Sheila E. becomes first female solo percussionist on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Anabel Munoz Image
Thursday, July 13, 2023
Sheila E. becomes first female solo percussionist on Walk of Fame
Sheila E. became the first female solo percussionist on the Hollywood Walk of Fame when her star was unveiled Wednesday.

HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Sheila E. became the first female solo percussionist on the Hollywood Walk of Fame when her star was unveiled Wednesday, with Ringo Starr by her side.

"I am honored, humbled, and blessed to receive this prestigious award," the musician born Sheila Escovedo told City News Service. "This is a forever moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life."

Grammy and Oscar-winning R&B singer H.E.R. spoke at the ceremony in front of the Musicians Institute at 6752 Hollywood Blvd. that was emceed by Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and star recipient Jimmy Jam.

Jimmy Jam, his songwriting and producing partner Terry Lewis, and Sheila E. received Emmy nominations for outstanding music direction in 2020 as music directors of "Let's Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute To Prince."

Sheila E. performed a song with drums at the ceremony, joined by her father, Pete Escovedo, who received a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021 along with his daughter.

The star is the 2,759th since the completion of the Walk of Fame in 1961 with the initial 1,558 stars.

Sheila E. is set to perform a concert at The Bourbon Room in Hollywood titled "Sheila E and Friends," celebrating the unveiling of the star.

Born Dec. 12, 1957, in Oakland, Sheila E. gave her first public performance when she was 5 years old, appearing alongside her father in front of a crowd of 3,000, in a performance she told CNS "changed my life."

"I did not realize this was something that I wanted to do," she said. "At the end of that performance, I knew then, and only then this was my purpose."

Her early musical influences included her uncle Coke Escovedo, a percussionist with the rock band Santana and Latin rock band Azteca; another uncle, Mario Escovedo, was the front man for the rock band The Dragons, the rock bands Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, the R&B/pop group the Pointer Sisters and the funk band Sly & the Family Stone.

"I used to sit on the corner outside of the local community center with Twinkies and 7-Up listening to Sly and Larry Graham rehearse," she said. "The sounds of the Bay Area molded me."

Sheila E. made her recording debut with jazz bassist Alphonso Johnson on "Yesterday's Dream" in 1976. By her early 20s, she had already played with George Duke, Lionel Richie, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock and Diana Ross. In 1977, she and her father released the album "Solo Two." That same year, she joined The George Duke Band.

Following a Bay Area gig in the late 1970s, Sheila E. met Prince backstage, which led to their "Purple Rain" recording sessions, including her vocals on the 1984 classic "Erotic City."

Sheila E. also released her first album in 1984, "The Glamorous Life," which reached seventh on the Billboard R&B charts and was certified as a gold album by the recording industry trade group, the Recording Industry Association of America.

A single from the album, also titled "The Glamorous Life," reached first on the dance club songs chart.

Sheila E. received all four of her Grammy nominations in 1985, including for best new artist, losing to Cyndi Lauper. Her other nominations were for best pop vocal performance, female, and best rhythm & blues song, both for "The Glamorous Life" single, and best R&B instrumental performance for "Shortberry Strawcake," the second track on "The Glamorous Life" album.

Sheila E. released her second album, "Romance 1600," in 1985, which was also certified gold, a feat none of her subsequent six albums accomplished.

Sheila E. has also performed at the opening ceremony for the 1996 Summer Olympics, the Oscars and the Kennedy Center Honors. She received her first Emmy nomination in 2010 for outstanding music direction as music director of "In Performance at the White House: Fiesta Latina."

"I always wanted to be the first girl astronaut on the moon and to win a gold medal in the Olympics," Sheila E. told CNS. "I did not become an astronaut, but I've always reached for the stars and I chose music as my profession.

"Performing professionally, since the age of 15 years young, I have now received many gold and platinum albums. God made a made a way of getting gold and becoming a star instead."

City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.