Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More cowbell, Sheila! *

I’m on a music binge right now – more so than usual – and you guys are gonna have to ride it out with me.

So please check out the video clip below: Marvin Gaye, live at the 1980 Montreux Jazz Festival. (DVD is here.) Marvin jams the hell out of “Got to Give It Up.”

What really tickles me is seeing Sheila E. rock the cowbell! *

Ever wonder what’s up with Sheila E.? Last I heard, she was making music in a genre known as “Christian smooth jazz.”

But she also leads a charity called the Elevate Hope Foundation, dedicated to abused and neglected children.

The Elevate Hope Foundation will have a fundraising event tomorrow night in Hollywood – a special performance of the stage show “The Who’s Tommy.” (With Nona Hendryx as the Acid Queen!)

Did you know Sheila E. was raped at the age of 5 by a babysitter? And molested by relatives? I didn’t. But that’s what she told Tavis Smiley on his radio show last Friday.

On my Vox blog, I’m streaming her full 10-minute appearance on “The Tavis Smiley Show.” Click here to hear it. (And try not to laugh when Smiley repeatedly refers to “The Who’s Tommy” as “Who’s Tommy?”)

You can download the podcast of Smiley’s June 13 show by following this link.

Go Sheila!

* UPDATE (06/19/08): Aw hell, I think I made a mistake, people. My thanks to Craig Belcher for commenting that Marvin’s percussionist at Montreux is listed as Sandra Akaka, not Sheila Escovedo.

Studying the video again, she doesn’t look so much like Sheila E. after all. She looks Asianish.

But I have a lingering doubt. Because when I Google the name “Sandra Akaka,” the one and only thing that keeps coming up... from across the whole wide Web... is Marvin Gaye’s Montreux gig, either the album or the DVD.

You’re telling me this chick Sandra was bad enough to back up Marvin at Montreux, and she never played on another record... ever? Not one?

Plus it’s a known fact that Sheila E. had toured with Marvin Gaye. (Pete Escovedo did too.)

So I appeal to my musically astute readers. Is the woman in this video Sheila E. or not? (Reggie Hudlin has already weighed in; he don’t think it’s her.) And did “Sandra Akaka” do anything else in the music business expect play this one show?

I don’t mind admitting to a mistake... but is there a mystery here?

UPDATE (06/19/08): No mystery.

A Hawaiian percussionist named “Sandra Lee Akaka” (pictured left) does turn up on Google. That must be who the woman is.

Oh well... she did rock that cowbell, though.

22 comments:

mynameismyname said...

The incredible Shelia E!

Last time I saw Shelia she was on tour doing shows with Prince again. This woman is a monster on the percussion.

Just typing makes me think of the cover of her 1987 album (which I have on wax) ...yum...

A fine ass lady who can play the shit outta the drums. Magic, just magic.

Kellybelle said...

THAT'S Sheila E?! Get out!

bklyn6 said...

I’m on a music binge right now – more so than usual – and you guys are gonna have to ride it out with me.

So am I. And you're not helping matters any with this "binge" of yours. Get over it already; I fear my entire stimulus check's gonna be spent on your music recommendations. *smile*

It was cool seeing those old Sheila E. videos e.g."Sex Cymbal," "Coo Coo", "Sister Fate" during the recent Prince marathon on VH1 Soul. But, I also enjoyed her performance with Prince & Co. at the 36th Annual NAACP Image Awards a few years ago. The whole segment is hot. But, for me it just detonates at 13:23. That's when Sheila starts doing her thing! She gives those timbales a serious beat down. Even Rodney King would be like, Dayum!

If you do check out the video link you'll see the Obamas in the audience doin' "The Bird." j/k But they are there clapping along.

Almost forgot.... I LOVE Got to Give it Up!

Michael Fisher said...

I sent my then-girlfriend to that concert when I lived in Europe as a birthday present. I had to work so I couldn't be there. One can actually see her in the audience the beginning of the DVD. They focused on her, I think, twice. Cute sista with an Afro.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Cool stuff, Mike. I hope she expressed her gratitude to the fullest.

Michael Fisher said...

Oh she did, even though Marvin hit on her like a mofo. She says she didn't do nutin'. I believe her, 'cause she just told me the story again last month (it's real cool still being friends after we broke up what... twenty-five years ago?).

Anonymous said...

She was rocking the tube top congas and timbales back in the day in her dad's band Azteca.

Craig Belcher said...

Are we sure that's Sheila E.? My DVD of this show, released by Eagle Rock, lists all the musicians and credits the congas to Sandra Akaka and Joseph Mayo. Here's the list from emusic.

