Kkathak Dancer Akram Khan: “My Body Has Influence Of Michael Jackson And Bruce Lee”

Sources: Dhaka Tribune – By Hasan Mansoor Chatak| Edits By – All Things Michael

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Akram Khan, the internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer currently touring Bangladesh with his award-winning solo “Desh” (Homeland), thinks he has a way about himself that resembles more the styles of Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee than a typical kathak dancer.

“The way I do kathak isn’t exactly what you’d see in an Indian kathak dancer. My body has the influence of Micheal Jackson, Bruce Lee and Bangladeshi folk dance.”

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The 40-year old British dancer of Bangladeshi descent was talking at a panel discussion on “Why are the arts important to developing countries like Bangladesh?” at the British Council-Bangladesh headquarters on Tuesday.

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Akram trained in kathak at an early age. The classical dance form owes its origin to India where, he said, dance gurus advise against “releasing it from body.”

“But I am inspired by what Birju Maharaj (a leading Indian dance exponent) said, ‘Everything you are doing is kathak. Maybe its not the way you always expect it to be. You can not out kathak from your body.’”

But how does his production – which, as a dance critic put it, merges the kathak tradition of storytelling with the technical dazzle of Western stagecraft – relate to a Bangladeshi audience? Akram’s was an honest reply. “I have no idea. I guess you have to ask the audience.

For me, the reason behind pursuing arts is personal; I perform to my soul’s satisfaction. If the work goes universal then somehow it will connect. Is it relevant to the people? I don’t know, but I think it will inspire them.”

The discussion then revolved around cultural decadence in the context of Bangladesh. Akram thinks tradition and culture are not unalterable.

“I think tradition will change whether we like it or not. My child is half-Japanese and half-Bengali, and I cannot expect him to live for what I do, what I learned from my mother. And talking about the technological aspects, I think my parents’ generation was ‘we’-centric while this generation is all about ‘I’, and hence you have this i-max, i-phone, i-pad, etc. The common denominator is ‘I’.”

Akram also talked about his childhood and the influence he had on himself.

“I grew up in a community in London where the children are highly obsessed with education. I had that obsession too, but I was inspired by my mother to look back and connect to my ancestral tradition.”

“Desh” – an eighty-minute production that received favourable reviews internationally before it came to Bangladesh, where Akram earlier said it “belonged” – will be staged today at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.

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Somebody’s Watching Me: Unsual Ways To Protect Your Privacy

Source: Entrepreneur – By Kim L. Shandrow | Creative Edits – By All Things Michael

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It’s not 1984, but Big Brother’s all-seeing eye of surveillance is definitely watching you.

The NSA intercepts millions of private images every day for its massive facial-recognition project. Yes, Uncle Sam is snooping on you — your text messages, your emails, your social-media posts and, fittingly, even your Facetime (and other webcam videoconferencing) sessions. All for a myriad of sketchy reasons, not just to snatch pics containing your face and others’.

But Big Brother isn’t just in your inbox. His prying eyes are in the sky, too. New insanely high-powered, airplane-mounted surveillance cameras have already spied on countless people from above in Baltimore and Philadelphia, and who knows where else. The city of Compton in California secretly surveilled its citizens by drone.

Privacy? What’s that?

While we can’t do much to escape the ever-sharpening digital eye of surveillance (forget that nose job, even plastic surgery can’t fool some biometrics-based spy systems anymore), we can fight back with a few stealthy and seriously strange countermeasures. Yes, these are for the extreme privacy protectors (slightly paranoid?) among us.

From drone camera-thwarting burkas to anti-drone cover-up clothing and shrouding coifs of hair, here are three frocks and fashions that might help you save face and protect your privacy:

REALFACE Glamoflage T-shirt

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Sick of automatically being identified by Facebook’s eerily accurate face-deciphering software? Put on a $68 REALFACE Glamoflage T-shirt by Sandberg Institute design student Simone C. Niquille. Her collage-like shirts are covered in loud, nearly nauseating distorted face mash ups of celebs like Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and the late Michael Jackson. Not even “Oarack Bbama (Barack Obama)” was immune.

Niquille claims her custom-printed tees are graphically wacky enough to trick Facebook’s face-creeping algorithm, just enough to throw it off a bit, though — bummer — they don’t completely stop the world’s biggest and nosiest social network from recognizing your face.

