Sheila E. is a multi-faceted drummer, percussionist, vocalist, songwriter, performer, arranger, producer, composer, instrumentalist and humanitarian. Her gifts have brought joy on the world and have made her one of today’s brightest talents, and she continues to be one of our most treasured stars. Sheila Escovedo was born into a musical family. She was heavily influenced by her father Latin jazz legend and timbalero Pete Escovedo (then band leader of the influential band Azteca) while watching him rehearse. At 5 years old, she made her concert “debut” at the former Sands Ballroom in Oakland, as she was invited on stage by her father to play a solo in front of an audience of 3,000. At that moment, Sheila knew exactly what she wanted to do: she was going to be a percussionist.
In 1983, Sheila caught the attention of Prince and changed her name to “Sheila E.,” and Prince helped her record her first solo album, “The Glamorous Life.” The first single from the album, “The Glamorous Life,” written, performed, and directed by Sheila E., was released in the spring of 1984 and earned popular and critical acclaim. This single went on to receive multiple Grammy and American Music Award nominations, and won MTV’s Best Video Award.
Since then, Sheila has played on countless albums and has made many notable appearances. Between expanding her company Stiletto Flats Inc., finishing her next solo album and continuing her philanthropic outreach, we were lucky to get some time to chat with the legendary musician herself! Check out our Q & A below to see what Sheila E. has been up to!
What’s the first gig you ever attended?
Probably in my living room as a child listening to my father and his friends rehearse, which would be an average response if my father was not the legendary Pete Escovedo and his friends were not musicians like Tito Puente and Carlos Santana.
What is the most memorable thing a fan has done for you?
Interesting question. Honestly, everyone is special to me in their own way. They make me who I am; they inspire me to do what I do. From the 5 year old who looks at me wondering who I am and is entranced by the drums, or the 75 year old who is cheering me on because they still enjoy what I do on the drums and in my performance.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Prayer, peace, and petition. I am blessed in the life God has given to me.
What is the best gig you have ever seen?
There have been so many great artists, so many great gigs.
What artists are on your playlist right now?
Pete Escovedo, The E Family, Heavenese,… who, coincidentally, are all on my Stiletto Flats Inc. record label. (laughs)
What artist would you love to collaborate with?
Hmm. I love artists who spend time on their craft, who pour part of themselves into what they do. You can literally hear it in the melody and lyrics of a song. Bruno Mars comes to mind, Adele, Ledisi, Goapele, Gwen Stefani just to name a few.
How do you connect with a crowd?
I like when the crowd is close. It’s like there is a mutual resonation between us. I feed off them, they feed off me.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2013?
To continue the expansion of my company Stiletto Flats Inc. We have multiple performance dates ahead (including a tour of Europe), we are in the studio finishing my next solo album, we are working toward the completion of my autobiography which is schedule to be released in 2014, we are in discussions with various film and television production companies about potential projects, and we will continue our philanthropy and work through various charities, including my own, Elevate Hope. 2013 is a very busy year.
Catch Sheila E. with Rose Royce and Kevon Edmonds THIS Saturday, May 11, at the Amphitheater at Riverdale Town Center!