Sheila E. shares musical memories and what inspires her to keep creating: Listen now

'I just grew up in that environment of 'always entertaining'
Sheila E.
Sheila E. Photo credit Rick Kern/Getty Images
By , Audacy

On this week's episode of his new 15-part podcast series This Little Light, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea sits down with Sheila E., known for her beat work with countless musical icons as well as her own stellar solo career, sharing some stories from her legendary past and current plans.

LISTEN NOW: This Little Light from Cadence13: Sheila E.

Photo credit This Little Light

Sheila Cecilia Escovedo, known the world over as simply Sheila E., began her rise to music stardom at the young age of three, picking up her first pair of drumsticks to perform for the first time only two years later. Ever since, she's gone on to be rightfully placed amongst the greatest drummers of all time -- not only for her work with late music legend Prince, but also for her session and touring work with countless musical icons. Before the age of 20, Sheila worked her way into the recording studios and stages of Jazz, Pop, R&B, and songwriting legends the likes of George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, Patti LaBelle, Stevie Nicks, and plenty of others.

In the beginning, she admits struggling and hearing some "awful things being said" as a woman performing a so-called "man's instrument," but easily made the transition into the Pop realm. "I just grew up in that environment of 'always entertaining,'" she says, "so it came easy because our family is huge. The gatherings, the family parties, and stuff like that... Oh my God, it was insane! My brothers and I, and my mom of course, sometimes my dad... we would be the ones to get up and start singing and dancing, and mimicking The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Temptations, whomever... Performing in front of people, we were basically used to that because we did it growing up. But the singing, and playing, and dancing I think was very important because I love to do all three... and I love to help the audience feel like they're involved."

Still going strong into her mid-sixties, Sheila E. -- The Queen of Percussion -- is currently on tour with her band E Train and has plans to release brand new music in 2023.

"There's an important part, an element of being in a band where you have to make sure that we all getting along, because what happens off stage should be on stage where we're happy together," Sheila says. "My brothers and I, my dad, we don't have to say anything. We just look [at each other] like, 'here comes a break, we're getting ready to go somewhere.' The band, I slow them down, I speed them up and whatever you feel like playing at the time to improvise... we're creating music right now live in front of you, everyone, it's a beautiful moment. It feels great and we're going into things that we would never normally go into, recreating and writing new music on the spot. It's so inspiring."

Be sure to listen to Flea's full interview with Sheila E. above.

Hosted by Flea, founding member and bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, This Little Light is a podcast about falling in love with music. Flea interviews musical guests from all genres to discuss the teachers who guided them, the influences that inspired them, and how the lessons they learned as young musicians have shaped their creativity, resilience, and careers. The podcast is produced by Cadence13 and Parallel, with proceeds benefiting the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, a Los Angeles-based non-profit that Flea co-founded in 2001.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Rick Kern/Getty Images