URME Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic

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This spooky, eye-less photorealistic $200 face mask puts a new face on disappearing into the crowd, namely that of its inventor’s, Chicago artistLeo Selvaggio. Irked by the Windy City’s controversial “Virtual Shield” network of some 3,000 military grade, always-on facial recognition networked cameras, Selvaggio was inspired to develop a freaky way to protect the public from invasive surveillance.

You could say he sacrificed his own round, ruddy face for the greater good, right down to his beard stubble. In his own likeness, Selvaggio created the URME (pronounced “you are me”) mask, a prosthetic decoy for your face, a skin-like pigmented resin 3-D mask that lets you masquerade in public as him. Selvaggio says surveillance cameras will think you’re him, which he’s obviously cool with. That’s kind of the whole point.

There’s an equally freakier (but thankfully less expensive) $1 DIY paper cut-out version of the mask available, too.

Worth noting, however: Wearing face masks is illegal in some U.S. states, like New York.

Stealth Wear anti-drone cover-up clothing

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Turns out, face-shielding foil-like garments are effective at, yep, foiling heat-seeking spy drones. To address a “growing need to exert control over what we are slowly losing, our privacy,” Brooklyn-based artist Adam Harvey has designed a bulky line of shiny, privacy-protecting burkas, hooded ponchos, scarves and T-shirts.

Appropriately, he named the countersurveillance frocks Stealth Wear. Each pricy ($475 to $2,500) thermally reflective real silver-plated fabric garb is lined with silk inside. For paranoid people on a budget, there’s a $40 T-shirt that does all the drone-dodging work without the futuristic flair. All Stealth Wear items, available at The Privacy Gift Shop online, block thermal radiation emitted by the infrared scanners drones use, allowing wearers to go as under the radar as possible.

Not into metallic burkas? Try Harvey’s CV Dazzle techniques instead. They’re World War I-inspired camo makeup techniques that he claims can fool facial recognition technology. A streak of bright blue face paint under your eye and stripe of white down the bridge of your nose, and your facial features should be harder, or ideally even impossible, for facial detection algorithms to decipher. Harvey’s also come up with a choppy crop of face-obscuring hairstyles.

Face it, you can run, but sometimes you just can’t hide. Not all the way.

 

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Amy Winehouse’s Top Five Albums As A Child

Sources: Classical Album Sundays (Published 9/5/2014) | Edited By – All Things Michael

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 “I lost Amy twice: once to drugs and alcohol, and finally on Saturday, 23 July 2011, when her short life ended… I could see it happening. I could see her tiny body disintegrating and there was nothing I could do.”

Amy Winehouse was arguably one of the finest talents of her generation and after her tragic passing she left behind two albums that can only be described as classic. Her mother Janis has recently published her memoirs, ‘Loving Amy: A Mother’s Story, which tells her story of raising Amy and seeing her develop into one of the most gifted vocalists of her generation. Here, she gives us an insight into Amy’s musical upbringing with Amy’s Top Five Albums as a Child.

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Dinah Washington – ‘The Swingin’ Miss D’

Amy’s nan Cynthia and her father Mitchell were jazz nuts so Amy heard anything from Ella Fitzgerald to Thelonious Monk from a young age. Dinah Washington probably made the most impact. Just before she passed away, Amy also recorded with Quincy Jones who arranged The Swingin’ Miss D.

Carole King – ‘Tapestry’

Tapestry was one of my favourites and Amy’s, too. I used to play it in the car with her and at home. Amy always looked up to Carole King as one of the great American songwriters, and I’m sure she inspired Amy to learn her craft. When I saw the Carole King musical Beautiful recently, I cried. It brought back so many memories.

Michael Jackson – ‘Bad’

Amy was Michael Jackson crazy – the songs; the dancing; everything about him. And when Amy loved something, she really loved something. I took her to see ‘Moonwalker’ when she was five and she wrote in her diary afterwards ‘It was brill. I love him. I love Michael’s songs. All the kids love Michael. I do too.’

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Salt-N-Pepa – ‘Very Necessary’

Amy and her best friend Juliette had their own version of Salt-N-Pepa – Sweet-N-Sour. Amy was, of course, ‘Sour’ and they used to practice their routines over and over. Sadly, the duo never did any live dates, but American hip-hop remained an enduring influence on Amy’s music.

