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A double happy debut set for Sheba

A double happy debut set for Sheba

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October 15, 2008
Attn Arts and Entertainment reporters
A double happy debut set for Sheba

She is a novelist, an accomplished performer that has written and starred in her own theatre productions and a radio play and has been described by media as "a powerful persona", "risqué" and "in your face".

And in November 2008, Sheba will cement her reputation as one of Aotearoa's most exciting and original musicians with the release of her debut double-album.

Sheba's self-titled debut album is the culmination of years of multidisciplinary art and will feature a deluxe limited edition package consisting of The Black Album and The White Album, spanning the genres of funk, afrobeat, calypso, acoustic and electronica to produce an eclectic sound, which she calls Calyptro, fusing elements of her Caribbean heritage with her New Zealand upbringing.

The Black Album is a twelve-track studio album recorded at Trident Studios with famed engineer Mike Gibson (Recloose, So So Modern, Hollie Smith) and co-produced by Sheba with emerging producer Skylab, apart from the song Integrity, which was recorded in Shanghai.

The White Album showcases Sheba's stunning flair for outrageous and energetic live performance, and is a recording of a concert Sheba performed at The Wellington Botanical Gardens Soundshell in January 2008 with her band The Afrobombastic Orchestra, and her dancers The Nefertitis.

The White Album also contains three music videos, two of which Sheba produced, and an excerpt from Sheba's book: Shanghai Sheba & The China Monologues, which she read earlier this year on Radio New Zealand.

"Its easier to get energy when it's live, the sound and the feeling is much more raw," explains Sheba. "You get feedback and although it's not perfect, I prefer live recordings because you can hear the crowd and feel the anticipation and the energy a lot more.

"The Europeans I've performed with were really receptive and open to my style. I'd go to a club in Rome and jump up on the mic and people would come up and ask me to record with them."

The three singles, backed by videos, have a distinctly New Zealand flavour. Paekakariki is a love story set in the 1920s, Philistines laments New Zealand's modern materialism and the demolition of our heritage, while Shy Guy offers Sheba's take on New Zealand's non-existent dating culture – "it's a miracle that our population is going," says Sheba.

"Sheba" available instore Monday, November 3rd
Distributed by Rhythmethod

Sheba's Album Release Performances:
Auckland, Khuja Lounge, 15th November 9pm $5
Wellington, San Francisco Bath House, Saturday 22nd November 9pm $10

Black Album Track Listing:
1. Introduction
2. Apocalypse Now
3. On Point Remix
4. Philistines
5. Easy
6. Integrity
7. High Time
8. Shy Guy
9. Paekakariki
10. On Point
11. Erotic Static
12. Heartache

White Album contents:
Sheba and the Afrobombastic Orchestra, live at Wellington Botanical Gardens
Reading: Sheba and the Shanghai Monologues
Paikakariki music video
Shy Guy music video
Philistines music video



There are few people in the world who can sing in 12 languages; have penned their own theatre production and book; performed in places as diverse as Shanghai, Turkey and Berlin; directed their own music videos; and who stand on the precipice of launching their debut album.

But one such person is Sheba Williams, a prodigiously talented artist who has sharpened her ambition towards music and who has produced an album that can only be embodies Sheba as a uniquely global artist homegrown in New Zealand.

Sheba grew up on a diet of Calypso and Israeli music in the hills of the windy capital, inspired by the nurturing talent of her West Indian mother Mona Williams, who traveled from Kaitaia to Invercargill as a storyteller, weaving her mystical stories to children.

The well-travelled Sheba studied music in Switzerland, and embarked on collecting her repertoire in 12 languages. Sheba then voyaged to some of the most exotic places on Earth to perform in cities such as Kyoto, Rome, Taipei and Berlin, before spending an exhilarating sojourn in Shanghai, which inspired her to write "Shanghai Sheba & The China Monologues" which she recently read on Radio New Zealand National as a radio play.

This year sees the impending release of her debut album, over two years in the making and serving as an anthology of Sheba's unique experiences from around the globe. The album weaves the eclectic musical influences of calypso, afrobeat, funk, electronica and soul. The deluxe limited edition double album features two CD's: The Black Album and The White Album.

The Black Album was recorded in Wellington by Mike Gibson, and co-produced by Sheba and debutant Wellington producer Skylab, who seamlessly conducts the 12 tracks into a cohesive flow of sound. It opens with plumes of electronica, and mixes into a live introduction from a show Sheba performed in China 2005, The album traverses the realms of sonic experience, from fully acoustic to entirely electronic, with layers of percussion samples and Sheba's ethereal flute. The album features the alternative-radio hits Philistines, Shy Guy, and Paekakariki.

The White Album is a recording of Sheba performing a most celebrated gig, live at the Wellington Botanical Gardens in January 2008. The high energy of the stellar Afrobombastic Orchestra in support, stirring the excitement of thousands, showcases Sheba's key talent as a performance artist. The songs, up to 15 minutes in length, conclude with the sweet tongue-in-cheek ballad Mount Cook Casanova, dedicated to the ubiquitous boy across the road.

The White Album also includes three music videos, two of which were produced by Sheba. Paekakariki is a homage to a great source of inspiration to Sheba, the 1920s Parisienne sensation Josephine Baker. She filmed the video to Philistines frame by frame entirely out of photographs of her portraying both a missionary and a Maori in colonial New Zealand, reflecting on her self-stylised position as Parnellese, as her fathers family hails from Parnell. Shy Guy, a song about reserved New Zealand outlooks to romance, was completed during a four day stint in London by Reuben Sutherland, and featured shots of Sheba her being reluctantly/ enthusiastically kissed by extras she recruited on the spot.

She also includes an exclusive excerpt from her book, giving an insight into her past. She includes a chapter Apocalypse Now, which is the album's only spoken word track.

The album gives a glimpse of the chameleon performer, an artist who is forever reinventing herself with pen and paper, voice and video. Sheba negotiates the terrain of our fast changing nation, embodying the All World modernity New Zealand aspires to.

"Sheba" available instore Monday, November 3rd
Distributed by Rhythmethod


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