The Sounds of the City danced to a different drummer by showcasing, Sheila E, (Escovedo), and boy did she had the audience jumping and wanting more. Sheila E’s performances are known to be high energy and spontaneous. This concert marks her first time at New Jersey Performance Art Center. She routinely brings audience members up on stage, and often targets those few who aren’t feeling the groove. She first brought up a guy and danced with him to 90’s Hip hot moves. She then gave drum lessons to young children in the audience.
As for the set list, the audience can expect a handful of hits with which she is associated, but otherwise it’s a free-for-all between the musicians on stage. Any song may turn into a 20-minute dance groove or a song might be called at the bandleader’s whim. She said we are just groovin, is that all right with you? Audience YAH. “You are watching us paint a picture right in front of you,” she said. “I can play ‘Love Bizarre’ and do a verse-chorus-verse-chorus and then do 20 minutes of different types of music just within that one song.” The major surprise for the audience in between a song, she opened up a bottle of water, we thought she was just thirsty, then she began blowing into the bottle creating a wonderful sound and the band followed and the groove was on. Along with her charitable work, Sheila E. also sees her concerts as a way to make a larger contribution. She wants people, especially women, to see her success despite long odds, and she also feels an obligation to be a role model to those coming after her. “Definitely I know what I went through and I know women are going through that now,” she said. “Part of the testimony for me is to share with women that it’s never too late.”
Shelia is a versatile drummer, and is an expert in many percussion mediums. However, her instrument of choice is the timbales. Timbales are versatile drums that add a distinctive sound to all styles of music, but are especially situated to the music of Cuba. The typical arrangement of Timbales requires two drums attached to a metal stand, as well as one or two cowbells. Wood blocks and cymbals can also be used instead of, or in addition to the timbales, and many timbales players have custom sets of up to eight drums, plus percussion accents. A player, such as Shelia E (called a timbalero) uses a variety of stick strokes, rim shots, and rolls to produce a wide range of percussive expression during solos and at transitional sections of music, and usually plays the shells of the drum or auxiliary percussion such as a cowbell or cymbal to keep time in other parts of the song.
“Some of the musicians, especially of course, men—other men drummers—were not very happy and pleased at the beginning of my career,” she recalled during a recent interview. “Women have come a long way. It’s not just saying, ‘You play good for a girl.’ If you’re a great musician, you’re a great musician.” Rolling Stones rated the top 100 drummers, and not one woman was included. The best female drummers are those musically inclined ladies who saw a great deal of success manning the drums within a band or as a solo musician. You might not find them on the “Rolling Stone” list of greatest drummers of all time but she has solidified her place as one of the best female drummers ever. As if women didn’t have a hard enough time being recognized among male band members in the music industry already, female drummers face additional struggles. Chauvinistic critics will allege that women lack the physical strength, passion or even drive to be a successful drummer. Clearly Sheila proves that stigma wrong, check out her arms.
Sheila E. (Photo: Norman DeShong)
For the simple fact that Shelia, play percussion in the largest range of styles, from Rock, funk, r&b, to salsa. A Drummer, vocalist; Shelia E has played with father, Pete Escovedo, in group Azteca, beginning c. 1973; also did studio work with artists including Herbie Hancock, Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, and Marvin Gaye; began working with Prince, c. 1984; solo recording artist and concert performer, 1985 Appeared in film, Krush Groove, 1985. Awards: At least two gold albums. Shame on you Rolling Stones to your bias journalism.
What’s next for Sheila, there is much more to come. This year it is in her plan to release a new album, her first in 13 years, and played selection from the new album. Additionally she will be releasing biography about her life. Born in 1958 she shared her age with the audience, 55 and was radiant. She tends to gravitate toward musicians from her native Bay Area, and performing with her will be bassist Raymond McKinley, guitarist Nate Mercer, keyboardist Mike Blankenship, saxophonist Eddie M. and drummer Chris Coleman.
In closing while listening to her play, I could here playing of another timbalero Tito Puente. Her father, Pete Escovedo is a renowned percussionist, as are her brothers, and the legendary Tito Puente was her godfather. Listen to “El Rey Del Timbal”, performed by Tito, and Shelia E’s father Peter Escovedo.
Sheila E. soon struck solo success with her debut album Glamorous Life. The title song proved popular enough to help earn the young drummer-vocalist a gold album, and her second long-playing effort, 1985′s. She ended the night with a strong performance. See Below,
Singer, songwriter, drummer
Sheila E. (Photo: Norman DeShong)