Alanis Morissette – ‘Jagged Little Pill’

Mitchell bought ‘Jagged Little Pill’ for Amy one Christmas, and she became obsessed by it. At her school concert at Ashmole Academy she sang the song ‘Ironic’. I knew Amy could sing, but that was something else. ‘Whoaaa, this girl’s good,’ I kept thinking. The audience were left speechless.

Check out our gallery of our CAS celebration with Island Records and Amy’s family of the 10th anniversary of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Frank.

Amy Winehouse statue reveiled today in London. Click picture to read article.

Amy Winehouse statue revealed today in London. Click picture to read article.

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‘Simpsons’ Producer Al Jean Dishes on Show’s Best Musical Moments

Sources: Billboard – By Phil Gallo | All Things Michael

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To close out The Simpsons binge-fest of all 552 episodes on FXX last month, the Hollywood Bowl is dedicating three nights to the beloved animated series. From Sept. 12-14, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles will be accompanied by stars like Conan O’Brien, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Yeardley Smith, Nancy Cartwright, and Jon Lovitz, in bringing classic songs from the series to life. To celebrate the event (hosted by Hank Azaria), Billboard spoke to veteran series producer Al Jean about fan favorites and personal highlights.

“Do the Bartman”
The Simpsons Sing the Blues album (1990)


“Michael Jackson called us up and said, ‘I want to write a No. 1 hit for The Simpsons,’ and it was No. 1 in England.”

“Lisa It’s Your Birthday”
“Stark Raving Dad” (1991)

Also written by Jackson. “A really sweet song. He wanted the [songwriting] credit of John Jay Smith and had his singing done by a sound-alike [Kipp Lennon].”

“See My Vest”
“2 Dozen and 1 Greyhounds” (1995)

“It’s a parody of 101 Dalmatians and ‘Be My Guest,’ which actually is in Beauty and the Beast, but they’re both Disney films.”

“Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off”
“A Fish Called Selma” (1996)

“The No. 1 fan favorite. Jon Lovitz will perform it at the Bowl.”

“The Monorail Song”
“Marge vs. the Monorail” (1993)

“Conan O’Brien wrote the song, performed it on the show and will perform it at the Bowl.”

A version of this story originally appeared in the Sept. 20 issue of Billboard.

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Austin Mahone Takes On Michael Jackson Hit

Sources: FanLala | All Things Michael

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We totally thought Austin Mahone was already perfect, but if you asked him, he would tell you he could always get better. In his new episode of #TourLife, we get to see Austin before his big show continuing to practice his dance moves and singing a classic tune during sound check.

Instead of performing one of his own hits, Austin takes on the pop king himself Michael Jackson, and sings “Human Nature”. We love hearing Austin sing the classic hit, but really enjoy watching him ask for pointers on his sweet moves. According to Austin, he can always give us better and strives to bring his A game each time!

Check out Austin’s sound check and dance rehearsal in the episode of#TourLife in the video below. Even though we love hearing him sing MJ’s song, we always love hearing his original hits – so join us for some “MMM Yeah” atFanlala Radio after the episode.

(MJ part stops at 1:12)

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The Simpsons’ Hums Along With Musical Celebrations

Sources: USA Today – By Bill Keveney | Edited By – All Things Michael

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Music has charms to soothe the savage Bart. And the angry Homer. And millions of Simpsons fans.

Merry melodies, including We Put the Spring in Springfield, See My Vest and We Do –The Stonecutters Song, have become a signature of Fox’s dynastic animated hit, and will be featured Thursday in a four-hour FXX marathon (8 p.m. ET/PT) and a three-night performance of The Simpsons Take the Bowl! at Los Angeles’ iconic Hollywood Bowl that begins Friday.

The series’ 26th season begins Sept. 28 (8 p.m. ET/PT) with an episode that features the death of a character. At 9, Simpsons characters appear on a crossover with Family Guy.

Music has been crucial to The Simpsons from the start of its 25-year run, creator Matt Groening says. “The three things that we (wanted) at the very beginning of the show were great writing, great voices and great music.”

The show’s taste has been eclectic, from rock (Mick Jagger and Elvis Costelloinstructing Homer at rock camp) to country (Colonel Homer managing Lurleen Lumpkin), from operatic (Krusty and Sideshow Bob performing Pagliacci) to boy band (‘N Sync visiting Bart’s band).

As for favorite genres, “We seem to be suckers for the Broadway show,” says executive producer Al Jean. “A lot of our stuff is doing Evita or Mary Poppins.”

