Sia

Sia Coachella 2016
Sia - Coachella 2016. Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Early Life and Career

Sia Furler was born December 18, 1975 in Adelaide, Australia. She grew up the daughter of musician parents. They both were part of the band The Soda Jerx. She is also a niece of Men At Work's Colin Hay. As a child she counted Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Sting among her early influences. Sia says she came into her own as a singer while studying in Italy when she was 17.

She stood up in a karaoke bar and got the audience to join her in singing Bill Withers' "Lean On Me." In her late teens Sia performed jazz and then trip hop. She traveled with her boyfriend who was tragically killed in a London traffic accident.

UK Success For Sia

Following the death of her boyfriend Sia settled in London. She sang backup for Jamiroquai and recorded and released a solo album Healing Is Difficult in 2002. The music is influenced by jazz and soul. The lyrics discuss dealing with the death of her boyfriend. "Taken For Granted," a single from the album, reached the pop top 10 in the UK. Sia recalls the years in mourning over the death of her boyfriend as very difficult. In 2004 she released another studio album Colour the Small One.

Six Feet Under and Breathe Me

Sia was disappointed with the marketing of her music and relocated to New York City in 2005. It seemed that Sia's solo career was making little progress until her song "Breathe Me" from Colour the Small One was chosen to play a key role in the series finale of HBO's acclaimed Six Feet Under in the summer of 2005.

The song received airplay on alternative radio stations in the US and Colour the Small One broke into the Billboard Heatseeker chart.

Some People Have Real Problems

While pursuing her solo career, Sia also gained acclaim by appearing as a vocalist on albums by the English electronic music duo Zero 7.

Strong anticipation for her 2008 pop solo album Some People Have Real Problems helped the collection reach #26 on the US album chart. It reached the top 5 on the alternative album chart. The single "The Girl You Lost To Cocaine" became a top 10 dance hit. In 2009, Christina Aguilera approached Sia about writing songs for her album Bionic. Sia wrote three songs on the album. She also co-wrote "Bound To You" from the soundtrack to the film Burlesque and it earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song. In 2011, Sia appeared as an adviser to Christina Aguilera's team on the first season of The Voice.

Sia's Top Hits as Songwriter and Artist

  • 2011 - "Titanium" - Featured Artist with David Guetta - #7
  • 2011 - "Wild Ones" - Featured Artist with Flo Rida - #5
  • 2012 - "Diamonds" - Songwriter for Rihanna - #1
  • 2014 - "Chandelier" - Solo Artist - #8
  • 2016 - "Cheap Thrills" - Solo Artist - #1

We Are Born

Sia's 2010 solo album We Are Born was her most upbeat pop record yet and she gave some credit to childhood idols Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. The album was produced by Grammy nominated Greg Kurstin. It became her first top 10 hit album at home in Australia. In the US it broke into the top 40 on the album chart, her second consecutive album to do so.

Sia's Pop Hits as Featured Vocalist

Following We Are Born, Sia decided to retire from her career as a recording artist and concentrate on songwriting. Throughout her career Sia has collaborated with a wide range of other artists, so it comes as no significant surprise that her worldwide pop singles breakthrough should come through appearances on songs by other artists. In December 2011 David Guetta released the single "Titanium" with featured vocals from Sia, and it became a worldwide top 10 pop hit. The song was originally intended for Alicia Keys and then sent to David Guetta when it was rejected. The same month Flo Rida released his single "Wild Ones." It became Sia's first appearance in the pop top 10 in the US. "Titanium" was not officially released as a single in the US until the spring of 2012, and it quickly climbed the pop singles chart into the top 10.

 

Solo Pop Star

With the success of her featured appearances and songwriting on Rihanna's #1 pop hit "Diamonds," Sia reconsidered her retirement from work as a solo artist and the world was primed for her ascent as a pop star. Accompanied by a striking music video featuring 11-year-old dancer Maddie Ziegler, "Chandelier," the first single from the album 1000 Forms of Fear became Sia's breakthrough hit as a solo pop artist. It reached the pop top 10 around the world including #8 in the US. Sia promoted the song through an unusual string of TV performances. It was followed by the top 20 hit "Elastic Heart." Released in July 2014, the album 1000 Forms of Fear was a #1 hit in the US. "Chandelier" earned Grammy Award nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. 

Number One Hit

By February 2015, Sia revealed that she had completed This Is Acting, her follow up album to 1000 Forms of Fear. The new collection consisted of Sia's versions of songs she wrote that were rejected by other artists including Beyonce, Adele, and Rihanna. The single "Cheap Thrills" became Sia's first #1 pop hit single in the US in the summer of 2016.