“She wears a long fur coat of mink, even in the summertime. Everybody knows from the coy little wink, the girl’s got a lot on her mind.” The lyrics blared in 1984 as one of the most gifted percussionists burst onto the scene. Sheila E. became a household name and suddenly girls of all ages were picking up drumsticks and fervently beating drums and timbales.
Born into a musical family to Juanita and Latin Jazz legend Pete “Pops” Escovedo, it’s amazing that Sheila has been playing professionally for almost 40 years – as her beauty and youthfulness give no signs to such a testimony. She’s played with everyone from Diana Ross to Prince and while music has always been her first love, over the years she eventually allowed herself to take time off for physical and spiritual well-being.
Along the many roads traveled, Christ has been the compass. Sheila acknowledges, “My faith in God has undoubtedly been the number one reason that I have been able to grow in all areas of my life. I attribute to God my ability to take what I’ve learned and translate it into a focused desire to have my music make a difference for others. I am clear that God has given me this gift of music. God has allowed me to touch millions of lives with my music, ministry and philanthropy. Every day I thank Him for allowing me opportunities to share these blessings with others. I am grateful.”
In an industry plagued with detrimental options, Sheila remains grounded and focused. “This business can throw many unexpected things your way and you’re often under the close scrutiny of others. My faith allows me to maintain a sense of ‘calm within the storm’ and stay centered and focused on God’s purpose in my life. I have made mistakes and I have made decisions that I came to regret. But ultimately, even the mistakes have led to some of my greatest lessons and gave me a greater sense of who I am and what my purpose is.”
Sheila and siblings Juan, Peter Michael and Zina were taught to be grateful, spread joy and make a difference for others. Her parents sacrificed and provided a home that was rich in joy and love. Although they are now the apple of her eye, Sheila admits that growing up, she experienced a season of rebellion. With a passion for young people, Sheila understands the impulse that today’s youth may have in resisting parental authority. Sheila suggests outside help from counselors, friends or a Pastor to aid families with communicating in a healthy way. She credits her pastor, Beverly “Bam” Crawford of Bible Enrichment Fellowship International, as being her voice of reason while close friend Lynn Mabry serves as a business and prayer partner.
“I’ve learned that having fun, being silly and laughing is sometimes the best therapy. When I lighten up rather than giving in to any negative thoughts or fears or worries, I’m able to make better decisions and take better care of myself.” Sheila’s lighter side includes dancing and lots of sports. Sushi and Italian are her favorite foods and she boasts of making a mean apple pie. With a love for all genres of music, when it comes to Gospel, some of her favorites are Israel Houghton, Chris Tomlin, Jonathan Butler and Kirk Franklin.
Sheila is adored by millions and leads with much class and a sweet, humble spirit – with all Glory to the One she is following. While many are familiar with her musical skills, she says the most important things to know are:
“Without faith, without giving my life to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I would be lost.”
by Tanya LaNice
“I’m grateful for my career and all the blessings it’s brought me.”
“Some might say I’m a better athlete than drummer”
“And…I’m just getting started!” (she says, with a coy little wink)