“My favorite episodes are the musicals. I think the writing is superb, very tongue-in-cheek. It’s satire at its best,” says Nancy Cartwright (Bart), who will appear in the Bowl shows along with Groening and co-stars Yeardley Smith (Lisa) and Hank Azaria (Apu and Chief Wiggum, among others).

Former Simpsons writer Conan O’Brien will perform Monorail Song, and guest starsJon Lovitz (Llewellyn Sinclair, director of Oh, Streetcar!), Beverly D’Angelo (Lurleen) and “Weird Al” Yankovic (who played himself in two episodes) also are scheduled to appear at the Bowl shows, which will feature Simpsons clips accompanied by theHollywood Bowl Orchestra. (Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer and many other characters, recorded material for some new animation.)

The show’s music, most of it composed by Alf Clausen, has inspired the animation. “The singing of the characters gives us a way to express visually” beyond their usual movements, says director David Silverman, who will perform at the Bowl shows withVaud and the Villains. “It’s so much fun that we can stage this and stage that, cut here and cut there, do a dance routine.”

Over the years, guest appearances by musical superstars – from Tony Bennett to Elton John to three of The Beatles – have left the producers star-struck.

“We met George Harrison. We were recording it from the outside and we went in the room to shake his hand. And he goes, ‘You just want to get in the room and shake my hand,’ ” Jean says.

At times, they literally couldn’t believe who was interested in appearing on the show.

“I was sitting in the office late at night and I got a call from a very high-pitched voice, ‘Michael Jackson,’ and I thought, ‘Prank phone call.’ ‘No, it really is,’ ” Groening remembers Jackson responding. “And I just thought, ‘He must get that from everybody.’ ” (Jackson spoke in Season 3’s Stark Raving Dad and wrote Happy Birthday, Lisa, though Kipp Lennon sang the tune.)

Groening’s favorites include Apu’s Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?, which Azaria will sing at the Bowl, and musical take-offs of The Planet of the Apes and A Streetcar Named Desire, “in part because the Tennessee Williams estate wouldn’t give us the rights to the play,” he says.

The appearance at the Bowl, which often presents classical music performances, is another milestone for the groundbreaking, Emmy-winning comedy, which drew strong ratings for an FXX marathon, which ended on Labor Day, that included all 552 episodes.

“We just wonder how many people might have gotten season tickets and are going to be there going, ‘What the heck is this? We wanted The 1812 Overture,’ ” Groening says.

Read more at USA Today

Hank Azaria, the voice of Moe and Chief Wiggum, will host the world premiere event The Simpsons Take the Bowl that plays Sept. 12, 13 and 14 and features appearances by Jon Lovitz, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Vaud and the Villains, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, the voices of Bart (Nancy Cartwright) and Lisa (Yeardley Smith) and Kipp Lennon, the singing voice of Michael Jackson. Thomas Wilkins will conduct the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. (Source: Billboard)

Administrator’s Note: There is a track out there of Michael’s recorded version of Lisa It’s Your Birthday, but the one with Kipp was released. The video I’ve attached in the article seems to be mixed with both versions. Michael starts off the song and Kipp gets added in the middle around 1:23.  You can actually hear the change. Michael comes back in at 1:50.

 

Rising Singer Ayden George Talks Music, Michael Jackson And More

Sources: Singersroom – Dominique Carson | All Things Michael

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Watch out world, up and coming R&B singer, songwriter, actor, and model Ayden George is ready to make his debut in the music business. The Dominican-American is definitely on the rise and on the grind.  A glimpse of stardom was presented at his fingertips after he formed the group 718 with his friends. The group had a deal with Capitol Records, but due to careless work habits from a former employee, their dreams of being superstars were put on hold.

Once the group disbanded, George was eager to master his craft even more, and do things HIS way as an artist. He has collaborated with top-rated artists including Tank, Harvey Mason Jr, Gourdan Banks, Stacy Barthe, and Elijah Blake. George’s songwriting skill was also put to the test when he co-wrote songs for Vivian Green, K. Michelle, Kelly Rowland, and Meek Mill. He was also featured on the final episodes of One Life to Live, and on an ad for the luxury sneaker brand “LVLXiii.”

So as you can see, we will be expecting great things from George very soon.  He is expected to release his EP in late 2014. Singersroom.com conversed with the rising star about his humble beginnings, singing, songwriting, and more. Read all about it!

