On Sunday night, May 20, the legendary Sheila E. will be the musical headliner at Long Beach Pride. Ms. Escovedo, best known for her onstage and in-studio collaborations with Prince, is the daughter of percussionist Pete Escovedo and goddaughter of Latin jazz king Tito Puente. She is currently touring behind her latest album, “Iconic,” and was gracious enough to take time to answer a few questions for the Long Beach Post.
Long Beach Post: You radiate joy when you play. What do you love about music?
Sheila E.: It gives me life, love and an extremely strong connection to the people I call my family. I’m blessed this is my gift and passion.
LBP: You’re as amazing on the drum kit as you are on the timbales. Who are some of your favorite drummers, and why?
Sheila: I first listened to Buddy Rich at 9 years old. The album he performed that is a collaboration with Sammy Davis Junior, live in Las Vegas: It was pretty awesome. The second biggest lesson was one of the most important and that was Billy Cobham. He came into my life when I was around 14 or 15 years old. To be able to sit at his side and watch him was like being in the most exclusive college ever. Then my love for other drummers grew: Tony Williams, Harvey Mason, Dennis Chambers and more.
LBP: How would you describe Prince’s influence on your music?
Sheila: Like ketchup and mustard, peanut butter and jelly. We were a match made in heaven. We continually influenced each other, each learning new music and growing together.
LBP: You are a torch-bearer of the timbal tradition. Do you see many young players coming up to carry it into future generations?
Sheila: There are many great percussionists and drummers, some as young as three years old, that play extremely well. It is so humbling to see people post and tweet their young ones to share with me how they are influenced by what I do at such a young age and would like to be like me. I’m honored.
LBP: You’re the Sunday night headliner at this year’s Long Beach Pride. What should we expect?
Sheila: Expect a lot of love, life, passion, dancing and audience participation. We are truly excited to be part of this event. Thank you. God bless.
Long Beach Pride concert venue photo by Matt Cohn. Sheila E. photo courtesy of Kimberly Jakwerth.