Sheila Escovedo (born December 12, 1957), known by her stage name Sheila E., is a Grammy nominated American singer, drummer, and percussionist whose notable collaborators include Billy Cobham, Lionel Richie, George Duke, Prince, Ringo Starr, Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Hans Zimmer and Kanye West.
Early life and Prince period
Born in California, Sheila E. is the daughter of Juanita (Gardere), a dairy factory worker, and percussionist Pete Escovedo, with whom she frequently performs. Sheila E's uncle is Alejandro Escovedo., and Tito Puente was Escovedo's godfather. She also is niece to Javier Escovedo, founder of seminal San Diego punk act, The Zeros. Another uncle, Mario Escovedo, fronted long-running indie rockers, The Dragons. Escovedo is of Mexican and Creole heritage. Coke Escovedo, who was in Santana and formed the band Azteca, also was her uncle. Nicole Richie is Sheila E.'s biological niece, the daughter of Sheila's brother, Peter Michael Escovedo.
Sheila made her recording debut with jazz bassist Alphonso Johnson on "Yesterday's Dream" in 1976. By her early twenties she had already played with George Duke, Lionel Richie, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, and Diana Ross. She also plays guitar.
Prince met Sheila E. at a concert in 1978, when she was performing with her father. After the show he met her and told her that he and his bassist "were just fighting about which one of us would be the first to be your husband". He also prophetically vowed that one day she would join his band. The two would eventually join forces during the Purple Rain recording sessions. She provided vocals on the B-side to "Let's Go Crazy", "Erotic City" in 1984. Though taken under Prince's wing, she proved to be a successful artist in her own right. In 1984 she scored hits with "The Glamorous Life" (#7 on the Hot 100), and "The Belle of St. Mark" (#34), the latter an NME 'Single of the Week'. She opened for the Purple Rain Tour and the duo simultaneously began a brief romantic relationship, while Prince was still seeing Susannah Melvoin, twin sister of The Revolution band member, Wendy Melvoin.
In 1985 she released Romance 1600, scored another hit with the track "A Love Bizarre" (#11), and the non-album track "Holly Rock" made its way to live shows and into the film Krush Groove. She was also nominated for an American Music Award and a Grammy for "The Glamorous Life". Sheila E. recorded three albums during the '80s, The Glamorous Life, Romance 1600, and Sheila E.. She appeared in four films, Krush Groove with Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J and Blair Underwood in 1985, Prince's concert film, Sign "O" the Times in 1987 The Adventures of Ford Fairlane and Chasing Papi in 2003.
During the Sign "O" the Times, Black Album, and Lovesexy periods of Prince's career (including the Lovesexy World Tour), Sheila E. served as his drummer and musical director in his backup band, dubbed The New Power Generation not long after her departure. During the Sign "O" the Times era, she released the single "Koo Koo" from her third album Sheila E., which had Sign "O" the Times member Cat as a backup dancer in the accompanying video. Sheila E. also served as a writer and musician on many of Prince's records, as well as on the albums of his protégés such as Madhouse.
Post-Prince and other collaborations
After leaving the Prince organization in 1989, Sheila E. recorded a few more albums, Sex Cymbal, Writes of Passage, and Heaven. However, the albums garnered little attention. This was especially true in the case of Sex Cymbal, since Sheila E. developed severe health issues that prevented her from touring in order to promote it.
In 1996 she played in Japanese pop singer Namie Amuro's live backup band. The show at Chiba Marine Stadium was later made available on DVD. In 1998 she played percussion on the Phil Collins cover of "True Colors". In 2002 Sheila E. appeared on the Beyoncé Knowles song "Work It Out".
Sheila E. has performed three stints as one of the member "All-Starrs" of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, in 2001, 2003, and 2006. Her drum "duets" with Starr are a moment of comic relief in the show, where they play the same parts but he quickly falls behind, shrugs and smiles as she takes off on an extended percussion solo. Says Sheila E.: "Ringo truly is one of the greatest rock n' roll drummers in the history of music. He enjoys the joke!"
She also was the leader of the house band on the short-lived late night talk show, The Magic Hour, hosted by Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. in the late 1990s.
In 2004 Sheila E. toured New Zealand as drummer and percussionist for the Abe Laboriel Band. The same year she also was featured on Tonex's Out the Box on the song "Todos Juntos". She also played drums on Cyndi Lauper's hit album of standard covers, At Last. She played percussion on the song "Stay". Sheila E. joined Lauper on a live version of that song on VH1 Divas.
Sheila also performed at Prince's One Nite Alone... Live! concert, Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas in 2003, 36th NAACP Image Awards in 2005, and on the Good Morning show in June 2006. In 2005, Sheila E. was a surprise guest orchestrating a band, in Amerie's "1 Thing" performances for The Lady Of Soul & World Music Awards.
