Sia Kate Isobelle Furler (born 18 December 1975), referred to mononymously as Sia (//), is an Australian singer and songwriter. She started her career as a singer in the local Adelaide acid jazz band Crisp in the mid-1990s. In 1997, when Crisp disbanded, she released her debut studio album titled OnlySee on Flavoured Records in Australia. Following the event, she moved to London, England and provided lead vocals for British duo Zero 7.
In 2000, Sia signed to Sony Music's sub-label Dance Pool and released her second studio album, Healing Is Difficult, the following year. Displeased with the promotion of the record, she signed to Go! Beat and released her third studio album, Colour the Small One, in 2004. Dissatisfied with the project's struggling to connect with a mainstream audience, Sia relocated to New York City in 2005 and began touring across the United States. Sia released her fourth and fifth studio releases, Some People Have Real Problems and We Are Born, in 2008 and 2010, respectively. In 2014, Sia released her sixth studio album, 1000 Forms of Fear, which debuted atop the U.S. Billboard 200 and generated the top-ten single "Chandelier". In 2016, she released her seventh studio album This Is Acting, which spawned the top-five single "Cheap Thrills". Her catalogue also include successful collaborations "Titanium" (with David Guetta) and "Wild Ones" (with Flo Rida).
Sia's music incorporates hip hop, funk and soul as a base for her vocal styling. In 2014, she was ranked the 97th richest Australian person under the age of 40 by BRW magazine, with a reported net worth of AU$20 million. Her music has received an array of accolades, including ARIA Awards and MTV Music Awards.
Life and career
1975–97: Early life and career beginnings
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. Sia is the niece of actor-singer Kevin Colson, and musician Colin Hay, a member of Australian group Men at Work. Sia said that as a child, she imitated the performing style of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Sting, who she counted as her early influences. She attended Adelaide High School, graduating in 1994. 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 two EPs: Word and the Deal (1996) and Delirium (1997). In 1997 Crisp disbanded, and Sia released her debut studio album entitled OnlySee on Flavoured Records in Australia. The album sold 1,200 copies.
1997–2006: Zero 7, Healing Is Difficult and Colour the Small One
Following the disbandment of Crisp in 1997, Sia moved to London. where she performed as a background vocalist for British band Jamiroquai. She also provided lead 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: "Destiny" and "Distractions." The single "Destiny" peaked at number 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 again collaborated with Zero 7 for the group's third album, The Garden and hence she is regarded as the "unofficial" lead singer of Zero 7.
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 number 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: "Don't Bring Me Down", "Breathe Me", "Where I Belong" and "Numb". "Breathe Me" was the most commercially successful single from the album, peaking at number 71 in the United Kingdom, number 19 in Denmark and number 81 in France. "Where I Belong" was scheduled to be included on the soundtrack for the film Spider-Man 2; however, owing to a record label conflict, it was withdrawn at the last minute.
Dissatisfied with Colour the Small One's being poorly marketed and struggling to connect with a mainstream audience, Sia relocated to New York City in 2005. During which 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.
2007–09: Some People Have Real Problems
In 2007, Sia released a live album entitled 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 number 41 in Australia and was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association. It charted at number 26 on the US Billboard 200, becoming Sia's first album to chart in the United States.
Some People Have Real Problems yielded four singles. The lead single, "Day Too Soon", was released in November 2007 and peaked at number 24 on the US Hot Dance Club Songs. The second single, "The Girl You Lost to Cocaine", was made available in March 2008. The single peaked at number 11 in the Netherlands and number 12 in Spain; it additionally reached number 8 on the US Hot Dance Club Songs. The third single from the album, "Soon We'll Be Found", was made available in October 2008. The Bart Hendrix Deep Dope remix of "Buttons" was issued as the final single from Some People Have Real Problems in February 2009.
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.
2009–13: We Are Born and songwriting career
In 2009, American singer Christina Aguilera approached Sia about writing ballads for Aguilera's then-upcoming sixth studio album. The final product, Bionic, includes three songs co-written by Sia. Later in 2010, Sia also co-wrote "Bound to You" for the soundtrack of the American film Burlesque, which starred Aguilera and American singer 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 number 2 on the ARIA Albums Chart and was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association. We Are Born was preceded by three singles: the lead single, "You've Changed", was released in December 2009 and charted at number 31 in Australia. The follow-up single, "Clap Your Hands", was made available in June 2010 and became the album's best-charting single, peaking at number 17 in Australia, number 10 in the Netherlands and number 27 in Switzerland. "Bring Night" was issued as the final single from the project in September 2010, peaking at number 99 in Australia. 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 embarked on The We Meaning You Tour, which visited North America and Europe in April–May 2010. Sia further embarked on the We Are Born Tour, which visited Australia in February 2011 and North America in July–August 2011. In March 2012, Sia released the greatest hits album Best Of... in Australia.
Following the release of We Are Born, Sia decided to retire from the career as a recording artist and managed to start a career as a songwriter. She wrote the song "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" was a commercial success worldwide, peaking within the top five of record charts in the United States, Australia and numerous European regions. However, Sia was not pleased with the success of the single: "[...] 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, Flo Rida and Rihanna.
2013–present: Breakthrough, 1000 Forms of Fear, This Is Acting and Sister
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). In July 2014, Sia released her sixth studio album, 1000 Forms of Fear. The album debuted atop the US Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 52,000 copies. As of January 2015, the release has sold 177,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The record was also successful worldwide, peaking at number 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.