Falling in Love with Music: I fell in love from just listening to it. My parents and my family are just vibrant people. I’m of Dominican descent; my family really love music and they play music, dance all day, didn’t matter if it was a Monday or Tuesday or they had to go to work the next day, they were just vibrant people. My father listened to a lot of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Then, the other end of the spectrum was Spanish music: Salsa, Merengue, and all kinds of music. I fell in love with it, just trying to sing and dance to it. I love to dance, I was a busybody.

Musical Influences:  Growing up, I loved a lot of Michael Jackson. Each artist inspires me differently, each of my influences… Michael Jackson is somebody I look to in terms of ideas, because he was an innovator. I watched him to see what he will do next. He always kept people on their feet. He was just bigger than life. Stevie Wonder has to be one of the greatest vocalists of all time. And currently, I think that the only person that carries that, the greatness, the grandness of being an artist is Beyoncé. And then we have the vocal inspirations like Tank. I’ve worked with Tank and he inspired me and while I worked with me, he was more impressive. Him, Brandy, Kim Burrell, it’s a lot of people, but those are my main three, Michael, Stevie, and B.

Discovering Vocal Abilities: When I was singing in the house, and she is going to kill me for this, but I have an aunt that I grew up with and I call her my sister. We were very close in age; she was my grandparents’ youngest, unfortunately, my grandfather died, and my father took her in and we grew up like brothers and sisters. And she said to me, ‘Shut up, you can’t sing,’ and we were young. She was a kid, but that stuck with me because I’m not somebody that you can say you cannot do something to; I’m going to take the challenge and it’s going to make me better. It’s going to make me push harder, so for somebody to tell me that I couldn’t do something, it made me say, ‘I’m going to prove it to myself that I can do this and be great at it.’ So I think that’s what really struck that.

Singing Your Very First Song From An Artist: It was “I’ll Be There,” by Michael Jackson. And I was a very big fan of the Mariah Carey version of it.

Participating in Musical Projects: What happened was that I really wanted to do music, I was passionate about it and because of that I ended up going to a performance arts junior high school. My junior high school in Brooklyn was really weird because they didn’t have a choir. They had band and all of these other talent things, so I learned how to play an instrument. I learned how to play music, which helped me improve my ear and then from there, I was able to audition without really developing my voice. But, because I was able to develop my ear, I was able to audition for performing arts high schools and I got into Talent Unlimited High School. I got all sorts of training from there.

Fondest Memories Attending a High School for the Arts: Everything about that school was great. It was like a movie, you see all of these performing arts movies like Glee and you would think that’s a corny thing to see, but some of these schools provided that for you. All of the great things in art was exposed me. I made a lot of good friends, who I still speak to this day. They helped mold me. We sing on the train together because one of my friends would be like ‘yo, I want a pair of Jordans,’ and we would make $150 in an hour on the train. And we would do it today, tomorrow, or for the whole week. And we would have a pair of Jordans within the next week. So those are the memories I treasure forever. [...]

Challenges You’ve Experienced as an Aspiring Artist: I’ve slept on buses, on floors, airports, friends’ house, ate Cup of Noodles for weeks, no money, lost jobs, lost my scholarship in school, everything about this business is about giving. You have to give everything you have in order to receive the smallest payback. But I have faith and I believe that God is doing something so major in my life through my gift and through my music that it will all make sense and be worth it. But, you literally have to sacrifice everything, including your relationships and friends. Not to say that you can’t have relationships and friendships, but they have to understand what you’re doing. They will respect it and not necessarily feel abandoned because it can be time consuming.  Professionally, you’re a nobody right now, so you have to sleep on the studio floor because you can’t afford a room even though you’re getting free studio time. I don’t know how many relationships you have to sacrifice before you are really established because a lot of people just don’t get it. It’s doable, but it’s difficult.

Keeping the Faith in the Industry That is Known to be The Devil’s Playground: It’s all about my faith in God. It is so powerful for me in my life because it’s about communication and prayer. I think my relationship with God keeps me whole. It’s like He’s saying, “I’m going to be alright; you’re going to make it.”  You’re going to get through this and you’ll be fine, and that’s what keeps everything together for me. God keeps it all together and my family has helped me. If I didn’t have my family’s support, honestly, I would be on the street right now with nothing because my passion for music is so strong that I can’t work a regular job. This is what I want to do, but my parents are like ‘yo, you are a grown adult, but we believe in you so much that we are going to provide in every way possible until you make your dream come true.’ They’re like ‘Your dream is our dream.’

