Sheila E. “Irrelevant”?? Girl, Bye!

Prince and Sheila E

What’s up, ladies and gents?

In case you haven’t heard, Prince is going to be honored at this year’s Billboard Music Awards, and the artist chosen to do the tribute is none other than…Madonna.  Now, when Madonna was picked, the ladies that host “The Talk” discussed the topic.  Sheryl Underwood mentioned that Sheila E. should do the tribute with Madonna.  Makes sense to me.  However, Linda Perry (Sara Gilbert’s wife) was guest hosting the show and had this to say:

“In all fairness, Madonna was asked to do this and she was friends with Prince but you also have to think about it’s really the Billboard Awards, they think about who is hot and popular,” she argued. “They’re not gonna call up Chaka Khan and re-put together The Time and Sheila E. because they’re not relevant right now.”

Wow.  Now, I realize this conversation took place this past Friday (May 20th), and today’s Sunday (May 22nd), and I’m fashionably late to the party.  However, I just received the news feed on my phone this morning, and after seeing all the comments about it over the internet, as well as Sheila E.’s reaction and Linda Perry’s defense of her opinion, I have to put my two cents in.  First of all, I like Linda Perry.  Keeping it 100%, I had to Google her, because her name sounded familiar but I couldn’t remember exactly who she was.  When I looked her up, I saw that she was Sara Gilbert’s significant other, as well as the lead singer of 4 Non Blondes.  I loved their song, “What’s Up?” when I was in sixth grade, and I still love it to this day (as a matter of fact, I was listening to the song while typing this post).  Second of all, I’ve been seeing Madonna get a lot of flack for being chosen to do this tribute.  Why is that?  Madonna is a legend, just like Prince.  A few months ago, she did a mini tribute for Mr. Bowie during one of her concerts, and in my opinion, she killed it.  I must admit I never cared for her duet with Prince (“Love Song”); their voices just didn’t mesh well, and I wasn’t even aware that they dated for a short period of time.  However, Madonna is a good pick for this tribute.  She and Prince have a lot in common:  they both blew up in the 80’s, they were both mainstays on MTV, they both had enormous sex appeal and were seen as sex symbols, and they continued to make great music and evolve as time went on.  Hell, you can argue that Madonna actually is a female version of Prince.  On the other hand, Ms. Perry saying that Madonna is better suited to do a tribute than Shelia E. because the latter is “irrelevant,” is dead wrong.

Prince and Sheila 2

As LL Cool J once said, “there’s a flip side to every coin,” and there’s definitely a flip side to this one.  Yes, Madonna would do a great Prince tribute.  But in all honesty, when Prince passed, and I thought of people that would honor him on stage or an awards show, Sheila E. and The Time were the first people to come to mind.  Sheila E. is not irrelevant at all.  She’s a legend in her own right.  With her iconic albums The Glamorous Life and Romance 1600, her role in Krush Groove (one of my favorite films growing up), and her impeccable percussion skills, this lady is a doggone force of nature.  Considering that her father is Pete Escovedo, the former drummer of Santana, she was actually born from music royalty.  Not only that, but Sheila E. and Prince were basically the equivalent of Biggie Smalls and Puffy, or even Johnny Cash and June Carter.  They met each other in 1978, and were even engaged for a while.  After they broke up, they remained friends and were close until Prince’s death.  They maintained their working relationship as well, and continued to perform together in multiple shows.  Linda’s comments about The Time and Chaka Khan were wrong as two left shoes, too.  Prince helped create The Time, and he and Morris Day basically grew up together.  As for Chaka Khan…I’m just baffled.  Who would think that she’s irrelevant?  She’s basically a model for all popular female artists today.  Just last night, I was listening to a radio show that airs a segment called, “Battle of the Old School.”  The “battle” had Chaka Khan vs. Anita Baker vs. Whitney Houston.  Chaka lost the battle by a mere three or four points (Anita won).  I thought for sure she was gonna go home with the gold.

Saying Sheila E. is not relevant was pretty disrespectful to her as well as to Prince’s memory, considering how much she meant to him.  Madonna shouldn’t be catchin’ all the hell she’s getting (y’all should see some of the comments made about poor Madge), but truth be told, it’d be nice to see her and Sheila E. honoring Prince.  And yes, The Time and Chaka Khan should be there, too.  I wouldn’t even mind seeing Carmen Electra and Apollonia, or Sheena Easton, for that matter.  They all meant something in Prince’s life; something more than who’s popular right now, and who’s making the most bank.  Linda Perry ought to watch her words…someone could just as easily say the same thing about her.  Like I said, I respect her and her work, but truth be told, “What’s Up?” came out when I was an 11 year old girl contemplating life after elementary school.  I’m a 34 year old woman now.  Considering that her last (and arguably only) big hit was 23 years ago, does that make her irrelevant by her standards?

Prince - No

Think about that.

—Written by Nadiya

So what do y’all think about this situation?  Should Madonna do Prince’s tribute, or should it go to Sheila E. and the other artists he’s known for working with?  Do you think Linda Perry is wrong or do you agree with her?  Who would you like to see do a Prince tribute?  Give me your thoughts?

