There were so many tributes to Prince following the artist's untimely death. Some were beautiful, others awkward and self-serving. But no tribute came as close to capturing the spirit of the artist or the meaning and magnitude of his legacy like Sheila E's seven-minute tour de force at the BET awards. Leaving everything she had on stage, she performed fan favorites ranging from "Erotic City" to "America," with a quick run through of her own hit "The Glamorous Life." She belted out lyrics, took her turn on the drum kit, wailed on guitar, and just when you thought she had to be worn out, she turned to Morris Day's long-time hype man Jerome Benton and announced, "Hey, Jerome — we ain't done." It was time for the synchronized dance break.
Sheila Escovedo wasn't just another one of Prince's many gifted girlfriend/proteges. She put in time as his main percussionist and was his bandleader for the New Power Generation. She may not have charted any solo hits since the '80s, but when she lofted a purple guitar over her head and sang "Baby, I'm a Star," it was hard to believe she was singing somebody else's song.
Sheila E is still helping fans say goodbye to Prince. She's coming to the Cannon Center this week with Day's group, The Time — one of the hardest working party bands in world. Day's probably best known as Prince's faintly ridiculous rival in the movie Purple Rain, but from "Oak Tree" to "Jungle Love," he's given us so much to dance about over the course of a long, hard-touring career.
It's easy to think of a package like this as pure nostalgia. But with artists like Sheila E and Morris Day, you know it's also going to be plenty of raw energy and pure purple fun.