As if we needed a reason to celebrate living in Southern Florida while the rest of the nation dips into the 20 and 30 degree temperature brackets, we will thank the sun gods this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on Fort Lauderdale Beach with the annual Riptide Music Festival.
Last year was the first year I went, thinking it would be okay, but it was more than okay. Laid back attitudes, beach chair sitting, surprising food offerings, and amazing music were all part of the 2017 celebration. Looking at this year’s schedule, it’s going to be even better.
Expanding to three nights this year, Riptide Music Festival starts off with some heavy hitters.
I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with one of those iconic performers, singer, author, actress – The Queen of Percussion – Sheila E.
The following text is paraphrased from our interview with the fabulous Sheila E. She has been evacuated from her home because of the California forest fires. The mandatory evacuation was lifted and she was more than accommodating and gave us the time to complete our interview before she went back to see how her home was after the ordeal.
Instinct: I wanted to start off talking about two of the influential people in your life, your father and mother. Pete Escovedo – He has a great career of his own. He’s 83, performed at the White house in 2009. How is he doing and are you still performing with him?
Sheila E: The White House at that time was an amazing place to be. To be asked to play there and I was asked and did produce the show. I performed with him [dad] just weeks ago and will perform with him again soon. That performance will also include Juan and Peter Michael, my brothers. He’ll be in Dallas soon. That’s half way across the country, far enough for him to travel. Fort Lauderdale was just a little too far
Your mother is Creole-French/African mix, and your father is of Mexican origin. Do those aspects influence your music?
Best combo in the world. We’re talking gumbo and tacos mixed together. The mix of culture, food, people, you can’t get a better mix. My mother is a take charge person and that is where I learned to be a leader, learned that it was okay to do things no one else has done before. Gardere is my mom’s maiden name. Most of the Garderes were athletes. Up until I was 15, my life was as an athlete.
By your early 20s, you had already played with George Duke, Lionel Richie, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, and Diana Ross, Pattie Labelle, Stevie Nicks. Were you pinching yourself? How was your confidence level? Were you like, “I got this”?
When you grow up with people at the house like Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, … dad was playing with some of the greats of that time and they were jamming at my house. Jazz and R & B are different when you are listening to phenomenal artists playing at your home, different than listening to performers you’ve been listening to on the radio. Yes, I was star struck with some that had never been to the house. But most of the time, I didn’t know any better.
I paraphrased the information below (from Wikipedia) with Sheila E …
1989–92: Sex Cymbal
After leaving the Prince organization in 1989, Sheila E. collaborated with writers like Demetrius Ross, recorded and released an album, Sex Cymbal in 1991. The album spawned singles: “Sex Cymbal”, “Dropping Like Flies”, and “Cry Baby”. She began her tour in Japan which only lasted for a brief time. Shortly after returning to America, she developed severe health issues after her lung collapsed. She was left semi-paralyzed from playing drums in heels for long periods of time over a course of past years. Unable to promote and tour, her album Sex Cymbal suffered low sales.
… and I ask the Queen of Percussion … how is everything now? Any residuals from that scare?
I am fully recovered from that time frame. At that time, it was one thing after another. An acupuncture accident resulted in a punctured lung. The results of that incident came during the Sex Cymbal mastering, and that just puts you down mentally. When you had this “I can do anything” mentality, being like that is foreign to you, and mentally, you have to power through and tell yourself you will be fine, and realize the odds of it happening again. Also during that time I was dealing with my calf muscles that where shortened, well twisted, because of all of my performances, drumming while in heels. I could not walk for two weeks. Then there was a 4-month recovery.
What was going through your mind? Those damn high heels!
I don’t perform in high heels anymore. I did one time after that for the David Letterman Drum Solo Week in 2011. I felt I needed to definitely represent on that show as I was honored to be asked to perform.
Phil Collins, Ringo Starr, Prince, Beyoncee, Gloria Estefan, Pharell Williams. Such great artists again that you have performed with. Is there anyone left? Who is it that you would love to perform with that you have not yet?
Bruno Mars maybe. We would have a great time together. He kind of reminds me of things I did do when I was younger, he’s bringing back a lot of the music, the music styles. He has sucha great energy on stage. We would do well. Gaga would be great, too.
In 2009, Sheila E. participated and won the CMT reality show, Gone Country. This gave her an opportunity to make country music aided by the country producer, writer, and singer John Rich. Sheila E.’s first song in the country market was “Glorious Train”. A video for the song debuted on CMT on March 7, 2009, following the airing of the episode of Gone Country in which Sheila E. was announced the winner.
How did you end up in the Gone Country house?
Don’t say never – I hardly ever do, so I said yes to being in a house with a bunch of people, no idea who was in the house, but I was going to come out with an opportunity to write and cowrite with other writers from Nashville. I love their story telling from Nashville. Some of the best story tellers/writers are in Nashville. So if you win, the incentive is that you get to write with artists from Nashville. My mentality was that I’m not going to do this unless I am going to win and the experience taught me a lot. Uncle George Clinton was in the house, I didn’t know anyone that was going to be there, except for Taylor Dayne. I saw so many things I would never do, and there were some things that were off limits. I told the producers that when I was to pray and have my bible and be with God, that was my time, my personal time away from the 80 cameras.
