Sheila E. released a new CD in Europe and will bring that music to Yoshi’s this weekend on two shows Dec 13 and 14, ahead of the CD’s release in the U.S.
Sheila E.’s music continues to be as fun and varied as the musical influence she had growing up in the Bay Area.
Influences in Sheila E.’s Music
As the elder child of Bay Area music legend Pete Escovedo, Sheila Escovedo grew with the variety of music his father infused in their house. As Sheila told me in an exclusive interview for Latino Music Café, “Dad would listen to all sorts of music like Latin, Rock, Motown, and Jazz, and he would like to play it all with his band. I grew up listening to all that music.”
Sheila E. grew up with music in her house, and with sports at school. She was a very good runner, and as a teenager began thinking of making the Olympic trials and team. But destiny would have it otherwise. A percussionist in her father’s band “Azteca” would call in sick on short notice and Sheila begged for a chance to fill in. Her mother helped plead her case with her dad, saying the teenager was ready to perform. Pete Escovedo finally agreed, and both him and Sheila were amazed.
“It was a transforming experience” Sheila remembered. “The feeling of playing on stage was amazing. My dad and even myself didn’t know that I could play that good. I had practiced a lot, but never realized I could perform that well. The feeling of that experience was so strong that I knew right then that I wanted to be a professional musician.”
Latin music legend Tito Puente was an influence in Sheila’s musical career, encouraging her to pursue her dreams. “‘Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve something’, Tito would tell me. Tito and my family, always provided me with positive reinforcement” Sheila E. commented. She also remembered Tito’s funny side. “Tito was a comedian; he enjoyed making you laugh.”
Besides her dad’s band, it would be drummer Billy Cobham and keyboardist George Duke with whom Sheila E. would sharpen her musical shops. As Sheila describes, “it was Billy Cobham the first one that wanted to record me with my dad. He was a drummer extraordinaire and I learned a lot from him. Billy introduced me to George Duke, with whom I performed and recorded a couple of albums. Playing with George was like playing with dad, as he was constantly looking after me as I was so young at that time.”
From there Sheila E.’s career continued to rise and by the time she met Prince, Sheila already had her band. “We were both at an event, and I saw him and went to introduce myself. When I got to him he spoke before I did and said ‘I know who you are’.”
Prince invited Sheila E. to perform and tour with his band, and with the MTV era in full swing, and Prince one of its biggest stars, Sheila E. became a household name.
Sheila E. Comes Full-circle to the Bay Area
With her presentations at Yoshi’s in San Francisco December 13th and 14th, Sheila E. comes full-circle to the here home. A native of Oakland, Sheila E. will be celebrating her birthday (I won’t say how many, but suffice to say that she doesn’t look her age) by introducing the music of her new album “Icon”.
“Icon” will be released in the U.S. in the spring of 2014, but copies will be available at Yoshi’s this weekend. I asked Sheila E. what fans can expect of her presentation at Yoshi’s:
“The fans at Yoshi’s will experience a musical journey through different musical styles and eras. The Bay Area is full of a great variety of music, and this is where I grew up. This is what I bring to the stage. I also make my shows a lot of fun! I like to have fun and like the people that come to my shows to have fun. And of course I will also play some of the music of the new CD ‘Icon’.”
Philanthropic Partnership with Yoshi’s
In the last few years Sheila E has been doing philanthropy work with the Elevate Hope Foundation, serving as co-chair. The Elevate Hope Foundation helps abused and abandoned children through music therapy. On December 15 a partnership with Yoshi’s will be announced to propel music education in Bay Area schools. The partnership will the called “501 Oakland” and will get kicked-off with a musical event on February 2014.
All in all, Sheila E. brings an experience of music and community to her birthday celebration this weekend at Yoshi’s San Francisco.