Sheila E Kicks-off Zoellner Arts Center’s 19th Season on Saturday, September 12

Aug 17th, 2015Press Release from Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University

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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 8/14/15   Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University welcomes superstar percussionist Sheila E as the 2015-2016 season opener on September 12, 2015 at 8 pm. Stay for the free post-show after party! Zoellner Arts Center recognizes corporate performance sponsor: Sodexo and media sponsor: Ola radio 1400.  Tickets are $58/48/38 and available at or by calling 610-758-2787, ext. 0.

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” is a fearless multi-instrumentalist, as well as an actress, mentor, and philanthropist.

Family, faith and music were guiding forces for Sheila E. growing up in the Bay Area. In addition to percussionist dad Pete, the Oakland, Calif. native counts former Santana member/Azteca founder Coke Escovedo, solo recording artist Alejandro Escovedo, The Dragons front man Mario Escovedo and from The Zeroes Javier Escovedo  as uncles. Fellow Latin star Tito Puente was her godfather. In addition to being weaned on Latin jazz and Motown, Sheila E. was exposed to a diverse array of Bay Area acts and artists. Those influences ranged from the rock of Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead to the R&B/pop of the Pointer Sisters and the funk of Tower of Power and Sly & the Family Stone. “I used to sit on the corner outside of the local community center with Twinkies and 7-Up listening to Tower of Power, Sly and Larry Graham rehearse,” recalls Sheila E. “The sounds of the Bay Area molded me.”

So it’s no surprise that after such a music-immersive childhood, the gifted percussionist began amassing an impressive string of credits playing not only with her dad but also with pioneering talents like George Duke, Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie and Herbie Hancock. Following a Bay Area gig in the late ‘70s, Sheila E. met Prince backstage. Their Purple Rain recording sessions—including her vocals on the 1984 classic “Erotic City”—morphed into launching her solo career that same year. Debut album The Glamorous Life spun off the Grammy Award-nominated top 10 hit of the same name plus a second top 40 single “The Belle of St. Mark.”  Between her ‘80s tenure as drummer, songwriter and musical director for Prince’s backup band, Sheila E. released three more solo albums (Romance 1600, Sheila E. and Sex Cymbal) and scored two more classic hits with “A Love Bizarre” and “Hold Me” a romantic ballad. After taking some time away from the spotlight, she then decided to tap into her Latin Jazz roots and under the name E-Train, released (Writes of Passage and Heaven).

Sheila E.’s fierce, dynamic verve onstage has made her a major concert draw since the ‘90s. Along the way, she has acted in several films (“Krush Groove,” “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane,” “Chasing Papi”) and launched various music projects (E Train, The E Family).  Adding to her arsenal of credits such names as Ringo Starr (as a member of Ringo Starr’s All Star Band in 2001, 2003 and 2006), Gloria Estefan and Beyoncé as well as performing on the 2012 Academy Awards with pop hitmaker Pharrell Williams and composer Hans Zimmer. She was the first female Music Director for a late night talk show (“The Magic Hour” with Magic Johnson) and received an Emmy® nomination as Musical Director for “Fiesta Latina – A Performance at The White House.”  Sheila E. was recently among the roster of stars chosen to perform at the Kennedy Center Honors whose 2013 honorees included artists Herbie Hancock, Billy Joel and Carlos Santana.

Away from the spotlight, music doubles as a source of healing and giving back for Sheila E. In tandem with the city of Oakland, she staged the first annual “Elevate Oakland” benefit concert in February of 2014.  A host of Bay Area artists and other acclaimed musicians performed at the city-donated Fox Theatre. The goal: to raise funds to improve student academic achievement and attendance through music and arts programming. But this isn’t Sheila E.’s first time giving back. Between gigs, she has also crisscrossed the country, speaking at schools and colleges, shelters, church organizations, music classes and clinics about music’s effect on her life and career. “Sharing music in any way I can is my ministry,” she says.

And that was part of the inspiration for penning the autobiography “The Beat of My Own Drum.” Several years ago Sheila E. publicly acknowledged she was an abuse survivor.

“The book was the beginning of the healing,” says Sheila E. “I’d talked about the abuse in my ministry and addressed it in some of the song lyrics I’d written. But it was challenging to sit down and really write about it in detail for the book. But through pain comes realization, understanding and the opportunity to help others overcome those challenges.”

With no Google or YouTube artist script to follow back then, she says her career drive was propelled by one thing: “I just did it because I loved it. And that’s what Icon represents. I started all this as Sheila Escovedo then became this persona named Sheila E. Now Sheila E. and Sheila Escovedo are the same person, still making music that comes from the heart.”

Tickets for the September 12 performance at 8:00pm are $58/48/38.  For tickets, call 610-758-2787 (7LU-ARTS), visit Zoellner Ticket Services Tuesday 12-6pm, Wednedsay- Friday 12-5pm, or 90 minutes before curtain ticketed events or order online at  Senior, student, group and LVAIC discounts are available.


Contact: Z. Candi Staurinos, Director of Advertising & Public Relations
610-758-3414 | ude.hgihelnull@2scz

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