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Paul Mann: Sheila E. Plays Heartfelt Concert at Chumash Casino Resort

Sheila E.‘s concert Sept. 15 at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez was full of tributes to her former musical mentor, Prince, who died April 21. Click to view larger
Sheila E.‘s concert Sept. 15 at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez was full of tributes to her former musical mentor, Prince, who died April 21. (L. Paul Mann / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

Sheila E. brought her remarkable mix of Latin- and jazz-tinged R&B music to an adoring crowd at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez on Sept. 15.

The high-energy performance was a roller-coaster of emotions, full of tributes to her former musical mentor, Prince, who died April 21.

The daughter of legendary percussionist Pete Escovedo, Shiela Escovido is an accomplished percussionist herself, with a reputation as one of the finest female drummers in pop music.

The 58-year-old singer and musician took the stage looking spry and fit and instantly launched into a medley of Prince classics, “When Doves Cry” and “House Quake.” Shiela E. is not only best known for her musical collaborations with the legendary Prince in the 1980s, but almost became his bride at the same time.

Wearing an all-white outfit adorned with the famous androgynous glyph that Prince took on as his identity in 1993, Shiela E. led her accomplished band of musicians through a 90-minute mercurial set of covers and original tunes. The music blended funky R&B, rock-infused jazz and classic Latin tempos into a musical firestorm. The singer would bolt back and forth across the stage, alternating from a full rock drum kit to a Latin percussion drum set.

On classic songs such as “Erotic City” and “Love Bizarre,” one could feel the roller-coaster of emotions, from the pure joy of playing for the exuberant audience to the sadness of the realization that Prince was gone. The emotions got the best of the singer following the performance of her latest song dedicated to the memory of Prince, “When Girl Meets Boy.” The sad slow song brought tears to her eyes as she whispered in a low voice, “Tomorrow is never promised.”

The singer switched to guitar and took a stroll into the audience to play her next tune directly to people who mobbed around her.

The band then ratcheted the energy back up, launching into a medley of the singer's biggest hit songs, such as “The Glamorous Life” mixed with more Prince tunes. This prompted the traditional opening of the front of the stage at the Samala Showroom so fans could rush from their seats and dance. Sheila and the band embraced the crowd, high-fiving nearly everyone and inviting some fans to dance up on the stage. It was a dance-crazed finale that seemed to please most everyone attending.

Yet another Prince protege, Morris Day, and his band, The Time, are set to play the resort on Thursday. It is sure to be yet another feel-good dance-crazed event. Click here for tickets.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. The opinions expressed are his own.

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