Sheila E.’s ICON Lives Up To Its Name and Brings Music Back to the Forefront
Sheila E., arguably the music world’s best and most accomplished female drummer and percussionist, returns to the public eye with her first full-length album in over a decade. Entitled ICON, the album sets out not only to meet expectations from fans old and new, but go far beyond them and remind listeners why Sheila E. is a name to keep on the record books.
The word ICON brings up many meanings, some more widely agreed upon than others. While an individual might acquire the moniker for many different reasons, they all share a common achievement: they have made a lasting impression on their industry. For Sheila E., being a music icon seemed a distant feat. As a female Latina in the music industry, not to mention being a drummer and percussionist provided her with as many advantages as disadvantages. She was good they said. Then, as success found her, she was great. They’d give her that. But it didn’t stop there, somewhere down the line as stardom embraced Sheila E., and despite the stigma behind female musicians like her, she knew she wasn’t going to be great. She was going to be a legend.
“I learn from others, and because I’ve been fortunate to have worked with many wonderful and talented people, I’ve taken those lessons and applied it to my music. It’s allowed me to become more diverse a musician. I’m forever a student of music, always changing, always growing, always playing.”
Now, having touched virtually all areas of the music industry, every genre and role, Sheila E. steps into her rightful place, a place she never truly left. What began under the guidance and inspiration of her father, Pete Escovedo, has blossomed into a prosperous, diverse, and industry changing career. And now, an album that is nothing short of a celebration of Sheila’s legendary gift.
“This album is really for my fans.” Sheila says. “I wanted to take the time to give back some of what so many people have given to me. Everything I’ve worked for—all the experiences, lessons, friendships, fun, my life…this is it.”
In her new album, ICON, Sheila E. clearly demonstrates not only her talents but also why she has become such a staple in all genres of the music world. With the smash single, “Mona Lisa”, an anthem with Sheila and her drums at the center, immediately setting her apart as an artist who can, simply, do things other artists can only attempt. But while there are plenty of shining moments of drums and percussion on the album itself, tracks like “Lovely Day” and “I’ll Give You That” remind fans and critics of Sheila’s abilities as both a vocalist and a storyteller. In addressing her roots and contribution to Funk/R&B, Sheila gives us three pieces to move to in “Nasty Thang,” a cleverly crafted playful groove, “Old Skool,” a call to arms for musicians with instrumental capabilities, and the Prince penned “Leader of the Band” which gives a nod to one of the greatest musical pairings in music history. But this work is more than a playlist of familiar moments, as Sheila reveals her inner motivation, hurts and healing, with three heartfelt songs in “Rockstar”, the beautifully written “Who I Am Now” and the hauntingly revealing “Girl like Me.” This album is a beam of inspiration, and a journey through the life of a musical wonder. Still, Sheila doesn’t let the album sit too long in contemplation, driving the music forward with a steady hand, immense passion, killer heels, and a force that only Icon’s provide.