Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oh Sheila? (or, where is Sheila E?)

Over the weekend, while not researching The Famous Al Gunn, I heard Ready for the World's "Oh Sheila" on the radio. Now I was never really impressed with Ready for the World back in the day, since they appeared to have Prince's smuttiness without the talent. "(pant) (pant) (pant) Oh Sheila," indeed.

But that got me thinking about another Sheila (who is supposedly not the subject of the song) - Sheila E. Directly associated with Prince, she was popularly perceived as the one Prince female protege who actually had talent. She certainly had her hits, but like most pop stars, she faded from view a few years later.

Where did she end up?

Well, like any self-respecting musician, she has her own website, http://www.sheilae.com/. And while she may not be topping the charts any more, she's certainly active. She's been out my way recently, appearing at the Thornton Winery in Temecula in August. And back in February, she appeared with her father, Pete Escovedo, in a concert in Ventura. And she's also performing with the purple one. As of now, their European appearances are as follows:


October 18th
Bergen, Norway

October 20th
Copenhagen, Denmark

October 22nd
Herning, Denmark

November 2nd
Rome, Italy

November 3rd
Milan, Italy

Her biography fills in the missing years between her 80s stardom and today.

After taking several years off for health reasons, Sheila's next project, the E-Train, started in 1994. The band that played a mixture of soul, Latin jazz, funk, fusion and gospel toured in Europe in 1994, and finally released a CD, entitled "Writes of Passage" in 1998.

In 1998, Sheila became the first female bandleader on late night television on Magic Johnson's variety show "The Magic Hour," and she co-wrote and co-produced the late night show's theme song.

Sheila has played on countless albums, including the soundtrack to "Prince of Egypt," featuring Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, successful Japanese artist Namie Amuro (whom she also toured with in 1996 and 2002) and Gloria Estefan's hugely successful "Mi Tierra."

The complete biography is here. No word on whether Sheila officially played the conga when playing with Estefan. But the most interesting part of the bio was a cross-musical production with which I was not familiar.

Sheila E. participated in the third season of CMT's hit show, "Gone Country." With the goal of creating a hit country music single, each "Gone Country" cast member is uprooted to Nashville for an intense two-week challenge. Justin Guarini, Taylor Dayne, George Clinton, Tara Conner, Richard Grieco, and Micky Dolenz competed on the third season along with Sheila E. Each celebrity was paired with two of Nashville's finest songwriters with whom they wrote a country single. In addition to meeting with songwriters, the cast competed in challenges that tested them musically and physically to adapt to a life in country music, both on and off the stage. Sheila E. was the Grand Prize Winner of the third season and has gone on to release her first country single & video for her song, "Glorious Train.

When reading the cast list, all I can say is "wow." I still have to find George Clinton's country musings, but I did find "Glorious Train."

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