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What You May Not Know About Sheila E

Sources: NPR | All Things Considered | All Things Michael

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Most people know Sheila E. as a pop star, from the hit records she made in the 1980s with the telltale influence of Prince. But did you know she made her debut album as a teenager, or that she played percussion on Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”?

That and other details of a rich musical life come to light in a new memoir called The Beat of My Own Drum, and Sheila E. joined NPR’s Arun Rath to talk about it. Hear their conversation at the audio link, and read on for Rath’s thoughts on an artist who was making noise before Prince even got his start.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I’m Arun Rath.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “A LOVE BIZARRE”)

SHEILA ESCOVEDO: If that’s what we are, we all want a love bizarre.

RATH: This is how most people know Shelia E – from the hit records she recorded back in the ’80s, with a telltale influence of Prince. But if that’s all you know about Shelia E., you’re missing half the story. Do you know about her debut jazz album when she was a teenager, even before Prince got his start? How about the fact she played percussion for Marvin Gay and Santana and Michael Jackson and that she still leading a Latin jazz band? Shelia E. packed as much history as she could into a new memoir, it’s called, “The Beat of My Own Drum.” The first chapter starts with the time her conga playing father, Pete Escovedo, brought her on stage for the first time at a little club in Oakland. She was five years old.

ESCOVEDO: I just member walking up the stairs of the club and I could hear the music getting closer and closer as we got closer to the front door and my dad introduced me and the people kind of just parted, you know, there was like a line right up to the stage and my dad picked me up and sat me – or actually stood me on a stool because the congas were a little bit too high. I don’t remember playing but my dad said I played good.

RATH: Now I want to play you a little piece of music for you. Take a listen to this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “BITTERSWEET”)

RATH: 1977.

ESCOVEDO: Wooo, that’s a long time ago.

RATH: Can you tell our listeners what we’re listening to?

ESCOVEDO: I know it’s Billy playing and my dad and I but I don’t know if it’s Billy’s record or the “Solo Two” record.

RATH: This is the “Solo Two” record. This is you playing with your dad and you’re talking about talking to Billy Cobham.

ESCOVEDO: Wow. Yeah.

RATH: The Great Jazz drummer.

ESCOVEDO: Yeah.

RATH: Who kind of discovered you and your dad playing.

ESCOVEDO: Yeah he came to San Francisco and ended up in a club that we were playing in and he was like, oh wow, I was just coming to hang out, met us and he was excited about, you know, hey maybe we could do a record together – a father and daughter. And I could come back and we could produce and blah blah blah. And we was like like, yeah OK and we thought he’s not going to come back. And a few months later he came back and we did the record and we couldn’t believe it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “BITTERSWEET”)

RATH: And this is a part of your work that I feel like a lot of people – and maybe even a lot of your fans aren’t aware of that but you were – Shelia Escovedo, you were a star before Prince was a star.

ESCOVEDO: Yeah.

RATH: You know, before you were Sheila E. you were out there, you has your own sound.

ESCOVEDO: Yeah, that’s what’s been so great and celebrating now 40 years in the business was that being a musician at an early age at 15 and being able to play with such great artists, you know, at an early age from Billy Cobham to George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis. I mean, it’s been an honor to be able to not only listen and play with them but just to know them and learn from them.

RATH: And while we’re dropping names I got to mention one other fun discovering in this book and that’s Michael Jackson from “Off The Wall.” You play on “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”

ESCOVEDO: Yeah. That bottle sound, that very distinct bottle sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “DON’T STOP ‘TIL YOU GET ENOUGH”)

ESCOVEDO: I remember Quincy saying, you know…

RATH: Quincy Jones.

ESCOVEDO: Yeah, Quincy Jones there’s a sound that Michael wants on the record can you kind of emulate it so I got two bottles – and put in it and I just pitch them to the key of the song and then played that as percussion. So, when you hear, dun, dun, dun, dun dun dun dund, that kind of thing, those are the bottles.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “DON’T STOP ‘TIL YOU GET ENOUGH”)

MICHAEL JACKSON: Keep on with, the force don’t stop. Don’t stop ’til you get enough. Keep on with, the force don’t stop. Don’t stop ’til you get enough.

