Photo by Donald Carraway at Velvet Ropes ENT
On September 21, 2011, The Baldwin Hills Plaza was full of fans fired up and ready to greet Sheila E. and show their love for the “Glamorous Life” girl of the ’80s, especially those who heard how fantastic she was over the summer as she made her appearance(s) with Prince during his series of concerts.
This concert was well put together by Jason Lombard and the entire crew who orchestrated the flow from beginning to end with sheer professionalism. There was heightened enthusiasm from the crowd, generated by seeing the other talented and entertaining members of the Escovedo family: Peter Michael, Juan, Dad (Pete Escovedo), and their awesome dancers. The dancers had feet that moved to the rhythmic fast-paced beats of Sheila’s drums, causing many to attempt to mimic the taps of the soles on stage.
There was a wave of amazement that went through the crowd when the Escovedo family encircled the congas with drumsticks in hand in a ring-around-the-rosy style. All this was done while they walked briskly but long enough to keep the rhythm going without missing a beat. Each took their turn performing their own individual drumbeat style–and remember they were still walking and playing in synchronistic timing.
Wow! It was truly energizing. They were dancing and jamming and giving the audience a show as if they were in their own zone–at home in their own studio jam session. The vibe was of awesome oneness.
From the interaction between the siblings, it was easy to see the care and endearment they had for one another and the feeling of protection that Sheila demonstrated as she leaned on brother Juan, as if having his shoulder to lean on were a ritual that she could always count on. This in essence assisted her in giving 100 percent to many of her shows.
Peter Michael’s joy and energy was contagious as he displayed his enjoyment being the periodic spokesperson, primarily because Sheila’s voice was being preserved so she could keep the delicate vocals intact. As I began to interview Sheila, or shall I say Peter Michael, who teasingly was answering for her in the manner in which he would for himself, she and I knew it. She took over and began to answer by whispering the responses to me to my question regarding the feeling she had when she first began to perform with Prince and she kindly and matter-of- factly informed me that it was Prince who came to the Escovedo family and expressed his desire to play with them in 1978. So he did and the rest is history.
Dad was spectacular dancing on the stage, performing his sultry salsa moves and encouraging the crowd to duplicate his motions. It was then that I spotted Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, my favorite Cooley High guy, Vanessa Bell Calloway, and others on the dance floor were having a grand time perfecting the motions in their own soulful manner.
Sheila also brings awareness to the community with the Elevate Hope Foundation (EHF). She and a business partner co-founded EHF in 2001. She supports the mission by assisting abused and abandoned youth to have access to an extraordinary therapy through music and the arts. Elevate Hope Foundation conducted the first mentoring session with arts enrichment students for our Hope’s Initiative Pilot Program (H.I.P.P) Songwriter’s Symposium at Vista Del Mar on June 14th, 2009.
Students were grouped with professional songwriters and performers for a two-hour session. Each group focused on a particular genre of music: pop, rock, R&B, and gospel. At the end of the session, each group had composed a song inspired by their writings and experiences described in their journals and shared it with the entire class for immediate support.
To get involved go to: www.elevatehope.org. Please see the website for some of the statistics of the many who need this form of creative and loving attention of reassurance. The goals of the foundation are to:
1). promote self-confidence through music, the arts and human compassion.
2). create and build the Compassion Care Center of the Arts. CCCA will provide a safe environment for victims of child abuse, non-offending parents and/or caregivers, using alternative methods of treatment through music, the arts, education, recreation, and counseling.
3). Provide life-changing tools desperately needed to accomplish their goals, enrich their lives, and inspire them to strive for greatness.
4). Produce fundraisers with the support of prominent entertainers, business executives, corporate sponsors, and private institutions.