1000 Forms of Fear's lead single, "Chandelier" was released in March 2014. The song peaked at number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Sia's first entry as the lead artist on the chart. Elsewhere, the song experienced similar commercial success, charting within the top ten of the record charts in Australia and numerous European regions. As of January 2015, the single has 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. 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 live performances of songs from 1000 Forms of Fear, Sia chose not to show her face, either facing away from audiences or hiding it behind over-sized platinum blonde wigs. In videos for the singles "Chandelier", "Elastic Heart", and "Big Girls Cry", Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler danced in similar wigs. The three videos have received a total of more than 1.7 billion views. Sia explained to Kristen Wiig in an interview in Interview magazine that a need for privacy and desire for a non-celebrity lifestyle motivated her to conceal her face: "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."
In an interview with NME, Sia revealed that she had completed the follow up to 1000 Forms of Fear, entitled This Is Acting. Furler said that 1000 Forms of Fear was released so she could be freed from her record deal and simply write for other artists, but the album's success has spurred her to continue writing her own music.
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-worked songs originally from the musical. Sia, Kurstin, and Annie director Will Gluck were nominated at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards for Best Original Song for one of the film's original songs, "Opportunity". On 12 May 2015, Sia's cover of The Mamas & the Papas' "California Dreamin'" was released on the soundtrack of the movie San Andreas. The same month, alongside the digital deluxe release of 1000 Forms of Fear, she released a mobile game, Bob Job.
At the 72nd Venice International Film Festival in early September 2015, Sia announced that her new single "Alive" from This Is Acting was co-written by Adele and had originally been intended for Adele's third album. On 3 November 2015, Sia released another song from the album, "Bird Set Free", on Vevo. She released "One Million Bullets" on 27 November 2015. "Cheap Thrills" and "Reaper" were subsequently released as promotional singles for the album. On 21 January 2016, eight days prior to the release of This Is Acting, "Unstoppable" was released on Vevo and other platforms. It is the album's fifth track and served as the final pre-release promotion single for the album.
On 17 April 2016, Sia gave a widely-acclaimed performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival that went viral online. Her performance was labeled "incredible," "already legendary," "one of the greatest moments in Coachella’s 17-year history," and was consistently ranked on lists of the best performances from the 2016 festival. The performance was her first full concert since 2011.
On 18 May 2016, Sia made a surprise appearance during the finale for Survivor: Kaôh Rōng where she personally gave $50,000 to fan favorite contestant Tai Trang. She donated another $50,000 to an animal charity of his choice, citing that the two share a mutual love of animals.
Sia revealed in the autumn of 2015 that she had written and directed a screenplay based on a one-page story she wrote eight years prior. Titled Sister, Maddie Ziegler is set to star in the upcoming project. She and her husband Erik Anders Lang have also co-directed a documentary about her life, reportedly called Untitled Sia Documentary Project.
Sia lent her voice to the show South Park in its eighteenth season. In episode 3 entitled "The Cissy", she portrayed Lorde in a parody song in the episode entitled "Push (Feeling Good on a Wednesday)". The resemblance was so convincing that many viewers thought Lorde herself had provided the voice in the song.
Following the disbandment of Crisp in 1997, Sia decided to move to London to follow her first relationship with boyfriend Dan Pontifex. Several weeks later, while on a stopover in Thailand, she received the news that Dan had died after being in a car accident in London. Sia returned to Australia, but soon after returning she received a call from one of Dan's former housemates, who invited her to stay in London. Her 2001 album Healing Is Difficult lyrically deals with the death of Dan: "I was pretty fucked up after Dan died. I couldn't really feel anything. I could intellectualise a lot of stuff; that I had a purpose, that I was loved, but I couldn't actually feel anything." Sia recalled the effect of Dan's 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."
In 2008, Sia discussed her sexual orientation in interviews with Scotland on Sunday and AfterEllen.com, and announced her relationship with JD Samson; they later broke up in 2011. She was included on a list of gay entertainers in the June–July 2009 issue of The Advocate. In both 2009 and 2010, Sia was nominated by readers of SameSame.com.au as one of the 25 most influential lesbian and gay Australians. When asked about her sexuality, she said, "Before I was actually successful I'd always 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 didn't just recently open up, I just recently got famous! I've always been... well, flexible is the word I would use."
Sia has suffered from depression. She has said that she suffered from addiction to painkillers and alcohol, and had also contemplated suicide before, going as far as writing a suicide note.
In June 2010, Sia's official website announced that all scheduled promotional events and shows had been cancelled due to her poor health. She cited extreme lethargy and panic attacks and considered retiring permanently from performing and touring. According to her Twitter account, she was diagnosed with Graves' disease – an autoimmune disorder characterized by an over-active thyroid. Four months later, in an ARIA Awards interview, Sia said her health was improving after rest and thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
During an 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, Sia stated that she is a feminist and that Whatever Dude divinely inspired the lyrics she wrote for Rihanna's song "Diamonds".
Sia, who is a vegan, participated in an advertisement for PETA Asia-Pacific, with her dog, Pantera, to encourage pet neutering. Sia has also joined other publicly known figures for the "Oscar's Law" campaign, in protest against large-scale pet breeding. Other advocates include singers Jon Stevens, Paul Dempsey, Rachael Leahcar, and Missy Higgins. She is also a supporter of the Beagle Freedom Project, performing "I'm in Here" live at the Beagle Freedom Project Gala on 9 September 2013.
- OnlySee (1997)
- Healing Is Difficult (2001)
- Colour the Small One (2004)
- Some People Have Real Problems (2008)
- We Are Born (2010)
- 1000 Forms of Fear (2014)
- This Is Acting (2016)