# Lonnie Liston Smith - Keyboards ·
# Gordon Banks - Guitar ·
# Frank Bates - Vocals ·
# Frank Blair - Bass ·
# Rick Gardner - Trumpet ·
# Richard Griffiths - Horn ·
# David Majal lI - Saxophone ·
# Joe Mayo - Conga ·
# Robert Stevenson - Vocals ·
# Sandra Akaka - Conga

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Oh shit, Craig. You're right! I knew Sheila E. had toured with Marvin... so I assumed...

But watching the vid again, during her conga closeup... hell, I should've known better.

(I did think that trumpet player in the hat was Kush, though.)

Kellybelle, you knew it wasn't her all along! ;^)

Reginald Hudlin said...

I didn't think it was her...whew, you all made me question myself.

But Lonnie Liston Smith on keys? Damn!

And I thought i recognized some Horny Horns too!

bklyn6 said...

Are we sure that's Sheila E.?

Thanks for clearing that up. I didn't think it looked like her, but I couldn't back it up, so I didn't say anything.

I thought, as great as she in on percussion, hitting the cow bell just doesn't even scratch the surface of her skills.

PapaSean said...

# Rick Gardner - Trumpet ·
# Richard Griffiths - Horn ·

Two of the Horny Horns with Marvin!
Sweet! Gotta get this DVD.

quirkychick said...

Sheila E. will be opening for Tom Jones in July at the Pacific Ampitheater. I just discovered that.

I wonder if she's going to do Christian music before he comes out and sings Sex Bomb?

I love this girl - she can bang.

Dougfp said...

Did UBM just have his own "Misidentified Black Person" moment?

Oh, the sweet irony!

rasx() said...

Like most Black music running through the American memory the vocal rhythms for this song seem simple. But they not. It took me years to figure out where he actually put the groove in this song. I challenge any of you to try to sing this one in the shower to your satisfaction.

James said...

I saw Sheila alive and well with Ringo Starr last year. She's still fine. Met her dad, the great Pete Escovedo, once, too. Good people. But that ain't Sheila!

Undercover Black Man said...

Did UBM just have his own "Misidentified Black Person" moment?

Doug, I was wondering who'd be the first to say it. :^)

Undercover Black Man said...

I wonder if she's going to do Christian music before he comes out and sings Sex Bomb?

Hee-hee! I would expect you'd get some hot Latin jazz, quirkychick. Which sounds like a tasty appetizer leading up to Tom Jones.

Undercover Black Man said...

Like most Black music running through the American memory the vocal rhythms for this song seem simple. But they not. It took me years to figure out where he actually put the groove in this song.

Hey Bryan! Glad you put a little focus on "Got to Give It Up." I have seen that thing wreck a dance floor. (And I don't dance.)

So I, too, have always been intrigued by the magic of this song. Because, like you say, there's no melody, there's no chorus... hardly even a hook, instrumentally or vocally. ('xceptin' for that COWBELL! Yes!!).

But I imagine that anybody who ever spun records could tell a tale or two about how "Got to Give It Up" moved a crowd. It's like, when the DJ is ready to drop a bomb on their muhfuggin' heads... reach for this or "Flashlight."

Of course, "Got to Give It Up" wasn't just a killer club track. It was a No. 1 crossover smash... and Marvin's last Top 40 hit till "Sexual Healing" five years later.

Another hit dance record with a mysterious groove, Bryan, is "One Nation Under a Groove." I don't think there's been a funk track before or since where the drums were buried so low in the mix. I really don't know what gives this track the drive that it has.

(Does have a singable hook, however.)

June 19, 2008 1:24 PM

Invisible Woman said...

Ya know, Shelia is from the O (Oaktown) and was good friends with my homies, The Tonys. When I saw that picture I said "Wow, she looks really, really, different, that doesn't even look like her". Glad to know it really wasn't her---but she is bad just like Shelia.

Craig Belcher said...

Glad I could clear that up.

bklyn6 said...

Hey Bryan! Glad you put a little focus on "Got to Give It Up." I have seen that thing wreck a dance floor.

Yeah, DJ Felix Hernandez played this joint at Roseland. We all did the Electric Slide to it!

(And I don't dance.)

Devoidoffunk?

So I, too, have always been intrigued by the magic of this song. Because, like you say, there's no melody, there's no chorus... hardly even a hook, instrumentally or vocally.

For real!? I've never noticed. Gosh, I guess I'm not a very astute listener. If I can shake my ass to it, that's good enough for me. :-)