You’d probably assume that famed percussionist and Prince protege Sheila Escovito, better known by her stage name, Sheila E., is referring to music but she isn’t. Instead, she believes we all share a common purpose, to make a difference in the lives of others, and that is her takeaway.
“No matter what we do for a living we all have the same job: to plant the seed of love in someone’s life, to be a blessing to someone else every single day,” she said, “and that’s a message that seems to go hand-in-hand with Growing Bolder.”
Escovito believes along with that mission comes the responsibility of taking a stand in the face of injustice. It’s almost as if through her latest album, “ICONIC: Message 4 America,” she anticipated the protests and demonstrations that would follow the death of George Floyd. The songs she chose to record, such as Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues,” and The Pointer Sisters’ “Yes We Can,” strike powerful chords in support of the movement and placed her at the forefront in the fight for equality — exactly where she wants to be.
“There’s so much hatred and division in our times right now,” she said. “But if each of us, me included, calls it out and exposes it, maybe we can change it. What we have to do is bring people together through love, because if we choose love, hate goes away.”
She’s been creating change since 2001, when she founded the organization Elevate Hope, which grew into a collaborative community initiative called Elevate Oakland, a not-for-profit group providing mentoring to students involved in arts and music. She says for her, helping others is a way of life.
“It’s the way we were raised,” she explained. “Even though we didn’t have much, my parents insisted we give back, even if it’s simply giving someone a reason to smile.”
Playing drums since the age of three, she is celebrating her 60th year performing and has no plans to stop anytime soon, although she admits to making some adjustments to keep up with the physical requirements of her performances.
“For me, it’s all about prevention, whether it’s working out, eating right, avoiding the virus or getting enough sleep,” she said. “I’m not saying I feel like I did when I was 30, but I’m sure loving life in my 60s.”
For Sheila E., it’s all about entertaining audiences and making a difference in people’s lives. A two-part harmony for a life well lived!
This article originally appeared in Growing Bolder Magazine. For more great stories like this, click here to subscribe to the digital or print editions of Growing Bolder Magazine. All past issues of GB Magazine, including the one that features this article, are also available to read online exclusively on the GB Portal. Click here to find out how to become a member!