She recently spoke to The Associated Press on a number of topics, including her late mentor Prince and her show at The Apollo Theater in New York City on Monday.
A year after the death of her mentor, Prince, Sheila E. said it’s been hard to move on.
“I try to celebrate his life. … He would not want us to mourn him, he’d want us to celebrate. But it’s easier said than done, absolutely. With the support of my family and the fans and my friends, it’s been better, time does heal. But there are some days when I go, ‘This doesn’t even make sense,'” she recalled.
Sheila E. was engaged to The Purple One and they worked on a number of memorable songs, including the funky ’80s hit “The Glamorous Life.”
She said it felt strange recording the song “America” without Prince beside her.
“I kind of broke down during that session, like, ‘This is weird, strange.’ There are those moments, and some days I’m OK,” she said.
She said his death has been “an emotional roller coaster” for her and his fans.
Sheila E. will help The Apollo Theater raise money for its 2017 Apollo Spring Gala with a performance Monday at the famed venue in Harlem.
“We’re going to have a good time and it’s for a good cause, and Apollo’s been there so long, you know, it’s a place (where) so many greats have performed on that stage so I’m honored to be a part of it,” she said.
Cedric the Entertainer will host the event; CeeLo Green and We McDonald will perform. Ray Chew is the musical director.
Proceeds will support the nonprofit organization’s arts, education and community programming.
“The Apollo Theater has been home to legendary and up-and-coming artists alike, serving as an ever-changing driving force in popular music and culture not only in Harlem, but across the world,” said Jonelle Procope, the theater’s president and CEO.
Sheila E. said she doesn’t remember her first performance at the Apollo, but she walked around the venue recently to soak up the history.
“You kind of walk around backstage and think about the stories or the things that have gone on (there), and that’s what I did,” she said.
Sheila E. planned to release a dance album called “Girl Meets Boy,” but with the current political climate, she decided to switch gears.
Now she’s recording an album of songs that “has lyrical content that are relevant to the times that we’re in right now.” The project, originally titled, “Politically Correct,” but now called “ICONIC,” will be released later this year.
She and Ringo Starr both play drums on “Come Together” on the album, which also features a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Jesus Children of America” and a James Brown medley. Special guests include Freddie Stone, Bootsy Collins and Israel Houghton.
“The racism and the hatred in our country, (it’s) overwhelming to see how many people hate each other, and it’s sad. I look at it as this: One person can change the atmosphere to something good … and love is something that can change things. And it also takes one person to destroy something as well, as we know, as we’re seeing,” she said.
“So my mission … is to always bring people together, and through music I am able to do that.”
She is currently fundraising for “ICONIC” on the crowdfunding site PledgeMusic.
When Sheila E. released her autobiography, “The Beat of My Own Drum,” in 2014, she said she wanted to make the book into a film. She had already spoken to the actress she wanted to portray her on-screen.
While she still plans to make a film, at the moment she’s working on a documentary about her life and career.
“We’ve been working on a documentary that will come out in 2018,” she said. “It looks great.”