“MUSIC is life, living and love: Entrevista con Sheila E”

 “ Quiero tocar la batería y los tambores hasta que muera. Tengo 54 años y mi cuerpo  está cambiando. Pero quiero tocar hasta que mi cuerpo me lo permita.”

 

“I will play until I die.  I am 54 years old.

My body is slowing down.  But

I will play as long as my body allows it.”

– Sheila E.

 

When Sheila E. plays the drums her soul smiles and makes everyone smile because of her prodigious talent.

 The first time I had the privilege of seeing her perform live was when she received “The Pursuit of Perfection Award” from Lexus as a memorable evening of Poesía y Percusión.

 I watched her performance in awe; her voice mesmerizing my senses and her beauty -her perfectly toned body- made me hopeful for such vitality at that stage in my life.  Her glowing face and her words of gratitude revealed an artist who is having the best time of her life.

Being the feminist that I am – I must confess- I felt empowered by her talent and her presence: the woman, the survivor, the drummer and the philanthropist.  All in one. The cosmic force of the feminine psyche.

 She has done it all, except get married, something she still deeply desires to have happen:

“That is the one thing I still want to do. I want to get married.  If you know someone, one of your friends [she laughs]…

When asked about her years at the top when fame overshadowed her existence, she confessed: “During those times you got to pay your dues. I did all the press I could. I traveled to be interviewed by every major media outlet in Europe. But it was very strange. It all happened pretty quickly. I created this whole image based on sex and not focused on my music because I thought that was what was needed for me to sell my albums…. Later, I realized that my music is what is really important.”

Fame, it seems created a chasm between what was truly important in life and her career.  She realized later that money is not as important as having the right people in your life: “Money does not buy happiness. Family is truly important… a precious treasure.”

Sheila E. hails from a  legendary family.  On that special evening, Pete Escovedo, her father, and her brothers came onto the stage to play with her. That’s what they do best: They play together to stay together. One can only imagine Sheila E. growing up surrounded by music where a burning passion was instilled by her parents, a musical dynasty that includes the great timbalero Tito Puente.

Sheila E’s Elevate Hope Foundation was the highlight of the evening.  Her belief that the arts can be healing for children and youth in the foster care system is a very big part of her life. She knows it from personal experience.

What most people don’t know about Sheila E. is that she was abused as a child.  Elevate Hope is her unique way to give confidence and teach these young people how to communicate and to have hope in their lives through the arts and music. Talking about child abuse and this traumatic episode in her own life she said: “Parents should always watch their children and ask them. Is anyone bothering you? So that line of communication is open. Parents must always look for signs like withdrawal, solitude, acting out, extreme anger, and parents must make it clear to their children that they can trust them”.

Abuse and health issues have been the two main issues that have caused Sheila E. to have a significant spiritual transformation: “My life was falling apart. I was angry all the time. I had a problem with my lungs then my back. I could not walk for two weeks, then for 6 months. I was sick for a full year. I told God: If you get me through this, I will use the gift you gave me.”

Ever since, she has not looked back. Sheila E. knows now what is truly important: “Making someone happy everyday is my most important goal.”

She says that ALEGRIA is a lot of things: music, people…

Everyday, when I wake up I thank God for another wonderful day; I am joyful about the rest of the day. To be here is a blessing, especially if we can help someone in our lives.

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