In February 2006 Sheila E. performed with Prince (and Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman) once again at the BRIT Awards. Sheila E. performed at the Sonoma Jazz Festival in 2006 as part of Herbie Hancock's band featuring Larry Carlton, Terrence Blanchard, Marcus Miller, and Terri Lyne Carrington.
In March 2007 she went on a small tour through Europe with her new band project called C.O.E.D. (Chronicles of Every Diva). C.O.E.D. consists of Sheila E., Kat Dyson, Rhonda Smith and Cassandra O'Neal. For several concerts she was joined by Candy Dulfer, who was billed as a special guest. She performed at the 2007 Latin Grammy Awards with Juan Luis Guerra. She also performed at the ALMA (American Latin Music Awards) Awards in June 2007 with Prince, and on 7 July 2007 in Minneapolis with Prince. She performed at all three of his concerts: first, at Prince's 3121 perfume launch at Macy's, followed by the Target Center concert, and finally, at an aftershow at First Avenue. In October 2007, Sheila E. was a judge alongside Australian Idol judge and marketing manager Ian "Dicko" Dickson and Goo Goo Dolls lead singer John Rzeznik on the Fox network's The Next Great American Band.
Sheila E. once again teamed up with Prince in March 2008, as she sat in (and played keyboard) on the performance with her family at Harvelle Redondo Beach. On April 9, 2008, Sheila E. appeared on the Emmy winning program, Idol Gives Back. Shelia E. took part in the show opener "Get on Your Feet" with Gloria Estefan. Dance troupe, So You Think You Can Dance finalists joined them on stage. On 26 April 2008, Sheila E., along with Morris Day and Jerome Benton, performed with Prince at the Coachella Music Festival. From 2 to 6 May 2008, Sheila E. played four sold-out shows at Blue Note Tokyo in Japan. This is the most frequented jazz music club in Tokyo.
On June 14, 2008, Sheila E. performed at the Rhythm on the Vine music and wine festival at the South Coast Winery in Temecula, California for Shriners Hospital for Children. She took the stage with the E Family, Pete Escovedo, Juan Escovedo and Peter Michael Escovedo. Other performers at the event were jazz musician Herbie Hancock, contemporary music artist Jim Brickman and Kirk Whalum.
In February 2009 she was made an honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority by the Eta Delta Chapter located at Howard University in recognition of her humanitarian efforts through and in music.
On May 30, 2009, Sheila E. and the E Family Band performed at Rhythm on the Vine at Gainey Vineyard in Santa Ynez, California for the Hot Latin Beats concert. Also performing at the concert was Poncho Sanchez. On 13 December 2009, Sheila E. performed at the Deryck Walcott produced Christmas Jazz held at the Plantation Restaurant in Barbados.
Sheila E. has collaborated many times with other artists, notably with Gloria Estefan for whom she played the timbales. Sheila E. first collaborated with Estefan on Estefan's first Spanish language studio album Mi Tierra in 1993, and in 2007 with Estefan's smash hit "No Llores" in which Estefan also collaborates with Carlos Santana and José Feliciano. She also is one fourth of the band C.O.E.D. (Chronicles of Every Diva), who toured overseas in 2008 and released a CD available in limited distribution or through her website.
In 2009 Sheila E. won the CMT reality show, Gone Country. This gave her an opportunity to make country music aided by the country producer, writer, and singer John Rich. Sheila E.'s first song in the country market was "Glorious Train". A video for the song debuted on CMT on 7 March 2009, following the airing of the episode of Gone Country in which Sheila E. was announced the winner.
Sheila E. performed two shows at Yoshi's in San Francisco on 15 August 2010. At her merchandise stand she sold an EP From E 2 U. It includes a song "Leader of the Band" written by Prince (uncredited, but confirmed by Sheila E.) and it features Prince on piano according to the song's introduction, where he is called by name. She toured on his 20Ten Tour and Welcome 2 America tours. In 2010, Sheila E joined forces with Avon as a celebrity judge for Avon Voices, Avon's first global, online singing talent search for women and songwriting competition for men and women. On May 25, 2011, Sheila performed alongside Marc Anthony on the tenth season finale of American Idol. On June 7, 2011, she performed on the Late Show with David Letterman as a part of the show's first "Drum Solo Week".
On February 26, 2012, Sheila performed at the 2012 Academy Awards alongside Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer, playing the into and out of commercial segments. On April 17, 2012, Sheila was featured with "Macy's Stars of Dance" on the Dancing with the Stars results show. On June 16, Sheila headlined the 2012 Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California. Sheila toured in 2012 alongside Sy Smith throughout Europe and the United States. Sheila joined Dave Koz on his 2012 Christmas Tour. 2013 will bring Sheila's next solo CD, as well as an autobiography.