*Anaheim – The 2nd Annual She Rocks Awards was held on Friday, January 24, 2014. This fantastic event was held at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel Grand Ballroom E, during NAMM 2014.
I was once again fortunate to attend this event. I arrive at the location to find a capacity crowd in attendance with the overflow crowd standing at the side and back of the room. The event consisted of people from the music industry, sponsors, and media and family members of the awards recipients.
*Just like the headline says, this page/board is where you can discuss the stuff that we didn’t cover in today’s issue. (It’s sort of like feedback with a twist) Remember, NO name calling, racial taunting, graphic sex talk and vulgarity in general, PLEASE.
EUR MOTIVATIONAL NOTE
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dec. 12: Singer Dionne Warwick is 72. Singer-percussionist Sheila E. is 55.
Dec. 12, 1899: African-American George F. Grant, dentist and avid golfer, receives a patent for a wooden golf tee. (Source: www.BlackFacts.com)
She is best known for her work with Prince, George Duke and Ringo Starr.
As a child and teenager, she frequently performed with her father who was also a percussionist. By her early twenties she had already played with George Duke, Lionel Richie, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, and Diana Ross. She joined Prince on several Purple Rain recording sessions and served as a writer and musician on many of his records as well. In her own right, she scored hits with “The Glamorous Life” and “The Belle of St. Mark”. She was nominated for an American Music Award and a Grammy for “The Glamorous Life.”
She says of her faith, “I was raised Catholic and only went to church because I had to. But I actually gave my heart to the Lord for the first time when I was 18. I was playing in George Duke’s band and one of the singers was driving me to a meeting and I was crying, just stressed out. There was a bunch of stuff going on and I said, ‘You know what? This is crazy.’ She said, ‘Look, if you just give your heart to the Lord, everything will be fine.’ And I thought, ‘You know, it’s not that easy.’ She said, ‘No, really, it is.’ So we prayed in the car and I accepted Christ right then.”
Well, what’s there not to say? She was a musical prodigy darn near since birth and, we’re sure you all know about the whole Prince stint, as well as the slew of solo hits she has to her credit.
Recently the musical impresario sat down with EURweb.com’s Lee Bailey for a conversation about this and that. Practically everything except sneakers and hats. First and foremost though, she talks about the Playboy Jazz Festival as well as her music and a troubled event in her youth that inspired her. However, upon doing research for the interview we came across a piece of information that even we didn’t know about. An Emmy nomination?
“I got a call from Bounce (TV network), as well as the White House, to be musical director for a performance called Fiesta Latina for TBS and Terrence Swift, and other people from Bounce, asked me to be one of the producers as well,” she explained. “It was very cool to be honored and be acknowledged in that way for the first time ever, being nominated for an Emmy.”
Being nominated is one thing, but winning is another. It’s likely we didn’t hear more about it because she didn’t get the award.
“It’s pretty ironic actually,” said Sheila. “Everyone always asks me if I wasn’t playing music what would I be doing with my life. I was running track early in my years and I was breaking track records in sprint running. I was training and I wanted to be in the Olympics. I thought I was going to be able to win a gold medal and my mind was pretty much set on ‘this is what I want to do’. I loved running track, and I loved sports. I got that part from my Mom. The Emmy that I lost, and I can’t remember his name, I lost to the man who did the Olympics. So, it was great to lose to him. It’s the Olympics. ”
By the way she lost to composer John Pearce, musical director for the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Sheila E. (The E is for Escovedo) has performed with so many talented, Rock and Roll hall of fame bound, musicians and in renowned venues that it is a bit hard for one to fathom that she would be in awe of any event. However, she told us that playing at the legendary Playboy Jazz Festival is a little different.
“You grow up and you see on television these performances where someone has played the Hollywood Bowl,” she explained. “I didn’t live in Los Angeles, I grew up in the Bay Area, so to see it on television you see all the greats performed there. Then, when you finally drive up to the actual venue and see this historical place where you’re going to perform, and the great thing is for it to be called the Playboy Jazz Festival. It’s music! It’s part of the foundation of who I am as an artist, growing up listening to Latin jazz because of my Dad. It’s just an incredible place to be and I’m just honored and thrilled to be a part of it for so many years.”
Part of the reason why Sheila has so many fans from different backgrounds is because she is great at playing a multitude of musical styles. So, what can attendees at the Playboy Jazz Fest expect? The unexpected, of course.
“Actually, I have five different bands. I put bands together, like I’ve done for Beyonce, Prince and whoever. So people call me to put bands together or, for corporate things that I do, I just love playing music so much. Sometimes it just depends on whose available. My band members are incredible players, and they play with so many different people that I had to have like 5 bands. Some for just Latin jazz or salsa music, maybe one for some R&B or funk music, some Sheila E music. This band (that I’ll be playing with) is a band I put together more recently, I’d say about a year. We’ve been playing, on and off, for about a year now. It’s a great group of people that I think everybody is going to enjoy and, yes, my Dad (percussionist Pete Escovedo, a legend in his own right) will come and play a song or two with me. I gotta have Papi there.”
