6 questions with Sheila E.: Streaming, 'We Are the World,' alien bugs

Rodney Ho, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Entertainment News

ATLANTA — Sheila Cecelia Escovedo, known as Sheila E., is one of the best-known female drummers in America, an Oakland, California, native who seems to transcend genres, be it funk, Latin, jazz, rock, pop or R&B. Her spirited 1984 hit “The Glamorous Life” is etched into the 1980s pop canon.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently spoke to the 66-year-old musical force, who continues to release new music and tour, via Zoom. Here are the highlights:

Q: Do you prefer indoor or outdoor venues?

A: I like both. It depends. Outdoor venues can be amazing. There’s only one thing I don’t like playing down South in that area. Those bugs are so big and if it’s later in the evening when the lights are on, the bugs are flying on you. Oh my God! I’ve had some alien bugs I am sure I could put a saddle on and ride. And I’ve swallowed bugs. They’ve landed in my eyes, my nose, one time in my ear. Thank God I got that one out quick.

Q: What’s the mix of music you’ll be playing at upcoming shows?

A: We’re playing different genres of music and some of the hits. I’m touring now with my E Train band. I’ll be mostly playing the drums. That’s why I started the band in the ‘90s. We’ll also be selling our Sheila E. and the E Train CDs. Physical product is important to us because streaming sucks. It’s money that doesn’t exist. That being said, we just encourage people to support us by buying the CD. We’ll sign it. I also have a salsa album but that is a whole different band.

Q: How do you challenge yourself?

A: There’s always something different because there’s always spontaneous playing. We vibe each other without even saying anything. Musically you follow each other and we’ll create a new song we have to put on a new record. We’ve done that during sound checks as well.


Q: I had the “We Are the World” poster over my bed in high school so you and 50 other big stars hovered over me for years. Was there any hesitation participating in the Netflix special about that day “The Greatest Night in Pop”? You were very open about Prince and how you tried to get him to join.

A: I had no hesitation. What did I have to hide? I just had to tell the truth. Basically the overall premise of being there was to raise money for Africa. That was the most important part of it making history in that monumental time. It will be a forever memory.

Q: It’s the 40th anniversary of the release of “The Glamorous Life”? What does that song mean to you now?

A: I play it at every show. I like playing it. It’s a beautiful song. I have fun playing it. It’s a very special song. Nobody has to ask me to play it. It’s done.

Q: And I always enjoyed the way you started “A Love Bizarre” with “A, B, C, D”!

A: I think we recorded that song in Atlanta! I’m pretty sure. We were on tour and had a day off and stopped in Atlanta and went to a studio.

©2024 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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