BWW Interview: Sheila E. of WE STAND TOGETHER Uses Her Musical Talents to Effect Change for Racial Justice
Musician and Activist Sheila E.

We Stand Collectively, a one-night digital profit in assist of justice for Black lives, will premiere at 7:00pm PDT on Thursday, July 23rd on each Youtube and Fb. It is going to embrace appearances by Sheila E., Mahershala Ali, Misty Copeland, Ledisi and a bunch of different high artists, activists and neighborhood figures. Whereas occasion is freed from cost, donations are inspired. Funds raised will profit three organizations: Elevate Oakland, YR Media and Black Lives Matter World Community [Arts & Culture]. For extra data, please go to

We Stand Collectively facilities on the collective perception within the energy of music and artwork to uplift and empower marginalized communities and act as a connection level to coach viewers on the intersection of artwork, tradition and politics. This selection particular will honor Black and non-Black POC creatives in communities in all places by that includes music performances, speaker segments, nonprofit group highlights and extra, interwoven to create an unforgettable expertise for viewers throughout the globe. All proceeds raised by way of viewer contributions will go immediately in the direction of a number of nationwide and native initiatives that heart on youth companies and direct assist for the motion to combat for freedom, liberation and justice for Black lives throughout the globe.

BroadwayWorld spoke lately with Sheila E. whereas she was within the midst of ultimate preparations for the occasion. Born into the legendary Escovedo household of musicians, she has had a prolonged and extremely diversified profession as a percussionist, singer, author and actor. Her debut album spawned the enduring hit “The Glamorous Life” and launched her profitable solo profession. As a percussionist, she has performed with such iconic artists as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and Ringo Starr. She can be recognized for her enduring partnership with Prince, together with touring with him as his drummer and musical director. In dialog, Sheila is unguarded and down-to-earth, and her ardour to make use of her musical abilities to impact change is obvious all through. The next dialog has been edited for size and readability.

How did the concept for We Stand Collectively come about?

Within the occasions we’re in proper now, the necessity is nice to maintain our youth educated, carry consciousness to Black Lives Matter, and hold music and humanities training going. Proper now we do not know the state by which our children are going to go to highschool, so we need to hold on-line lessons going. We use native musicians right here within the Bay Space and rent them to go in [during] regular college hours and educate lessons, educate the historical past of music, of hip hop, Gospel, enjoying guitar, drums, no matter they need to study. We really ask them each semester, what would you prefer to study? The necessity was nice and this was why we mentioned “We stand collectively.” We have to come collectively and uplift our communities in each metropolis, not simply the Bay Space.

How will the occasion itself happen? Will the artists be performing reside?

A few of us are performing reside. There was nobody within the membership, we solely had digicam crew, my band and a few techs. We’re gonna stream reside from Yoshi’s, Freddie Stone got here in reside, the Tony!Toni!Tone! got here in reside, my dad and my brother (Pops and Juan Escovedo) got here in reside. Everybody else, I had them to videotape themselves, in order that we are able to play with them and really carry out. The primary time that the band hears the music with the opposite performers shall be throughout the rehearsal sound test. I had them videotape themselves so to see that they are enjoying in actual time and we’re really enjoying the music with them. It is actually cool!

I have not seen that completed earlier than.

I hope it really works! [laughs] That is all new to us, you already know?

That is fairly a lineup you’ve scheduled! Did you have already got present connections with all these artists?

Most of them. Mahershala Ali, Joe Koy, Damian Lillard I had by no means met earlier than. Everybody else I do know. We hope to probably do one other one and hopefully we are able to do it reside for actual as a result of will not nonetheless be at dwelling. Music has been the instrument for everybody to get by way of this pandemic. Music brings individuals collectively and it is a time that we as artists have been capable of assist individuals get by way of these occasions as a result of there’s some individuals of their properties by themselves, they usually’re going loopy. Even these of us at dwelling with our households, it is nonetheless very difficult.

While you burst onto the nationwide scene again within the 80’s, I beloved your music, however I used to be additionally impressed by what you represented as a robust, horny lady of coloration who gave the impression to be answerable for her picture. Is that true? Did you even have management of the way you have been introduced?

I did. I knew that I all the time needed to hopefully at some point do an album, and I used to be so blissful to have the ability to accomplish that. I mentioned “Look, that is my one likelihood to indicate everybody.” I imply, earlier than I grew to become Sheila E., I dressed like that anyway. I had individuals within the Bay Space, trigger I grew up right here and began my profession right here, creating wardrobe for me and I might design a few of my garments even again then within the 70’s.

