A special thanks goes out to Sheila E. for sharing with First Class Fashionista’s readers!
Remember when “First Class Fashionista” went to Hollywood for the “Special Behind the Scenes Look at the Avon Voices Singing Talent Search“, and to meet the 23 semi-finalist and celebrity judges? Well, we landed an interview with the legendary, iconic female drummer, Avon Voice’s Celebrity Judge Sheila E. Sheila E. is an artist from Oakland, California who is best known for her work with Prince, which includes 80s chart topping hits “The Glamorous Life” and “Love Bizarre”. However, as noted by many authors, Sheila E is an artist in her own right who broke ground and paved the way for female percussionists.
Sheila E. was Prince’s drummer for two years before launching her solo career. Prince and Sheila still reunite to perform– And that’s hot! I didn’t ask, but I heard Prince and Sheila were more than just friends.
Sheila E’s Bio As Written for the “Avon Voices Talent Search” (Interview with First Class Fashionista below!):
Sheila Escovedo, best known to music fans as Sheila E., is one of the most talented percussionist/drummers and performers in the world. She was honored with nominations for an American Music Award, a Grammy, and an Emmy. Sheila picked up the drumsticks and began making music at the precocious age of three while watching her legendary father, percussionist Pete Escovedo, rehearse. She delivered her first solo performance to a live audience two years later, and became a top session and touring musician before the age of 20. Sheila E. has performed and/or recorded with Prince, Ringo Starr, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, Babyface, Patti LaBelle, Stevie Nicks, Phil Collins, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Billy Cobham, and Con Funk Shun. In the 1980s, Sheila recorded the mega-hits “The Glamorous Life” and “Love Bizarre,” and contributed to the “We Are The World” recording session. Sheila E’s friend Prince and her pivotal work on Prince-related projects helped to catapult her to international super-popstar stardom. In recent years, Sheila has been working behind the scenes as musical director for Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, and Prince. Her producing and arranging talents have been showcased on the Latin Grammy Awards, Summer Olympics, WOW Awards, American Latin Music Awards, the Image Awards and American Idol.
Watch and listen for Sheila E’s mention and solo with Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez on the season finale of “American Idol”!
BTW, it’s really sad to hear that the sexiest couple in Hollywood, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, called it quits– And the JLO / Marc Anthony split is heating up and getting even hotter than this performance on American Idol. With fraternal twins Max and Emme at the center, we wish this family the best of the best of luck!
NOW Sheila E. Interview with First Class Fashionista!
First Class Fashionista: What do you think about the talent search so far?
Sheila E: The Avon Voices talent search is beyond my expectations. The women from across the world that has entered this competition are very talented and I’m so glad we have some new fresh up and coming entertainers.
First Class Fashionista: Why did you choose to partner with Avon Voices talent search as a celebrity judge?
Sheila E: I wanted to partner with Avon Voices because I am for supporting women in the industry and mentoring women from all parts of the world. To be able to lend a hand, offer support from my own experience is giving back in my opinion. Many artist get rapped up in their own lives and forget that there are others (who support them no less) who can benefit greatly from just one minute of their time.
First Class Fashionista: My mother was an Avon representative and as a young military wife, I sold Avon to supplement my families income too. Now, Avon Voices has extended its reach and is empowering talented young women from all around the world.
What do you think about Avon’s impact on women and the community?
Sheila E: Avon has already made its mark with their unique way of providing beauty through their product lines. So it was a nice fit for them to honor the very women they serve by wanting to discover the next Avon Voice.
What do you think about Avon Voice’s global impact on women and the music industry?
Sheila E: I think that it’s a perfect fit. Avon has reached women from all over the world and has positively enhanced their lives by acknowledging that all women have more than beauty from the outside, but are gifted from the inside. Music is one of those fundamental gifts that most women embrace.
First Class Fashionista: You are a music icon, you broke ground in the 80s and paved the way for female drummers.
What were some of the challenges you faced?
Sheila E: Some of the most difficult challenges I faced as a woman is being taken seriously being a woman drummer. Men drummers were often in denial about my ability. Some felt that I must have slept my way into being recognized or accepted. Not until they heard me for themselves did they realize my passion and ability.
What advice would you give the women in this competition, women from all around the world, about believing in themselves, following their dreams and a chance to change the world?
Sheila E: My advice to every contestant is to follow their passion. If singing is what they truly love from the bottom of their hearts and very soul, then never give up. To not try to be someone else that they may admire, but find the unique individual within themselves. And to realize there is ALWAYS something to learn. Learning is growth, and growth is powerful!
First Class Fashionista: Born and raised in Oakland California, you even attended Oakland High School, I understand you are not only working behind the scenes as a music director for mega stars but you are still taking time out to give back to bay area communities.
Can you tell us about your music programs and charities?
Sheila E: My manager Lynn Mabry and I co-founded The Elevate Hope Foundation to provide and promote music and arts education for at risk youth and victims of child abuse. In doing so, we’ve been able to raise and donate funds and instruments to schools and facilities that offer the arts to children when normally it’s dormant or being systematically taken out. We’ve created unique music and video production based curriculum at Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services in Los Angeles for its very effective Arts Enrichment program, and donated musical instruments, audio & video equipment so that children are able to have hands on experience that allows them to not only learn but express themselves in ways they only dreamed of. We’ve recently donated thousands of dollars and the same in musical equipment to “Keep Music Rockin Foundation” to support the San Leandro Unified School District, of which is being slammed with budget cuts and the first to go, of course, are music classes.
E Family Performances?
Sheila E: My father Pete Escovedo has always supported children in foster care by performing and or donating instruments. As a family, we’ve done so in the early years, and currently continue to give as much as we can for various charities.
First Class Fashionista: In the 80s, you were a celebrity fashion trendsetter styling ruffles, lace and big hair.
What do you think about celebrities, like Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna, who take fashion risks today?
Sheila E: Young talented women today are spending far too much energy on being sexual and explicit in their shows and persona. I think it’s a smoke screen. It was a huge revelation when I realized that my craft had nothing to do with what I was wearing or how I looked. I certainly pushed the envelope in my day. Anticipating what the trades were saying about my playing, one reported that he was looking forward to what I was “not” wearing. And to make matters more detrimental, I began to see more and more young girls dressing like me. It stopped me cold. What type of message and or example was I offering? When an artist realizes that their gift comes from God; maturity, class, and sensitivity will follow in everything they do. I look forward to seeing music being the focus of every artist’s performance. I look forward to femininity coming back to the stage and screen.
Check out or interview with Joe Billone, Avon’s Vice President of Global Communications.