is the word I would use.” Sia identified as queer on Twitter in 2013.
Health and substance use
Sia has suffered from depression and addictions to painkillers and alcohol. In 2010, she wrote a suicide note, planning to overdose. A friend phoned her and, unintentionally, saved her life. Following this, Sia joined Alcoholics Anonymous. Sia cancelled various promotional events and shows due to her poor health in 2010. She cited extreme lethargy and panic attacks, and she considered retiring permanently from performing and touring. She stated that she had been diagnosed with Graves’ disease. Later that year, Sia said her health was improving after rest and thyroid suppression therapy. In 2019, Sia stated that she suffers from Ehlers–Danlos syndrome. She has also stated that she was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, stemming from childhood traumas, including being sexually abused at the age of nine, and autism. Sia said that following the backlash she received regarding her film Music, she relapsed, became suicidal again and returned to rehabilitation.
Sia is a vegetarian and “has long been an advocate for animals”. She has participated in campaigns to protest against large-scale pet breeding and encourage people to spay or neuter their pets. She performed her song “I’m in Here” at the Beagle Freedom Project Gala, in 2013, and wrote the song “Free the Animal” for public service announcements supporting “cruelty-free … fashion” in 2015. For her 2016 Nostalgic for the Present Tour, Sia partnered with various rescue organisations to conduct a dog adoption fair at each of her concerts. In 2017, she released another public service announcement to encourage pet adoption. She is a narrator of the animal rights documentary Dominion.
Healing Is Difficult (2001)
Colour the Small One (2004)
Lady Croissant (2007)
Some People Have Real Problems (2008)
We Are Born (2010)
1000 Forms of Fear (2014)
This Is Acting (2016)
Everyday Is Christmas (2017)
We Meaning You Tour (2010–2011)
We Are Born Tour (2011)
Nostalgic for the Present Tour (2016–2017)