Very few drummers can play while standing and singing at the same time. That is how powerful Sheila E was.
It was long before people discovered the powerhouse in her, perhaps because Sheila E was initially marketed as one of the many set symbols in the Prince house. But she was one of the few members who made a real contribution to the group.
On her first tour of the Glamorous Life album, she played the role of a frontwoman who briefly played the timbales during instrumental breaks. And when Prince put her entirely behind the throne on the Sign “O” The Times tour, she made everyone’s drop on a nightly basis.
During the late-night and jam-heavy after-shows, Prince performed after the main event making everyone go crazy and think that she is one of the best female drummers in the world.
Later she worked on a few Ringo tours, in which she was basically the main drummer. One thing that amused her listeners was how she gave new life to everyone else’s hit.
She was always there to make sure those who played with her felt the vibe and was in the music. Her impeccable timekeeping skills are everything a modern band would wish for. Apart from this, she had a certain attraction around her that made all who played with her feel warm.
Life and career
Sheila Cecilia Escovedo, best known as Sheila E, was born on December 12, 1957. She is an American percussionist, singer, author, and actress who has made a massive impact on the industry.
She started working as a percussionist in the mid-70s for The George Duke Band until 1983. She then set on a solo career that was very successful, starting with her highly acclaimed debut album that carried songs like “The Glamorous Life.” She was soon a mainstream solo star in 1985 after the success of “The Belle of St. Mark”, and “A Love Song,” which became one of her signature tracks.
Sheila is known as “The Queen of Percussion” for a reason. She has some sort of magic in her hands that seems to just flow with the rhythm. She made her debut with jazz bassist Alphonso Johnson on “Yesterday’s Dream” of 1976.
She had already played with George Duke, Lionel Richie, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, and Diana Ross by her mid-20s. She continued making music until 1983 when she joined Marvin Gaye’s final tour Midnight Love Tour.
She met Prince in a concert in 1978 and worked together later in the Purple Rain recording sessions. She was the vocals on side-B of “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Erotic City” of 1984. Though she was working under Prince, she proved very successful on her own.
Sheila left Prince organization in 1989 and collaborated with several writers, including Demetrius Ross, to record and release the album Sex Cymbals in 1991.
She went ahead to work on several other projects, including music directing between 1996 and 2005. She rejoined Prince between 2007 and 2009, where she was involved in releasing a single “Waters of Life.” From 2009 she worked with the E Family Band and several other entities that she continues to serve.