After I noticed you on tv, like on the Grammys or no matter, you did not appear to me to be pre-packaged in any manner. It appeared such as you have been being the particular person you needed to be.

I definitely was. I’ve all the time been simply me, that is all I understand how to be. [laughs] And that is the factor, you already know rising up in a musical household. Watching and being round individuals like my dad and his mates, I did not know that they have been celebrities and well-known. I discovered how one can be a frontrunner watching my dad, the way you deal with your bandmates, that mainly we needs to be household and all be handled equally. I am nonetheless studying stuff. Day by day I study one thing new about how one can change how I’m, what I can do in a different way, or from making errors, so long as I fail ahead, persevering with to be a pupil at no matter age.

You are one of many only a few feminine percussionists to have a high-profile profession. After all, you adopted in your dad’s footsteps, however the musicians you grew up with have been largely males, proper?

Oh, all of them!

Did you ever assume to your self, “I am a woman. I am unable to try this.”?

No. My mother and father by no means introduced that to my consideration, ever. The primary time I began listening to that mentioned to me was after I began flying from Oakland to Los Angeles and began enjoying with different artists that did not know me. They knew that I might play, however then the opposite individuals within the band have been like, “Nicely, the place did you come from? The place did you study to play? Women do not play drums.” And I am like “However it’s regular to me.” Rising up, I might ask a few of my mates in class, “Do you’ve drums? The place are your percussion devices?” They usually’re like….??? [laughs] I simply thought it was regular. I used to be introduced up that manner. It is who we’re, and I did not know any completely different till I left dwelling.

And also you have been additionally actually younger while you have been enjoying these session dates with all these guys, in order that should have been a visit.

Oh, very younger. I began professionally with my dad at 15 years previous going out on tour.

Which additionally explains why you appear to be so snug onstage.


You carried out along with your dad, Pete Escovedo, on the White Home garden in 2009 for the Fiesta Latina.

Sure, Obama was in workplace and it was a tremendous night. I used to be one of many producers and musical administrators of the present and being part of that was a particular second. George Lopez and Eva Longoria have been the hosts. We acquired to fulfill Michelle and Barak – they usually need you to name them Michelle and Barak, by the way in which – and take photos with them earlier than we performed. And it was humorous as a result of George got here out at that starting and mentioned, “I am unable to consider it! We have got all these Mexicans and other people of coloration right here. We lastly made it to the White Home.” He mentioned, “Nicely, us Mexicans actually did not make it into the White Home, they put us on the garden. What’s that about?!”

BWW Interview: Sheila E. of WE STAND TOGETHER Uses Her Musical Talents to Effect Change for Racial Justice
The Escovedo Household in efficiency, fronted by Sheila and Pete

A few months in the past, you launched a brand new track, “Lemon Cake.” Is {that a} signal you are engaged on a brand new album?

I am all the time engaged on a brand new album. [laughs] Which is superior, to only proceed to hopefully create and experiment within the studio with completely different sounds, completely different tales, completely different devices. There have been occasions after I could not write something, it was simply clean. You get to a spot the place you go “How come I am unable to consider something?” It has to come back out of your coronary heart and it’s a must to reside it. I have been very inventive in these occasions proper now. Numerous issues have been in my secret vault for a very long time and I am lastly releasing a few of these songs and ending them. One in all my bucket record issues was to do 5 albums at one time with 5 completely different genres of music, which is type of who I’m. Proper now I am simply delivering singles trigger plenty of issues are happening, we did the [drumming & percussion] Masterclass that simply got here out. I simply launched one other single final week and have 4 extra prepared to come back out and we have shot movies. So I am simply at dwelling you already know creating and collaborating with individuals and having fun with the time I am spending with my household.

You are clearly not new to the trigger. Does the present groundswell of activism round racial justice points really feel completely different to you? Do you consider that we’ll see some significant change?

I am hopeful. There are days after I’m discouraged, offended, unhappy. Each emotion attainable I believe I’ve gone by way of and proceed to undergo. I’ve to sit down and take into consideration how can I assist to be part of change, to assist create change, for my voice to be heard but in addition to encourage others for his or her voices to be heard. I am being trustworthy, there are occasions the place I am simply offended and I sit right here and it forces me to say “I gotta stand up and hold going and I’ve to assist others” We’ve to do that in a manner that change is actually going to occur. So I am hopeful.

(Photographs courtesy of We Stand Collectively)

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