RATH: I’m speaking with percussionist and band leader Shelia E. about her new memoir. It’s called, “The Beat Of My Own Drum.” So, like we were saying you were established, you were Sheila Escovedo. Now one thing that was deftly new with Shelia E. as opposed to what you’d done before – you never really sang before. And you write that it was Prince that convinced you to sing. How did he do that?

ESCOVEDO: Well, somewhat. It was the one song he just called me and he tricked me because he said, I have a session, come to the studio. I met him but I looked in the studio and the live room and there were no drums or Timbales -percussion. And I said what am I doing, he says you’re going to sing and I’m like no, no, no. Because I can do that singing and playing. I can sing and play but when you take away my Timbales I though well what do I do with my hands? I need to hit something, you know. That took a second and then I went, OK, I’m a do it. So he said OK here’s a song, I want you to sing on – which was “Erotic City.”

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “EROTIC CITY”)

ESCOVEDO: (Singing) If we cannot make babies, Maybe we can make some time, Erotic City come alive.

RATH: And he also helped convince you to come a bandleader, do your own album.

ESCOVEDO: Well, yes and no. He didn’t convince me, I’ve always been a bandleader. I started a couple of bands that I had early on in my years.

RATH: And from your own account you’re a pretty strict bandleader.

ESCOVEDO: Very much so yeah. He learned a lot from me on that and I’ll tell you that. He came to one of my rehearsals and realized how much work we had put into rehearsing and he went back and called an emergency rehearsal with his band to say, I’m not getting my butt kicked by Shelia E. on this tour. So, he went back and revamped his whole show. I mean everyone talks about the boot camp that I started and it was more of rehearsing 12 hour days, which we did every day. And I would have maybe a day off. It was strict because this is my first time being out there as a solo artist and I was – it’s like we’ve got to do this right. So, it was brutal.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE GLAMOROUS LIFE”)

ESCOVEDO: (Singing) She wants to leave. The glamourous life. She don’t need a man’s touch. She wants to leave. The glamourous life. Without love it ain’t much.

RATH: Now something I had no idea about, maybe nobody did, you write about in this book is that there was a very serious physical toll that your style of drum playing took on your body.

ESCOVEDO: There’s a lot of injuries that happened. And I – and because I talk about to the kids it’s very important to practice, you know, every single day, blah, blah, blah, I never practiced. There’s no warm-up, you warm up my hands, warm up my feet, my voice, I never did any of that. So, those injuries came from playing, being a woman I wanted to make sure I stayed looking like a woman and definitely playing in high heels was not a smart thing to do.

RATH: Energetic style you have of playing. I imagine that’s got to be tough.

ESCOVEDO: Yeah so, my back went out, I was partially paralyzed for a couple of weeks. After a while when you’re reaching to hit a cymbal and you’re playing awkward it the way that you sit, something’s going to give and it did.

RATH: There must be a lot of women now – young women, who are playing drums and percussion that saw you when they were little girls. Have you heard from them?

ESCOVEDO: Yes.

RATH: It must be nice.

ESCOVEDO: Very nice. Very nice. They come to me and say that, you know if it wasn’t for you I would not be playing right now and there are older women that are older than me that come up to me and say I always wanted to play but, you know, in school they didn’t have it or it wasn’t accepted or my parents didn’t, you know, didn’t want me to do it or what and I said it is never too late to play. I grabbed her hand, she was 80 something years old, I pulled her on stage and I had her sit down and play congas with the band. We played live and she had never experienced anything like that before, she’ll never forget it. It makes you happy, you know, it’s like a plant being watered every day and for me it’s like if I don’t get my food, my water, my nourishment musically some kind way creatively, I feel like I’m going to die.

RATH: That’s Sheila E. Her new memoir is called, “The Beat Of My Own Drum.” Shelia E., love your playing, love speaking with you. Thank you so much.

ESCOVEDO: You’re welcome. Thank you very much.

Audio Linkhttp://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?

Read book excerpt here

If I were to recommend just one album to get to know Sheila E., it wouldn’t be The Glamorous Life, Romance 1600 or anything you’ve probably heard of. In fact, it’s not even a Sheila E. album.

In 1977, at the age of 19 and working under her given name, Sheila Escovedo got double billing along with her father, percussionist Pete Escovedo, on an album called Solo Two.

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