“The Glamorous Life” proved to be a major solo breakout for Sheila E. in 1984. The classic pop track was one of her man collaborations with the legendary Prince, but Sheila E. already had a long history of playing with legends. In fact, her professional career began at only 15, when her father (a percussionist himself) asked her to fill in for him as part of Santana’s band before a crowd of thousands in a night she describes as a true “out of body experience.”
From that point forward, this Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient fearlessly forged forged new pathways in the male-dominated world of percussion. She’s played with virtually every name in every genre of American music royalty, from her popular work with Prince, to Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Kanye, Reba McEntire, and even opera tenor Plácido Domingo.
These icons and many more consider Sheila E. a peer — as well they should — and she returns that affection. Because as The Queen of Percussion herself says on “The Glamorous Life,” “Without love, it ain’t much.” She recently received a ton of love from the industry, as it was announced she’d be receiving her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as part of the 2023 class of inductees.
Sheila E. joins host Peter Csathy on the 13th episode of The Story Behind the Song to discuss how “The Glamorous Life” helped put her front-and-center for the first time. She talks about how she and Prince collaborated on the song, trying to outdo each other as they wrote, played, and sang in the studio. She also shares insights on a personal selection from her catalog: her recent salsa collab with B. Slade, “Bailar.” Throughout the interview, Sheila E. shares personal stories about working with other legends, and discusses how she persevered when pursuing her passion for percussion in a world of frequent artistic male prejudice.
Listen to the full episode above, or check out the complete video interview below. (Editor’s Note: If you have trouble seeing the player below, you can watch it via YouTube.)
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