*This writer traveled down memory lane recently with singer/percussionist Sheila E. We talked about her family, career, Prince, and her upcoming show at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located at 250 Bedford Park Blvd West in the Bronx, NY. Sponsored by Lehman Center and Goya Foods the concert is on Saturday, October 13th at 8:00 pm when Sheila will join Deniece Williams and trio Tony! Toni! Tone! for a fabulous R&B, Pop and Soul concert.
“I grew up in the Bay Area where I heard a lot of music. I constantly listened to my father Pete Escovedo, who is a musician and artist. He also drew and painted. His first instrument was saxophone. He claims he heard saxophonists got all the beautiful women so took it up. However, he later ended up playing percussion. I constantly had music in my home. My uncles, and cousins played instruments. We had jam sessions. There were musicians who came to my home, artists like Mongo Santamaria, Ray Barretto, Lou Rawls, the Whisperers and my Godfather Tito Puente,” stated Sheila.
Sheila E. (Escovedo) joined her father’s band who at the time was signed to Clive Davis at CBS Records. They toured opening for artists like The Temptations, Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire. Her career took off and she never looked back. Escoveda performed with Lionel Ritchie, Herbie Hancock and Diana Ross. She joined Marvin Gaye’s Midnight Love Tour as a percussionist and the next year recorded “The Glamorous Life,” and “A Love Bizarre,” which became one of her signature songs, with Prince. The video for The Glamorous Life” song resulted in 3 MTV Award nominations for Best Female Video, Best New Artist and Best Choreography. She also received 2 Grammy Award nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Female and Best New Artist.
“When I met Prince he and his bass player Andre Cymone attended one of my shows. Prince was not as blown up then as he was after the Purple Rain movie. He wanted to know my fee and was not sure at that time he could afford me. Although, I was willing to work something out. Prince also mentioned that he and Andre were fighting over which one of them would be first to be my husband.” recalled the singer-songwriter who reflected on her years of friendship with Prince up unto his death.
While her contemporary Deniece Williams had a program entitled Kids Of Promise which exposed kids to music and musical instruments, Sheila also co-founded her own initiative with Lynn Mabry called “Elevate Hope” which they installed in the Oakland area primarily as well as in various cities.
“We ask local artists to go into classrooms and educate kids on music and the arts. A lot of the arts are being taken out of the classrooms due to budget cuts so we are attempting to raise money to make sure we can bring art back into schools,” explained the author of her memoir “Beat of my Own Drum.” A new book is forthcoming.
Sheila performed three stints as one of the members of “Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, in 2001, 2003, and 2006.
“I was one of those folks who screamed their head off when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Ringo is an amazing drummer and it was great to be in the position to hear some of the stories he told about the Beatles touring experiences. Never did I think I would ever meet Ringo let alone perform with his All-Starr Band. That time was phenomenal.”
Tickets to the upcoming concert that features Sheila E, Deniece Williams and Tony! Toni! Tone! at Lehman Center for the Performing Art on Saturday, Oct 13th at 8:00 pm can be gained by calling the Lehman Center Box Office at 718-960-8833 and/or on line at www.lehmancenter.org. VIP tickets are available which entitle the ticket holder to a 6:30 pm reception of wine and hors d’oeuvres and the best seats in the house.
To learn more information about Sheila E, visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blakeradio/2018/10/03/topically-yours–drummer-singer-sheila-e
Deardra Shuler has experience in theatre, music, concert promotion, television and publishing. She was affiliated with the Negro Ensemble Company and is a former manager of the children’s theatre,”TADA.” She has produced and promoted concerts in Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, and Radio City Music Hall.
Ms. Shuler is the former Editor and Managing Editor of three New York City minority newspapers. Presently, she is the Entertainment Editor of The Black Star News. As a freelance writer she writes for several New York City newspapers; including the Examiner, Amsterdam News and Eurweb.
Deardra freelances for Afrocentricnews in California. She is the former PR chairman for the FESPACO film festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Africa, and is presently program manager for BlakeRadio.com where she also hosts her own show “Topically Yours.”