Band Name/Artist Name: Sheila E.
Album Name: Icon
Music Style: Pop
Album Name: Icon
Music Style: Pop
One of life’s constants for Sheila E. comes down to a simple phrase: follow the beat. And her impeccable inner rhythm is the pulse behind a trailblazing career that still knows no bounds.World-class drummer and percussionist whose credits read like chapters in a music history book: Ringo Starr. Marvin Gaye, Prince, Beyoncé, Herbie Hancock, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan and George Duke. Grammy Award-nominated singer/songwriter behind the seminal hits “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre.” A fearless multi-instrumentalist equally proficient on guitar and bass. Actress. Mentor. Philanthropist.
These career checkpoints all converge in 2014 with two new Sheila E. projects. Coming soon is the release of her first album in 13 years, the aptly titled Icon (Stiletto Flats, March 25, 2014). Then the indefatigable multi-talent will add author to her list of accomplishments with Simon & Schuster’s Fall 2014 publication of her autobiography, “And the Beat Goes On.”.
“The idea to record another solo album was actually spawned while I was writing the autobiography,” recalls Sheila E. “I realized that some of the things I was writing about should be a song. That’s when I also began looking back at songs I’d written several years earlier and forgotten about, but whose themes needed to be talked about in the book. Both fed each other.”.
As the musical half of Sheila E.’s storied life and career, Icon pulsates from start to finish with colorful fusions of the Latin, jazz, R&B, pop, funk and rock influences that shaped her unique style. The 13-track set opens with the soaring “Butterfly,” the first of four interludes that subtly yet powerfully illuminate the versatile talent behind the music. “’Butterfly’ reflects part of the journey in my book,” explains Sheila E., nicknamed butterfly by family friend Carlos Santana. “It’s who I am as a person. I always wanted to fly, to be the first female astronaut on the moon. It’s me running track, running free. That’s how I play.”.
The album takes off from there, with all songs produced live and in one or two takes. “I’m used to playing live,” says Sheila E., who also executive produced the project. “Why would I punch in my soul on a computer?” She unleashes that soul on the set’s first full track “Mona Lisa,” an energetic cut drawn from her Latin roots. Also joining Sheila E. on her musical reverie are two singular storytellers in their own right: singer/songwriter Ledisi and pioneering rapper MC Lyte. The latter’s signature edgy flow spices up the saucy, dues paying-themed “Nasty Thang,” which outlines the drama and glamour life in music. Ledisi adds a poignant touch to “Girl Like Me,” an honest yet empowering message about surviving abuse. An abuse survivor herself, Sheila E. originally penned the song to perform with her 2007 female band C.O.E.D. (Chronicles of Every Diva). That soul-searching continues on the mid-tempo “Who I Am Now.”.
Rounding out the set—which includes three songs written by guitarist Bobby G—is a new version of the funky tour de force “Leader of the Band.” This song features Sheila and the E Family Band (father Pete and brothers Peter Michael and Juan) as well her former mentor, Prince, on piano. “I love playing this song,” says Sheila E., “so I re-recorded it and left some of Prince on there. It’s about how I was influenced by my pops [the legendary Pete Escovedo] and [songwriter/producer/musician] George Duke. That a female can be in charge and bring it just as hard.”.