Seela Misra is a singer’s singer—a musician whose voice lets her transmit life’s truths comfortably in a wide variety of genres. As a songwriter, she uses this voice to convey a unique perspective on everything from love and loss to her deep, unwavering faith—often exploring lofty themes with a light and playful touch. As one song from her new record “Track You Down,” makes perfectly clear, her voice is her primary instrument and she is committed to lifting it up in both praise and love, even while acknowledging her messy, imperfect humanity:
Mustard seed goes through the motions. Wash your feet, get undressed. A pretty day to be a pilgrim. A pretty day to be a mess. Welcome to my father’s house. And I come ready to sing away everything. Come ready to sing.
Born in Ontario to Indian immigrants, Seela found her way to Austin after college in the usual way: with a guitar and no real plan. Inspired by Austin’s live music scene, she was experimenting with her own songwriting at home on a borrowed four-track recorder. One day, she wandered into a basement jazz club called The Elephant Room on a quest to experience the unfamiliar adult world of happy hour. She immediately got hooked on The Jazz Pharaohs, was cajoled into singing with them and inevitably became part of the band. At the same time, while performing open mics at the Cactus Café and other storied venues, Seela met her lifelong “people” within Austin’s close-knit music community. In the years since, she has sung back-up, collaborated with and cracked wise among dozens of musical heavyweights from Austin and beyond, sharing the stage with those such as Freedy Johnston, Sean Hayes, Ari Hest, Bob Schneider, Shinyribs (Kevin Russell), Anthony da Costa, Matt the Electrician, Jaimee Harris, Ian McLagan, Kevin Lovejoy, Ephraim Owens, Stan Smith, Brannen Temple, Beaver Nelson, Stephen Doster and Jon Dee Graham. In addition, her genre-bending solo career has comprised sultry jazz croonings with her band TOrcH, as well as rockin’ folk songs and soulful gospel revelations that elicit goosebumps and inspire gratitudes.
With the release of her latest album, a gospel-soaked collection of love songs, Seela blurs the lines between the personal and the spiritual—with an unprecedented depth of feeling and purity. Co-produced by guitarist/whiz-kid Anthony da Costa and featuring a star-studded ensemble of talent, including Adrian Quesada, Kevin Lovejoy, Anthony da Costa, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Jeff Plankenhorn, Andrew Pressman and Jon Greene, “Track You Down” is a sonically solid, vulnerable offering that evokes the enduring mystery of the meaning and transformative power of faith.
When she’s not performing, Seela can be found at home in South Austin with her dreamy-drummer husband Jon, their magical dog Liza, something simmering on the stove, and a garden full of flowers & vegetables.
“…stark, ofttimes sexy,…Seela’s voice is her main calling card, soft and inviting, belaying the darkness in her songs….” –The Austin Chronicle
“Love Burn Me Down” is so beautiful and true that I wish it was mine.” – Jon Dee Graham, songwriter hero
“Seela’s voice makes you shut up and pay attention. The rawness of the music backing that voice compliments her personality to create something truly unique.” – Ari Hest, Songwriter / Producer
“Food that exemplifies the joy of cooking. She makes the kind of meals that the country mouse & the city mouse can enjoy together.” -Jud Newcomb, neighbor