Prince: 1958 – 2016

Prince 4

Anyone that’s ever known me personally for the last 20+ years, knows how much I loved Prince during my early teenage years.  I pretty much grew up on Prince, and he was always a constant in my life, but when I was 12 years old, my mother bought The Hits 1 and The Hits 2.  My mother had loved Prince ever since she was in college (they’re only a year apart in age, actually), so she listened to The Hits 1 constantly for the next few weeks whenever she came to pick me up from school (she bought The Hits 1 as a cassette, and The Hits 2 as a CD…and the car only had a cassette tape player.  We could only listen to CD’s in the house.  #90sIssues).  One day, while playing The Hits 2 on my mom’s stereo, I listened to “Raspberry Beret.”  Although I didn’t quite get the lyrics—I think I was in high school when I finally realized it was about a young man losing his virginity—I fell in love with the song, and with the man singing it.  Later that week, I sat up one evening and listened to the entire Hits 2 CD and heard classics like “Sexy MF,” “Do Me, Baby” and “If I Was Your Girlfriend” for the first time.  My life changed that night.

Prince became my world.  All I could talk about, or even listen to was him, much to the annoyance of my friends and family.  I watched Purple Rain every chance I got.  Unfortunately, I had to compete with my grandmother’s obsession with the OJ Simpson trial (only one VCR in the house back then and it was in the living room…#90sIssues), but I still managed to get my daily fix of the movie.  To this day, I can still quote most of the lines.  I even managed to get on my mother’s nerves with my infatuation.  By the time summer rolled around, she made it a rule to listen to R. Kelly’s 12 Play album in the car instead of The Hits 1 (which I’m also grateful for in hindsight, but that’s another discussion).  That was okay, though…because I started bringing my walkman with me on trips, and Prince’s music was always in rotation.  When I graduated from junior high to high school, and from walkmans to discmans, I made sure that my Prince CD’s went everywhere I went, whether it was a band competition or a trip to the closest mall.  As a matter of fact, the first album I ever purchased in life was Prince’s Come CD.  It may not have been his best work, but I loved it.

Prince opened my mind up to things that I never really thought about.  A lot of his songs had deep messages concerning politics, religion and even incest, like “Annie Christian,” “Controversy” and “Sister.”  Then there was Prince’s favorite subject for the majority of his songs:  sex.  My mother didn’t really need to have the whole birds and bees conversation with me, because Prince basically taught me just about everything about sex.  Thanks to tracks like “Jack U Off,” “Orgasm” and “Head” (learning the meaning of “Head” was a particularly memorable experience), I was damn near an expert on what goes on in the bedroom…although I wasn’t actually doing any of it.

As time went on and I became older, my infatuation for Prince lessened, as it sometimes tended to do with my early fantasy men (I wanted to marry Prince at one point in time.  I couldn’t stand Mayte for a while).  However, I never stopped loving Prince or his music, and he always kept a place in my heart.  After the clock struck 12:00 AM on New Year’s 1999, the first thing I did was run to my bedroom and play the eponymous track.  Back in 2004, I made it my business to buy the Musicology album, and between spring and summer, I listened to it every day going to work and coming back home.  When I finally upgraded from a CD player to my beloved IPod, I dedicated an entire playlist to Prince.  To date, I have about 65 of his songs on my IPod, which makes him the second most featured artist on the MP3 player.  The first, of course, is David Bowie.  When Prince played at the Essence Music Festival in 2014, I wanted to go so badly, but financial restraints kept me from making the trip.  I wish I had gone.  I wish I could’ve seen or met Prince at least once.

I still can’t believe he’s gone.  I can’t even imagine a world without him.  He was such a beautiful man, and I don’t mean just in terms of looks…although he was a pretty damn good looking man, too.  He was 57 years old and barely looked a day over 30!  But seriously, I mean that Prince was beautiful with his immense talent.  The man could sing, dance, write his own songs and played up to 16 instruments.  He was beautiful with his creativity and his work ethic.  Prince has so many unreleased albums, it’s ridiculous.  For any of my readers that live near Columbia, SC or Charlotte, NC, I highly suggest you visit the local Manifest Discs & Tapes aka the best record store chain on Earth.  The selection of Prince imports will astound you.  I used to be in hog heaven just staring at the unreleased CD’s all day.  One of the greatest things about Prince was that he was fearless.  He did what he wanted to do, the way he wanted to do it, no matter what anyone else said or thought.  My mom always loves to say that she loved Prince back when it was unpopular to do so.  Hell, circa 1994, being a Prince fan didn’t win me a ton of popularity amongst my junior high classmates due to the fact that a lot of people didn’t get him.  I believe Prince liked it that way.  He wanted to remain enigmatic to keep people guessing, and he succeeded.  Throughout his career, he didn’t really put himself out there to the media until very recently, and even then, you’d only see or hear from him on rare occasions.

So whether you loved him for his music, his movies, his dance moves, his fashion or his flamboyancy; whether you knew him as little Prince Rogers Nelson that grew up down the street, Jamie Starr, Alexander Nevermind, Camille, the Purple One, His Royal Badness, or that damn unpronounceable symbol that I never liked (sorry, y’all), honor him.  Love him or hate him, you have to admit that he was a genius; a mastermind that brought joy and beauty to people for nearly 40 years.  Thank you, Prince.  Thank you for your life and your talent.  Thank you giving us the gift of your music.  Thank you for making our lives just a little bit brighter with your presence.  Thank you for providing a girl from South Carolina so many wonderful memories.  Thank you for being you.  I love you.

Prince Rogers Nelson:  June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016

—Written by Nadiya