I didn’t phrase this question well, but I wanted to ask Sheila E about the difference between The Latin Grammy Awards, BET Awards, and The American Music Awards as she has been a part of all of them. My question was roughly, what are the difference as a performer/artists do you see with these awards and markets.
Reggaeton, everyone is trying to a bit of that. I definitely see that. If you get into the Latin market, that’s five times bigger than US, and Latin American music crosses all genres, Argentinian, Puerto Rican, Peru, Brazil, Chile, so many places for the Latin community, and you don’t have to be Latin. I signed as an R&B performer and crossed over to pop.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (March 21, 2018) – Acclaimed musician Sheila E. is set to perform at 35th Annual Long Beach Pride Festival at 8 p.m. on May 20 at the event’s main stage. The festival will take place from May 19 to 20 at Shoreline Marina, Green Park, 450 E. Shoreline Drive, Long Beach CA 90802.
How was performing at Long Beach Pride earlier this year?
One thought was that it was getting pretty late. I don’t like to close. I like to be in the middle of the schedule. Sheila would rather go on in the middle. I don’t want to headline. I still had a great time. I had some friends there and of course the fans.
From an earlier interview about performing at Long Beach Pride, Sheila E. stated:
Are you kidding me? It’s going to be one huge party and I’m so excited! You know, people are people and music can change people’s lives and bring them together. I always say it brings gay, straight, black, white, whatever ethnicity, where you come from or who you love…music brings people together. – ragemonthly.com
You’ve performed in a great many places with a variety of people. If you could play another concert all over again, if you could perform that one amazing concert again, which one would it be.
It would be the first time I played with dad at age 15. That is the moment that changed my life. Him allowing me to be in a group with CBD, opening for earth wind and fire. One of the percussionists was out and I wanted to play. Mom said to my dad that I knew the music, which I did. He came around and said yes. I was playing in front of 3,000 people for the very first time, then I remember dad saying “take a solo.” I was shaking and crying while finishing the solo. I’ve competed most of my life, I thrive on it, this was just different. That was heaven and I wanted to feel like that every day. After, we hugged and cried and I knew right then and there that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Two weeks later, I was on tour with the band and dad in Bogota, Colombia.
Going back to your faith and the fact that I write for an LGBTQ lifestyles magazine, I do want to touch on what you think about churches turning away LGBT people looking to practice their faith or just turning them away “politically”
This is my belief: God created all of us. God did not say he doesn’t love someone. God loves all people. You are supposed to be able to go to church and be accepted for help, a spiritual thing if someone needs something. People seeking out a church, they want to be a part of that place, to love God, understand God. Every single person should be able to go to a church and be accepted. It is awful to turn away people from God.
Stars, musicians often are told to stick to music and not politics. Musicians (like Taylor Swift) and movie stars should not be sharing their political opinions. Thoughts?
Out of the realm of music often comes political views and faith. We have the Freedom of Speech, what we feel, believe in, it is out of love, you can follow me or not. Jesus is my lord and savior, I am a democrat, I have in the past voted for republicans, I vote for the person who is capable of doing the job. I cannot talk to you because you are an atheist? We have a responsibility and the ability to share what we feel. People are influenced by what they want to be influenced by. I think it is hard to always to be positive and challenging especially in the times we are in when so many things are bad, the administration is a joke, it makes me sick to my stomach, I refuse to accept, I have a right to say that, I do.
Thank you for your time. I still cannot believe you still wanted to do this interview with Instinct after you were told you could go back to your home you were forced to evacuate. I had a great time and I love you even more.
I think Sheila E. might have said I love you too or that’s sweet or something like that. I was still recovering from her “If you could play another concert all over again” answer and the fact that my questions were keeping her from going to see her home.
We’re looking forward to seeing Sheila E. and the rest of the performers at Riptide Music Festival this weekend.
To pregame for the interview, I rewatched Sheila E’s appearance on The View and her performance with her family at the Democratic National Convention.
Sheila Escovedo picked up the drumsticks and started making music at the precocious age of three, delivered her first solo performance to a live audience two years later, and has since established herself as one of the most talented percussionist/drummers and performers in the world. Best known to music fans as Sheila E., she became a top session and touring musician before the age of 20, performing and/or recording with George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Billy Cobham, Con Funk Shun, Marvin Gaye (on his final world tour), Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, Patti LaBelle, and Steve Nicks among others.
Sheila E.’s producing, arranging, and performance talents have been showcased throughout the music and film industry with appearances on The Academy Awards, The Latin Grammy Awards, BET Awards, The American Music Awards, The Kennedy Center Honors, The Summer Olympics, WOW Awards, ALMA’s, and The Image Awards just to name a few. In 2014, Sheila released her literary biography Titled The Beat of My Own Drum, and her solo album, ICON. Following Prince’s death she released the single Girl Meets Boy in memory of the late, great, Prince.