An artist in every sense of the word, Lhasa de Sela wowed audiences around the globe with her multilingual songs and spellbinding performances, mixing together everything from Gypsy music to Mexican rancheras, Americana and jazz, chanson française, and South American folk melodies. In Canada, her album La Llorona won the Juno Award and went gold, and its follow-up, The Living Road, won a BBC World Music Award. Tragically, de Sela succumbed to breast cancer in 2010 at the age of thirty-seven after recording her final album, Lhasa.
Tracing de Sela’s unconventional life and introducing her to a new generation, Why Lhasa de Sela Matters is the first biography of this sophisticated creative icon. Raised in a hippie family traveling between the United States and Mexico in a converted school bus, de Sela developed an unquenchable curiosity, with equal affinities for the romantic, mystic, and cerebral. Becoming a sensation in Montreal and Europe, the trilingual singer rejected a conventional path to fame, joining her sisters’ circus troupe in France. Revealing the details of these and other experiences that inspired de Sela to write such vibrant, otherworldly music, Why Lhasa de Sela Matters sings with the spirit of this gifted firebrand.
Chapter 1. A Flock of Black Sheep Chapter 2. The Wailing Woman Chapter 3. The Paradox Chapter 4. Mile End Chapter 5. Bells
Postscript: “The Girl-Fish”: A Catalonian Folktale as Recounted by Andrew Lang in The Orange Fairy Book Acknowledgments Notes
Fred Goodman is a former editor at Rolling Stone whose work has appeared in the New York Times and many magazines. His previous books include the award-winning The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce.
Why Lhasa de Sela Matters...is an intimate portrait of the creativity that resulted from the collision of a hopeful and hopeless romantic. Goodman narrates the challenges and possibilities of living a nomadic life, and how those challenges and possibilities impacted Lhasa as an artist, a sister, a daughter, a partner, and a loving human being.
[Why Lhasa de Sela Matters] gets to the heart of what made de Sela such a singular and beloved talent…Goodman's book makes a wonderful case for continued reverance.
Fred Goodman has uncovered the story of an obscure, adventurous singer who refused to take the easy path…[A] slim but absorbing book.
[An] engrossing new biography.
~Los Angeles Times
Why Lhasa de Sela Matters captures the lightning-in-a-bottle of her life and music.
~Please Kill Me
A compelling and valuable biography…Goodman probes de Sela's upbringing with surgical skill.
~FYI Music News
Goodman's book captures the beauty of de Sela's life and music...[an] insightful biography.
Goodman's account relies heavily on interviews he conducted with Lhasa's family, friends, and musical collaborators, and to give each of them as much space as he does is welcome, illuminating Lhasa through the primary legacy she left for her loved ones. The argument that Goodman sets out to make—that Lhasa is worth remembering—is proven time and again by the stories her intimates tell to memorialize her.
Goodman crafts an enchanting story that's nothing less than modern musical mythology…While [Why Lhasa de Sela Matters] features deft prose and taut pacing, the hallmark of the book is Goodman's otherworldly interview skills. Specifically, his ability to weave together an immense amount of direct quotations from Lhasa's inner circle and her own interview archives makes for a fresh and vital reading experience...Goodman invites you to first wrap yourself in this tragic tale of a life cut down in its prime, and then dive headlong into the music she created.
~Bearded Gentlemen Music
Through gripping, dynamic storytelling, [Goodman] paints a lavish portrait of this sometimes-nomadic and temperamental, yet lovable artist…Why Lhasa de Sela Matters is a long, winding tale, with amazing highs and decimating lows, all about a rare and old soul, someone who was taken from this life far too soon. Fans and the uninitiated alike will be equally enthralled by this lovely and all-too-short story—one that is incredibly difficult to put down.
Why Lhasa de Sela Matters is an eloquent argument on behalf of the late singer.
[Why Lhasa de Sela Matters] goes a long way to giving some overdue—and, sadly, posthumous—credit to a singer with a unique voice that was always seeking new musical roads.
[Why Lhasa de Sela Matters is] a slim but illuminating book that fills a gap and serves a dual purpose: the ideal introduction for Lhasa neophytes, it also offers fans entry into deeper currents of her music and sensibility. In the process, it amply justifies its title.