“You’re going to hear music that has inspired me over the years as far as me being an artist,” she continued. “My genre of music is very eclectic. I might play some latin jazz, or just go into a spontaneous jazz thing. That’s the thing about coming to one of my performances. Not every show is the same. The majority of my show is improvising. I can have a set of songs that we’re going to do, but a lot of it is just enjoyment. Part of it is interacting with the audience. I bring people up on stage. There’s a lot of improvising and that’s what keeps it fun for me. I don’t play the same thing all the time.”
For those that don’t know the Hollywood Bowl is … well, a bowl shaped outdoor venue in, where else, Hollywood … at the base of the Hollywood hills. It has been the home to the Playboy Jazz Festival for 34 years. We asked Sheila what unique challenges does playing outdoors present.
“One time I was playing on a tour with Ringo (Starr) and it was so hot that I had to be taken off the drums. The paramedics were there. That was the first time that ever happened. It wasn’t only the heat, but also the heat from the lights. I like it being hot, but temperature does play a role in how I play. When it gets cold outside, and it starting to get cold, and I’m playing the drums, because of the moisture on the drums you actually have to play harder. It doesn’t give you something back because of the moisture in the air.”
We understand not everyone can get out to Hollywood to check out the Jazz Festival to end all jazz festivals, but if you’re hankering for some Sheila E sounds then there is good news.
“I did want to mention that the E family has out a new CD called ‘Now and Forever’. We have such guests as Earth, Wind and Fire, Joss Stone, Raphael Saadiq, Joyce Gibbs and Israel Hoover.”
One of the incredible things about being in this line of work is finding out things about people that you otherwise would have never known. Sheila told us about her charitable endeavor, which is no big surprise really. Many artists have charities. It’s a widely recognized tax shelter. But this one goes much deeper than that. Way deep!
“People can go online to my foundation,” she explained. “It’s called elevatehope.org. We raise money and use that to bring music to children in foster care. It’s to give them tools and give them hope to be creative and express themselves. One reason that’s important to me is because my Dad, for a couple years, he was left in an orphanage. Early on he put all our instruments in the car and said ‘As bad as we have it, even though we’re on welfare there’s always someone who is worse off than we are. So, let’s just go to these facilities and play for the kids and give them something. I know how it feels.’ My manager and I did Elevate Hope together. We found that the more people we talked to, more than half were molested or raped. I was raped at the age of 5 by a babysitter, and she was molested as well. Music was one of the healing parts of my life. It’s not like a book that we just read. We understand because we went through the same things. We know how music helped us to heal. Some of them have been so abused that they don’t know how to communicate and they don’t know how to express themselves. Music is a speaking piece for them to allow them to break down those barriers and those walls.”
If you want to catch Sheila at the Playboy Jazz Festival, along with Ramsey Lewis, Boney James, Robin Thicke, the Dap Kings and many, many others, there’s still chance. The fun doesn’t start until June 16th and runs through the 17th. Log onto www.elevatehope.org to find out how you can help bring music to a child who really needs it.
*As previously reported, Gloria Gaynor, Gladys Knight, Thelma Houston and Sheila E. were due to honor the late Donna Summer during Wednesday’s “American Idol” finale, but the all-star moment never happened – with zero explanation from producers.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the salute, which also included Jennifer Holliday and Nelly Furtado, was scheduled for the first half of the two-hour show, but was pulled last-minute by the network.
Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe tells THR that the reason the medley was cut was “purely and simply time [constraints].”
However, some in the audience had seen a portion of the tribute taped at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theater on Tuesday, when Kristin Chenoweth and “Idol” runner-up Jessica Sanchez teamed for “Enough is Enough,” Summer’s chart-topping single with Barbra Streisand. The performance was described by one observer as “weak,” notes THR.
Some of the tribute participants were also heard rehearsing a medley on Tuesday night. In fact, according to a THR source, “Idol” had already paid for several of the artists’ travel and accommodations. Still, another insider tells THR that at least one of the women — Furtado — was never confirmed for the finale in the first place.
In related news, ratings for this year’s “American Idol” finale were the lowest in its 11-year history – and down 32% compared to season 10′s last show.
American Idol finalists Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez
*Tonight’s “American Idol” season 11 finale will feature all-star musical tributes to the late Donna Summer and Robin Gibb.
Helping the contestants translate Summer’s classic songbook (the disco queen appeared on the season 7 finale) will be a group performance with ’70s icons Gloria Gaynor, Thelma Houston and Gladys Knight joined by Nelly Furtado, Sheila E., Jennifer Holliday and, of course, the Season 11 girls (later in the show, they perform with Chaka Khan).
In addition, Broadway and “Glee” star Kristin Chenoweth will trade vocals with finalist Jessica Sanchez on the Summer-Barbra Streisand girl power anthem, “Enough is Enough.”
Among the other stars set to perform with the finalists are John Fogerty, who will duet with Phillip Phillips, Reba McEntire, who will kick up her boots with Skylar Laine and the long-awaited Fantasia-Mantasia mash-up for second runner-up Joshua Ledet.
Sanchez will join “Dreamgirls” soul-mate Holliday for an encore performance of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” and the boys will sing with Neil Diamond for yet another group number.
Latin superstars Wisin and Yendel will salsa with touring partner and “Idol” judge Jennifer Lopez, while Hollie Cavanagh will team with Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks for a Broadway show tune.
Previously announced performers include hitmaker Rihanna and rockers Aerosmith.
The season finale airs tonight from 8 to 10:07 p.m. on FOX.