STORY WRITTEN BY GARY GRAFF
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Sheila E. does not at all try to hard the fact that it’s been a tough year.
The April 21 death of Prince — her friend and creative collaborator — left the singer and percussionist “devastated.” And three months later her emotions were still raw to the point where she hadn’t even checked out any of the myriad tributes that have been performed since Prince passed away.
“We’ve played maybe five or six shows since then, maybe more than that, and it’s hard,” E. (nee Escovedo), 58, says by phone from her home in Los Angeles. “I was trying to hold everything back, just to get through them. But I said, ‘Y’know, I can’t do that, so I just started letting go and, recently, if I’m crying I’m crying and that’s it.
“Being with everyone has helped, and now we’re starting to get through the show without me crying every single song. But at the beginning I couldn’t even do sound check, because a lot of the show is songs that (Prince) and I have written together or played together. To hear him singing in my head, it brings back memories — good memories, but it’s sad, too.”
E. — who met Prince in 1978 and began working with him during the early 80s, including on her own hit “The Glamorous LIfe” and as part of his band — is paying her own tribute to Prince via music. Her new single, “Girl Meets Boy,” is about their relationship, and her upcoming album, due out this fall, will be a two-disc set pairing dance music she was working on prior to his passing with “music from the heart” that she wrote about Prince after his death.
“That is in my mission, that is in my heart to continue his legacy in a way that is just about his music,” explains E., who also led a tribute to Prince during the BET Awards in June. “That is his legacy, and so my end of it would be to continue to let people know about his music and his works that he left us and celebrate it that way.
“It’s been very, very challenging. Very emotional — physically, mentally, spiritually, all of the above. But God is good and I have a lot of great friends and family and support. And the fans have been unbelievably supportive and understanding. But, yeah, it’s been hard.”
The “Girl Meets Boy” album isn’t the only upcoming project for E. — who also played on the soundtrack for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” She’ll be leading a Glamorous Life Cruise out of Miami in February which will tributes to both Prince and Michael Jackson. She’s also in the midst of filming a documentary about her life and career, and she’s eyeballing a sequel to her 2014 autobiography “The Beat of My Own Drum: A Memoir,” though she hasn’t started working on it yet.